Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead.
So yesterday I made what was supposed to be, according to my Google Maps, a 3 hour and 15 minute trip to Great Lakes Naval Station to get my new Navy uniforms. Now, I don’t drive the speed limit (but I don’t drive crazy-fast) so generally my trips don’t take quite as long as what Google says.
It definitely didn’t take 3 hours and 15 minutes. No, it took more than four hours. Stupid Chicago traffic on a non-work day is nearly as bad as Chicago traffic during a work day.
I grew up in a small town. As in only 2,000 people total small. And that was the largest town in the COUNTY. In fact, we had to drive 45 minutes on the highway just to make it to a Wal-Mart.
So needless to say (but I’m going to anyway): I HATE traffic.
Second only to my dislike of traffic is my dislike of shopping. Yes, I know I’m a woman and that is probably considered treason to the female gender to say, but I. Hate. Shopping.
So when I arrived at Great Lakes, I was imagining a quick in and out. Heck, I had a list set so I figured I’d just go down the list, try on a few things and be done with it. That, of course, didn’t happen.
When I first arrived at the gate, the guard noticed that I didn’t have DOD stickers (why should I? I’m never near a base and won’t be until I move to Washington) and made me go to the visitor’s center to get one. I was told it probably wouldn’t even be open, so I didn’t bother to check. That was my mistake.
So I go to the center and explain myself: I’m an active duty spouse and a Navy Reserve officer… I have my COMDOCs and orders to prove that I’m an officer and I have my Spouse ID, birth certificate and marriage license to prove that while the name on my COMDOCs and orders is my maiden name, I am who I am even though my name is now my married name.
Did you understand all that? If you did, you are much better off than the ladies in the Visitor’s Center. Of course, they were talking amongst themselves and showing off pictures of children (or grandchildren) to each other and not really paying attention to what I was saying.
They handed me the stickers and a red sticker denoting Great Lakes. I knew from Huzzy that an Officer is supposed to get a certain color sticker so he/she can park in “Officer Parking” or some nonsense like that. So I asked if there was something specific for officers. She said no, all the colors are the same.
I walked out and got ready to put the stickers on but decided that I didn’t want to put the wrong ones on, so I called Huzzy. He told me that the red sticker should be a blue one for me and to go back in.
So I did. And I retold my story (to the same person) and she said, “So wait, you are in the Navy too?” After responding yes, she said, “So you are an Officer in the Reserves and your husband is active duty enlisted?” Finally, she had it! She then told me that she couldn’t give me the blue sticker because I didn’t have my ID yet (even though I’d explained that I needed my uniforms… that I was picking up that day… to get my ID). She told me the gate guard might have a problem with me having an enlisted spouse ID rather than an officer ID with the blue sticker (okay, I still have lots of proof as to all that, but whatever).
When she told me I had to come back and get my blue sticker as soon as I got my ID, I told her I wasn’t driving another 7-9 hour round trip just to get a silly blue sticker on my car that I probably wouldn’t need again until after I moved to Washington, where I could get my sticker very easily from one of the MANY bases within 30 minutes of me. I was ready just to say forget it but she ended up giving me the blue sticker with explicit instructions that I was not to put the blue sticker on until I got my officer ID. That’s fine, because I really didn’t care about the sticker, but I didn’t want to get in trouble for having the wrong one on my car in a week.
After all that, I arrived at the NEX to get my uniform. As I was walking in, some young Seamen (I’m assuming that’s what they were since we were at Great Lakes and they were in their Navy sweatshirt and sweatpants on with BCG’s so they probably were still in boot camp and probably weren’t even allowed to wear civvies yet) called out, “Heeey baby!”
Now normally, in the civilian world, I ignore this and keep walking. And that’s what I did this time as that’s what I’m used to doing. But I thought about it as I went into the NEX that honestly, that’s sexual harassment against another military member. I know they had no idea that I am a Reserve Officer, but come on… you are on a base. It’s pretty assured that anyone you meet is either in the military, is a spouse or is a child of someone. That is NOT a place to call out “Hey Baby” especially when you are just in training.
Even though I had just arrived after sitting in ugly Chicago traffic, I was still in a good mood. Had this happened AFTER my shopping trip at the NEX, I probably would have scared the beejeesus out of the punks by walking up to them and saying, “I don’t respond to “hey, baby”… but you can call me ma’am as I am an officer. Now I need your name, rank and command.” I never would have done anything with the info (unless they had said something worse) but they would have deserved it to just get shaken up a bit.
And before anyone says anything, no, it’s not the Officer vs Enlisted thing… it’s a “I hate cocky teenagers that think they are the $hit” thing.
So list in hand, I went into the NEX and started looking for everything I needed. Oh. My. Word. I soon realized my list wasn’t inclusive of everything I needed.
What devices did I need for which collars? What about the jackets? Do I need devices on a khaki Garrison cover? What shirt goes under the whites? Why can’t I find white pumps to go with the white skirt? And so on.
Three and a half hours later and $950 poorer, I left the NEX. I wasn’t able to get everything I needed (never did find the white pumps and they didn’t have a combo cover that fit me… and I shouldn’t have listened to the sales people because it turns out I DO need devices for my garrison cap). And I didn’t have the patience to shop for some of the fun Navy-related stuff like T-shirts and whatnot. I’ll get those another time. Remember what I said? I’m not someone who enjoys shopping. For someone like me, this trip was just murderous. But the drive back was okay, so that made at least end okay.
And note to self: do not wear a black bra and underwear when trying on white uniforms.