Gary Rinsem

Recruiting, Stupidity, Hate
Written in 1985

"I'd still enlist even knowing these two problems exist, because I had no options. Finding true love again makes it worth tolerating the hate."

Thanks to Cindy, Joe and Stacy the idea of enlisting in the Navy finally occurred to me when I was 23 years old. I knew... it was going to be my only chance in life. Years with no opportunities while constantly trying to create them, showed me there would never be any.

I remember the warm professional greeting and the odd smell as I walked into the recruiting office. I had no interest in other branches, only the Navy offered the lines I needed on a resume, to get a power plant job later. I sat at a desk talking to a Navy recruiter. He was very interested in me for several minutes until I answered one question wrong. No high school diploma and his demeanor changed completely. That first class petty officer somehow got to E6 without the brains of a fruit fly. He ignored everything else about me and was positive I was too stupid to tie my own shoes, simply because I had no diploma from a high school.

I left rejected because of his low IQ. I understood the situation and needed time to consider the options, to be certain I'd do and say what it would take to overcome the problem. After several more visits in a couple weeks, the idiot had been nothing but condescending. He was polite enough and professional enough, but several times he'd told me how much smarter he was than me, because he had a high school diploma and I didn't. I have met hundreds like him the last three years. Far too low an IQ to succeed in life, but they eventually make first class in the Navy. It's wise advancement policies that prevent them from becoming CPOs. You have to look to a chief in the Navy to be certain of finding intelligence.

On the fateful visit I'd had enough belittling from him. Getting nowhere and nothing to lose, I called him a moron and quickly pointed out things he'd said that proved my point. Too professional to reply, he challenged me to take his mini ASVAB test, claiming it would prove to me that I wasn't smart enough for the military.

Handing me a clipboard and pencil he walked me to the back of the office, to a test taking room. He stopped at each desk along the way to tell everyone I had no diploma and was so stupid I thought I could pass the ASVAB. Meanwhile, I was behind him taking the test. When we got to the room he ignored me as I told him the test was done. He just kept giving me instructions for taking the test, in the most condescending manner possible. To get his attention I had to yell that he was a moron.

On the trip back to his desk he again stopped to tell each person how stupid I was. I thought I could take the test while walking through the office. He scored my test and found more confusion than life had already given him. Still convinced a high school diploma determines intelligence, he decided I cheated to get a perfect score. He threatened vague consequences for cheating and ignored me telling him I needed to see his supervisor. I made enough noise to draw the attention of the lieutenant in charge of the office. He listened to the first class and asked me into his office. Finally, after a month or more I was in an office with someone capable. He understood the situation completely with no explanation from me.

The Lt. and I talked a while, he was trying to be subtle about evaluating me for enlistment. It was obvious, but he was a pro and it showed. Some questions troubled me. I was OK with asking about criminal history and drug use, but he spent far too much effort investigating my sexuality. It was only the beginning.

He asked if I had a few hours to spare. It became apparent I more than passed his tests when he drove me downtown to take the official ASVAB test. He had to pull strings, it's usually given to groups at scheduled times. The man in charge told him nobody had two hours to sit with one person taking a test. The Lt. guaranteed him I would be quick about it. They watched as I took the ASVAB. It didn't take long. The proctor was convinced to score it while we waited.

I don't remember my score and maybe wasn't told, but I became that lieutenant's personal project back in his office. He told me many requirements had to be met before I could enlist. He described it as a two month process, mostly waiting for background checks. I told him I couldn't wait that long, I'd have to get a job very soon. It worked, he worried a job would change my desire.

He could defer most requirements, but I had to... get a drivers license, pay off a pile of parking tickets and get a GED. The first two were easy, but he explained the GED process and it would take at least six weeks. I complained, he pulled strings. He got me into the GED program starting the next night. You're supposed to take a prep class on Monday night, study at home on Tuesday and take one section of the test on Wednesday night. Do that for three weeks in a row to finish the three sections of the GED. I got there on Wednesday and figured out the process by talking to a group waiting outside. One proctor gave all sections every Wednesday.

No questions asked, she gave me the first section without taking the prep class. Fifteen minutes later I asked for the second section. She refused, thinking she was keeping me from failing. I insisted and explained why. She agreed with my acceptance that the test time was shortened. Fifteen minutes later I returned the second section and was taken into the hall to be convinced that I couldn't finish the third section. She insisted I'd most likely already failed. Then what do I have to lose by trying? I returned the third section long before anyone else finished one. The proctor thought I was wasting her time. To get rid of me she agreed to score my tests while I waited in the hall. My overall score was in the 90s, I think 92%. She listened to my begging, then agreed to rush the processing of my test.

Friday morning the Lt. got my GED result on the teletype. He called wanting me in his office with my birth certificate. In four days I went from moron to genius in the eyes of the Navy. He pushed me to accept the nuke program. I insisted on boiler technician. Nuke would look better on my resume, but it's a six year obligation while BT is four. It wasn't worth two extra years when the only place I could use it was Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station. I've been there, I don't want to go back. Hello BT-A school. I hit boot camp the next week. That Lt. said it was the fastest processing he'd ever done.

End first part of enlisting. Here's the other side...

I saw homophobic hate within moments of first stepping into the recruiting office. I suspected it was on a massive scale based on how blatant it was. It took no time to find my suspicion was correct. They thought they were being subtle and they'd be right if subtle meant horribly obvious and horribly abusive of decent people.

It came laughingly in constant masked derogatory comments as multiple recruiters gathered to meet me. It continued throughout the enlistment process and for three years since. It wouldn't be as bad if it was just ignored by the Navy, as a wrong yet tolerated part of Navy culture. Instead, the Navy demands homo hatred.

It makes me HATE the US Navy. It makes me sick to play the game, but there's no other way I could have made Second Class Petty Officer in such a short time. I swore to myself I'd do what it took to succeed in the Navy. I only hope selling out pays off when I'm out. I can't wait for all of us to be clear of it. OK, this a depressing duty night with BB both home on leave. My tolerance might be affected.