Quickly threw this harangue together, without taking anytime to refine it.
Back in the day, I got an honorable discharge "for the good of the service." Never made it beyond seaman E-3 in the USCG. As a deckhand on a 210'
medium-endurance cutter, I was always eager to go out on the SAR missions. But having a death wish since childhood and being a suicide jockey, there
was never any fear of not coming back. In port I had absolutely no patience for the military's tradition of "negative reinforcement." Got more than my
share of that treatment as kid, being raised by an extremely abusive sociopathic father. Needless to say I loved to go AWOL, but never once missed
Finally got out and qualified for the GI Bill, later being accepted to the USCD, where I pursued a bio-medical engineering education. As a homeless
student, I lived in a VW panel van with a couple of surfboards and a 12-gauge pump shotgun. Receiving a monthly check that more than covered all my
expense at that time, life was good. The university had everything a homeless student could dream of. There were state subsidized $2 all you could eat
breakfasts, hotel showers, weight rooms, Olympic pools, saunas, jacuzzis, and hot chicks everywhere. There were comfortable fluorescent lit libraries,
lecture halls with blackboards along with computer terminal facilities that were open 24/7. It was like being a member of some country club. Oh yeah,
and right across the street was Blacks, one of the meanest beach breaks in California.
I worked part time at the VAMC, as a phlebotomist (i.e. blood drawer). There were lots of WW-ll, Korean, and Vietnam vets at that time. I'd show up
for work at 0400, always trying to beat the other phlebotomist so that I could chose which floor I'd being drawing from. Patients in the psychiatric
ward typically had good veins, which were easy to hit. This definitely wasn't the case on many of the other wards, where things could be tricky at
After graduating and getting my degree I got hired again at the VAMC, but this time as a biomedical engineer, working for the chief of orthopedic
surgery. I was put in charge of managing his research laboratory. The fiscal waste that I witnessed over the next 2 years was shocking.
A day in the life could actually play out like this. I'd show up for work super early, well before 0600, avoiding elevator rides which could be packed
with patients, including HIV cases. Instead opting for a hike up the stairwell to the top floor where the research labs were located. I'd cross the
"central core" and make a brief stop to rummage through a pile of surplus equipment and medical supplies left out by the research labs -- there'd be
anything from oscilloscopes to cases of sterile syringes -- you could scavenge every single morning, and take what you wanted back to your lab, no
Later in the day you might decide to ask the admin office for a key to the "supply room" and without any supervision or accountability load up on
stationary supplies, pens, bottle of whiteout, notebooks, reams of paper, printer cartridges, tape dispenser, staplers, etc., etc., etc.
Toward the end of each fiscal quarter a principal investigator would make sure that you exhausted all the money in his budget, by having me call in
suppliers and ordering ten of everything, even though we already had ten of everything. This had something to do with not being able to get matching
funds the next quarter, if we didn't spend all our money.
A "working lunch" according the to principal investigators, might involve accompanying MDs and PhDs to the best restaurant in town where you could
witness them ordering steak and lobster along with cappuccinos and apple pie ala mode. Of course they'd pay for it all with government issued credit
cards, you know the ones that the IRS force American taxpayers to subsidize.
Back that afternoon we might finish up the day fighting "space wars." The principal investigators (MDs and PhDs) were constantly competing with one
another for lab space. It wasn't uncommon to scrap for vacant space, spending lots of time, lots of money, and effort getting a lab outfitted just to
find out another principal investigator has out maneuvered you politically. Your evicted and asked to vacate, with the only available place to store
your supplies and equipment being the central core (i.e. scavenger heaven).
Just like military service, I ended up rebelling against this government system too -- corruption, greed, misguided spirits, and wanton waste. Didn't
want to be an accomplice by actively participating in the commission of these crimes. There was no way for me to right it, so I walked away and went
back to the blue collar ranks, working as a carpenter and building houses, surfing my friggin' brains out.
edit on 5-10-2012 by seasoul because: (no reason given)