Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anchors Await

Sometimes it seems as though my life can be characterized by the lyrics to Fugazi’s “The Waiting Room:”

I am a patient boy
I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait
My time is like water down a drain
Everybody's moving,
Everybody's moving,
Everybody's moving, moving, moving, moving
Please don't leave me to remain
In the waiting room

In a cultural context and personal mindset attuned to instant gratification, waiting can be torturous.  I had to wait four years to get a college degree; two years to get my teaching certificate; three years to learn to deal with emotional baggage; two years to date a girl; thirty-one years for my life to begin, and so on and so forth.

The job I mentioned in Monday’s post is part of a process as well (and I’ve discovered it’s actually been closer to three months rather than five months (my b)).

It was late April/early May when I approached a recruiter about joining the Navy.  I thought it’d be as easy as walking into the office, saying I want to enlist and then in few weeks’ time I’d be shipping off to basic.  Well, that was early May, now we’re in late August.

First thing I did after the initial paperwork was take the ASVAB – that’s a test you take to get a general idea of what ratings (jobs) you’d be suited and eligible for in the Navy.  My score lets me choose basically whatever I want so long as there isn’t an age limit (such as a nuclear tech for which the age cutoff is 25, or the SEALS in which I would surely die just in their warm-ups).  So that was encouraging; but I wouldn’t be meeting with the job classifier for some time.  There were some items in my medical history that needed addressing first – and herein is where I really have seen God work.

Since I was in counseling for 3 years, the Navy wanted to be sure I was mentally and emotionally “there” and, sure, I can say that, but any reasonable employer would want confirmation from the counselor in question.  So I needed to get a letter from my counselor explaining all that, and she complied – easy enough.  But then…

Ten years ago I had a kidney stone.  It was the worst physical pain I have ever (and hope to have ever) endured, but I passed it and haven’t had any problems since (drink lots of water everyday, kids!).  However, of course, Recruiting Command wanted documentation confirming that.

So, I contacted the hospital of the emergency room where I was treated and requested the records.  It took about a week, but all the records were found and faxed to my recruiter who then sent them to Recruiting Command.  Smooth sailing now, right?  WRONG. 

A little over a week later a letter came back essentially saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.  We might reconsider if you get a letter from your physician showing you were released from care and a test showing your kidneys are clean.”  At first I was a bit discouraged, but I did not succumb thanks to some encouraging words from my dad and Mrs. Incredible.  This part I talked about in Monday’s post: “I would need…a procedure I’d think would cost thousands of dollars….”  Which, of course, wound up only costing $30 (Thanks, Dad).  So, then, I needed the records from my follow up doctor.

I was able to track down and contact the practice I went to for my follow up, but since it was ten years ago they’d need a couple of days to dig up the records.  A couple of days later the records were exhumed from the off-site archives and faxed to my recruiter and sent to Recruiting Command.  Smooth sailing now, right?  WRONG.

A message came back essentially saying that though these were records of release, there was no explicit “release of care” instructions in there.  So again, a little discouraged, a little resentful – I was thinking, this was over ten years ago!  What’s the deal??  Well, it’s easy to just write it off as bureaucratic red tape, but I don’t think that’d be accurate.  If I were out to sea and had a vital job to do, the Navy would prefer that I be unable to perform a vital function because I was injured by gunfire rather than a medical condition they could have saved money on by not hiring me in the first place; if it’s a foreseeable liability, practically speaking, particularly in our current economic environment, who would hire such a person?

So, then I got over myself, again, with words of encouragement from friends and family, and I tracked down the specific doctor…who had retired a few years ago.  New discouragement: here was the possibility this really might not work out.  But then, Mrs. Incredible just so happened to be seeing her doctor the day I learned this and he just so happened to mention that he was a medical officer in the Navy.  She jumped on that like ants on honey and explained my situation to him.  He said to talk to another doctor in the practice I went to, a chap who was there ten years ago with access to the records, and see if he’d be willing to write the necessary letter.

It took a couple of phone calls, trying to explain the situation, but he’s clearly a decent bloke, helping a fellow out and whatnot, and he wrote the letter on my behalf.  It was faxed to my recruiter who sent it off to Recruiting Command and…yesterday I had my physical for the Navy.  Now that’s a story for another day, suffice to say that I passed.

There was some doubt – and again, that’s a story for another day – but I saw God work in the littlest, yet most significant of ways and I passed; all clear.  The gentleman who interviewed me for my security clearance said I’m “more than qualified.”

So, smooth sailing, right?  …wrong.

There are currently no jobs available.  However – at the first of each month a report is put out indicating what, if any, jobs are.  Plus, the new fiscal year starts in October.  So, I could know next week, next month, possibly even next year.  The point is: God’s in charge of all this.  If I had gone charging off a couple of months ago, I would not have been ready.  Why I’m all clear but still not able to go in?  I don’t know.  “But I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.”  Right now, I wait.

But I don't sit idly by
I'm planning a big surprise
I'm gonna fight for what I want to be
I won't make the same mistakes
Because I know
Because I know how much time that wastes
And Function
Function is the key
To the the waiting room
Lyrics reprinted without permission; copyright 1989 Dischord; written by Ian MacKaye

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