Our story today features the trash man, the classmate whose job it is to go around taking trash out around campus, and one tall man, a classmate who is kind of lazy and gets bounced between jobs. Yesterday morning the trash man pulled his back trying to lift a particularly heavy load of trash and asked tall man to switch jobs for the day. A bit later, while I am assisting trash man in doing tall man's job, tall man walks in and, hoping for guidance as to when to go on a trash run, tells trash man that the trash truck is half full.
I ask if the trash truck is half full or half empty, which tall man doesn't hear so trash man repeats it.
Tall man says, "I don't know, let me go check", walks out the door, looks at the truck for a minute, comes back in, and says, "Sorry, you were right. It was half empty."
The reference to the famous glass half full personality test was missed so profoundly that I think some wholly new insight has been reached. The thought that the glass could be double checked had honestly never occurred to me. The thought that someone could hear that and not immediately recognize the equivalence of the two cases shows just how much we imagine to be automatic and instinctual arithmetic processing is actually learned.
Tall man is undenibly ignorant, a high school drop out only now getting his GED as part of the Piney Point program, and while I do find an inappropriate level of amusement in his poor vocabulary and lack of historical and geographical knowledge, he is doing a fine job of bettering himself, having moved visibly from a lazy, arrogant punk to something rapidly approaching a contributing member of society. In fact, out of the twelve in this class, he is the only one to respond positively to the faux military discipline and general bullshit of Piney Point, proof that the boot camp method of education does work for some people. Of course, it does nothing for the rest of us, and he has, despite his personal forward movement become the laziest person in class by virtue of the two lazier people getting kicked out.
Today as well we had our class on sexual harassment. We watched a badly acted video in which a racially diverse cast sexually harassed each other in hilariously inappropriate ways and then became rule citing robots who dealt with each harasser according to the procedures laid out in company policies. This was followed by a lively debate between the instructor (who believes that sexual harassment is a bad thing) and three particularly outspoken classmates offended by the notion that women aboard a ship are to be treated as real people, not "fuckmeat". I stayed well out of the conversation out of profound shame.
On the plus side, we were told that sexual harassment, out of all crimes and failings, is punished most harshly aboard a modern ship, subjecting a convicted harasser to firing by the company, suspension and punishment by the union, substantial civil lawsuit awards, and federal prison time. Despite this, it remains the third most common reason for firings aboard a ship. Talking to an upgrader who confirmed that that shit just isnt tolerated nowadays. The three who can't seem to get that are, in his opinion, not long for this industry.
With today's conversation in mind as well as the work ethic of my classmates, I can definitely see only four or five of us sailing still five years from now. It warms my heart to think that those bastards are going through all this bullshit and getting nothing for it but impoverishment and pain.