Restriction gave me a cyst, Part II

17 03 2008

Something else worth mentioning about restriction is the fact that there was sort of an unspoken rule about who you choose for extra duty. To obtain somebody for extra duty, all you had to do was make a call to the right person. You could request somebody by name, which helped with the hook ups, or just get a random person.

When you requested somebody for extra duty, the unspoken rule was that you wouldn’t request somebody from your own division. If you were in Engineering division, you would request somebody from Deck or Supply, for example. It’s all part of looking after your own people.

So far, the restriction I described probably doesn’t sound to bad. It’s better then being in the brig, thats for sure. So what I described isn’t that bad, honestly, especially if you are at sea and nobody can leave the ship anyway. However, I left out the worst part (to me, at least).

When you are on restriction, you have to muster 5 times a day. For you military-illiterate, “muster” is a fancy word for “gather” or “meet.”

You would have to muster at the MA’s office at 0630, 1200, 1400, 1800, and 2030 (something like that, I don’t remember the exact times).

The MA is the Master at Arms, which is a Navy rating (MA2, MA1, MAC, and so fourth). MA’s are basically the police force of the Navy, and they were in charge of people on restriction, among their other responsibilities. Forget that crap about “Military Police” (they do exist, but not on ships), the MA’s were the cops on the ship.

The whole point of mustering five times a day was to make sure we couldn’t just sleep or goof off (mostly on weekends or holidays, because during a normal work day you are up and working anyhow). Let’s say you are in port and it’s a Saturday. You can’t sleep in because you have to muster at 0630. You can try and go back to sleep, but you have to muster again at 1200. You really wouldn’t try to go back to sleep anyway, as they only serve breakfast from 0700 to 0800 (in port), and since you can’t leave the ship, if you don’t eat when you can you just don’t eat. Then there is another muster at 1400, then at 1800 for extra duty, then again at 2030.

The worst was the 2030 (8:30pm) muster because it meant you really couldn’t relax until after that. Lets say one of your friends hooked you up and you got out of doing any actual extra duty. In a way, it doesn’t matter because you can’t really chill out until after 2030, and that muster usually involved some sort of uniform inspection anyway.

To make things worse (although I guess that was the point), the last time I was on restriction the MA’s started some serious bullshit. They made people on restriction move to the newly acquired “restriction berthing.”

A berthing is another word for “room where you sleep and keep your stuff.” Before, you stayed in your division’s berthing if you were on restriction, but the last time I had to move most of my shit to some crappy berthing on a different deck.

In the restriction berthing, the MA’s could keep track of you better. If you weren’t in your rack at taps (lights out, bedtime, whatever you want to call it), they would know. They could inspect your locker at any time (which was true for your regular locker, but the MA’s would inspect the restriction lockers randomly just to justify their existence), inspect your bedding for an improperly folded blanket, and pretty much treat you like you were in boot camp again.

I got lucky though. When I was on restriction the last time, we were at sea (Operation Iraqi Freedom). When at sea, you (well, me and the rest of us) stand watch at all different hours of the night, so you had an excuse if you weren’t sleeping in the correct place at 3am. I would just tell them I had watch at so and so time, and they would believe me. It wasn’t a lie, I always had watch at night, but it got them to overlook my restriction rack so I could go sleep in my regular rack. Only two times out of 45 days did I actually sleep in my restriction rack, and that was because I had a watch that didn’t occur in the middle of the night.

So I mentioned something about a cyst, huh? I’ll get to that another time.

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