Saturday, 22 October 2011

Care and feeding of your Yeoman

Yeoman - from Wikipedia " In the Royal Navy, the Canadian Navy, the Royal Australian Navy and other maritime forces based on British naval tradition, a Yeoman of Signals is a signalling and tactical communications petty officer."
Back in 1997 when I was about HMCS Cowichan, a 1960s vintage Bay Class minesweeper, I had the title of Yeoman. I loved that job, I got to guide young  officers on thier journey toward becoming fully fledged members of the officer corp.

One particular class of very junior officers I was training had come to me on masse and said "Yeoman, please help us understand all of this tactical signal stuff we have to do. The guy that taught us at school didn't teach us anything, he just read the book and said - END OF LESSON, DISMISSED". They all looked so sad and with huge puppy eyes, I had to take pity on them.

I made the first version of my famous book "Care and feeding of your Yeoman". It was a best seller within the junior officer classes that came aboard my ship, so popular that the junior officers from the other ships in the training squadron came to me and begged for their own copies. Damn, I should have charged more for each copy.

The first page of the booklet said something to the effect of "Hi, I am your Yeoman, I am here to help you become real officers. Within these pages is all you will need to know about fleet manoeuvring and tactical signaling."
The second page of the book read as follows
"Breath, if you fail to do this you will pass out, fall down on my deck and bleed upon it. If you bleed upon my deck I will be sorely pissed at you and will make what is left of your life aboard this ship HELL"
They all thought I was joking.

Then one day, up on the bridge, the unthinkable happened. One of the junior officers failed in her breathing. She stood up straight and passed out. She keeled over and face planted herself on my deck. Man, the Captain just about had a heart attack. Well, we hustled her down below and found out what had happened, she had not eaten breakfast. The Captain had some strong words for her about that.
The upside of all of this was that she did not bleed on my deck, so I forgave her <g> but I did get her copy of my best seller and made her read the second page again. 
She promised to never again do the unthinkable on my deck and carried on with her course. As it turned out, she became very good at driving the ship.

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