Monday, April 7, 2008

D-304: NMPS

It has finally begun, I had a nice weekend with my wife, said a long and very sad goodbye, and left for my first intermediate stop. Port Hueneme, a small SeaBee base in Ventura County, California, is where I will be attending NMPS (Naval Mobilization Processing Site).

Avoid changing planes at LAX at all costs. I arrived in Terminal 5 with my connecting flight leaving from Terminal 9. Not only did this constitute a three mile death march, but I was forced out past security and had to re-screen. Naturally, the spare laptop battery in my backpack was a device so alien to the security idiots, that they had to check it for dangerous materials of some kind by wiping it with a rag and feeding the rag through a machine. The retardation of these clowns is the staple of hack stand-up acts across the nation, so I won't bore you with any more analysis here.

The week was kicked off in style by United losing my luggage. This is the second time in two consecutive United flight where my bags did not arrive with me. I stayed up late to do a load of laundry at the BOQ, as I was a little funky from a day's travel. I will leave it to your respective imaginations to figure out how I managed to wash the only shirt, socks and underpants that I possessed. I arrived at 0730 for my first brief of the day in faded Lee jeans and a lavender polo with a little lime green horsey on it.

The first brief was long, but the short message was this: "You are about to endure a very long, boring and painful week filled with repeats of all the tasks that you've been driving to Wright Patterson Air Force Base to do all months long. I know it sucks, but just shut up about it." I realized that this speech was carefully crafted through months of dealing with a new batch of 50 or 60 cranky, bitter, non-volunteer Sailors every Monday morning. It was probably an important thing for us all to hear. The bottom line; this is stupid, but it's going to happen. I just wish I hadn't done any of it on my own, as it seems there is ample time here to repeat every checklist item.

The class has around 80 people, about half Chiefs and Officers. With few exceptions, virtually everyone seems to be giong to JCCS-1 in some capacity, so I have uncovered some more gouge, including a welcome aboard letter from the CMC which seemed a little dated, but was enlightening none-the-less. Mostly, the letter is the first thing that gave the impression that JCCS-1 is an actual command, and not just a place where I will stop before being shuffled off to some Army command.

The rest of the morning was spent filling in forms, with block by block instructions from some NMPS staffers. "Block 1, last name comma first name; Block 2, date of birth in day-month-year format," and on and on for two hours or so. We then filled out some online health assessment, "have you ever though about hurting yourself, do you have a family history of heart disease," and on and on.

Last, we were fitted for uniforms, and by fitted, I mean of course that we were directed 12 at a time to an outdoor CONEX box filled with piles of uniform parts where we were basically just supposed to find shit that fits. I was warned several times about the "one size fits all" mentality of the screeners by my CO, and decided that a few things were far to important to be treated so cavalierly; namely, the comfort of the shoes and the comfort of the pants that I would be wearing for the next 10 months in the world's most unforgiving climate.

I took my time trying on shoes, and ultimately decided on a 10.5W, which is insane because I never buy shoes smaller than 11.5, but that's military issue for you. Pants were somewhat more tricky, because as I stated earlier, we were outdoors. I looked around and noticed that everyone was trying on their pants over the top of their uniforms, and deciding on sizes. I found this unacceptable, I asked them to pop open another CONEX for us to change in, seeing as how the uniform supplier was a female, and I didn't think it was appropriate to drop my pants in front of her. They said that they couldn't, so I got over my modesty and dropped my trousers right out in the open, and slipped on a pair of large-long, which were too long, so I tried large regular which fit nicely. The moral of the story; if I decided not to drop my pants in front of the world, I would have spent 10 moths in Iraq with my pants to long.

After that we were cut loose, which was a nice surprise because it was a gorgeous day and I've never been to California (besides Lake Tahoe). I ran into a hinge from VAW 125 who has a rental car, and went with her and a helo guy to an outdoor restaurant on "the 1," which is a very cool piece of highway flanked by mountains on one side and the Pacific on the other.

We have to go back to NMPS at 2000 for some reason, I think I'll kill the time with some Battlestar Galactica.

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