Only time for a(nother) brief note, as I am on a “working” lunch, in between yet another tedious series of PowerPoint presentations showing Just How Awful the financial straits are through which our Navy is navigating. I do believe it is compulsory for staff officers to either view or present at these end-of-the-world kabuki theaters every year or so. I am next-best-thing to certain that this requirement reaches back to the birth of the republic. Just as every generation discovers sex (and ultimately, pregnancy), so does every generation discover, much to their amazement, that there is Not Enough Money to Go Around.
By the way, nothing in that last paragraph should be construed to reflect upon any other discussions we have had in recent days.
Anyway – Travel yesterday was a drudge, as it nearly always is. Unpleasant weather at someplace known as “Manchester” (I am nearly certain that this was a city in the US, and thus entirely unrelated to the home of the eponymously named football club en Angleterre – there’s some French for you, JHD, with your low-level Mirage videos) delayed my flight out of Baltimore (which I can attest with certainty is in the US, despite those ridiculous accents) until an unseemly hour.
It was thus with a somewhat greater than normal degree of barely suppressed churlishness that I sat next to a gent who turned out to be a naval officer as well (traveling to Norfolk, of all places – imagine that!) who in turn had on his right a member of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball organization – despite the furren sounding name, I am reliably informed that Harlem is in the US as well, although you must take that without my personal warrant as I have never visited to confirm this with my own eyes. From which you are to draw no other conclusions, but that…
You: Yes, yes – but what about the churlishness.
You: Do go on.
Me: Right. So.
Anyway: I was churlish not only because of my hideously delayed arrival in Norfolk by no means freed me from the obligation of showing up at today’s meeting at an exceptionally early hour, on little sleep, but required nonetheless to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as I watched with wondrous enthusiasm one after another in a series of long-faced action officers tell me that the World Was Coming to an End (and That Right Soon). Not only that, but the afore-mentioned (junior) naval officer proceeded to tell the long-suffering professional basketball player of the importance of Making Wise Investments.
You: Are you concerned that perhaps you’re over-using the Capital Letter-thing for Emphasis?
Me: Concerned, but not overly.
Anyway – the junior officer would go on, and would not shut up and I searched for another empty seat anywhere on the plane. Without, I might add, finding one. No doubt in consequence to the fact that the plane was hideously late, which I don’t know that I’ve mentioned to you before (ed. – not above a dozen times) and which somehow tends over time to increase the passenger load factor, due to a process which is not entirely clear to me and…
Anyway – Eventually Lieutenant Commander Runs-at-the-mouth turned to me, and after a very brief dialogue inferred that I was also a naval officer of somewhat greater seniority than he himself. He must have inferred that, because I distinctly recollect having told him so. At which point he told me that he was seriously pondering taking early retirement at 15 years, if Congress deemed to offer it. I should have encouraged him in retrospect, I suppose, but instead I offered to him that the government offered early retirements as a way to save money from the general coffers, and that it necessarily followed, given a merely average lifespan, that such savings would come out of his pocket. I also added that unless he could assure himself of socking away perhaps $500k over the next 5 years as the equivalent stake necessary to create an annuity sufficient, at moderate rates of return, to supplant the income provided by a twenty-year retirement, not to mention the fact that there was War On, he should maybe reconsider his early retirement plans.
To which he responded that he had no doubt he would be worth the difference in pay, given five years to run wild about the local economy. At which point I congratulated him on his perspicacity and grumpily told him that in the intervening period, while he might not be able to sock away $100k a year while in the naval service, at least he would have the love of his country to keep him warm at night.
At which he chuckled, before looking me in the eye and discovering that I wasn’t kidding.
As I said, churlishness tending towards dyspepsia.