I love the smell of Pine-oil cleanser. Many years ago, I was taught, or should I say, I was indoctrinated, in proper cleaning technique by the United States Navy. One of the cleansers we used was Pine-oil, in water. With a mop and a wringer bucket – known as a swab and a cadillac, respectively and a tremendous amount of elbow grease, we would render things sanitary. One of the least sanitary places,the bathroom – head to the Navy and Marines, a latrine, to Army and Air Force, was subject to daily, or even twice-daily cleaning. In boot camp, there are two primary skills impressed on the incoming rag-tag civilian to turn him into military personnel. Behind all the barking orders, trash can tossing, marching, calisthenics, and of course, basic military training, is attention to detail, and instinctive obedience to orders.
Cleaning is one of those “attention to detail” skills. One of the favored techniques of boot camp instructors when our unit was housed in Korean War -era barracks, was to set us to performing “field day” (deep cleaning) the barracks. These were a magnet for dust, flaking paint and generally the decks (floors) were yellowed or dull. The reward for passing inspection was relief from a marching drill, calisthenics, or even a short recreation period. The punishment for failing that inspection was enduring the former two choices and then, to field day all over again. As a trainee at a military technical school, the same inspections and field days occur, though the “Fleet Sailor” is normally separated from the recent boot camp graduates at a training command.
You see, the “Fleet Sailor” has learned over years, that drills, inspections, and cleanliness are necessary, but she has developed a cynicism, a sarcastic response -mouth, and a few shortcuts to the cleaning process, particularly at a training command. Enter Pine-Sol and Future acrylic floor shine. Pine-Sol cleans very thoroughly, and even a few drops will permeate the living quarters to smell “clean”. Since waxing is a very time-consuming process to get applied properly and looking even, Future, when the floor has been thoroughly stripped of wax and cleaned, and applied carefully, generally resulted in inspection grades of “OUTSTANDING”. And that normally resulted in a duty-free day. That was, relief from standing a watch. Of course, the acrylic easily scratched, so occupants of those quarters would leave shoes by the door when entering the room for the next several days.
Some fifteen years later, aboard ship, our Executive Officer, “XO”, would periodically inspect areas of the ship to determine if the proper attention to detail was being paid. One favorite memory involved him, in coveralls and gloves, flashlight in hand, prostrate on the deck in the head next to a urinal. I was carrying a clipboard to note deficiencies. Up came the XO with palm up glove “asking” the senior Petty Officer in the compartment, “WHAT IS THIS, PETTY OFFICER?”
“PUBES, SIR”, he replied.
Pubic hairs on the deck behind the urinal and some dried pee were contributing factors to impending doom in armed conflict with an adversary. It indicated a lack of attention to detail. It was the XO’s job to see to it that everything on a ship was as near perfection as humanly possible. Efficient machines and a capable crew, ready and able to fight catastrophe – fire, accidents, flooding, and the unexpected has saved lives.
And now twenty-five years later, three boys now grown, and living in one of the dustiest environments I have experienced, with shed-prone dogs, my home has only been subject to a ‘fairly good’ field day about once a month, and a decent sweep and swab each week before company comes over. I am not complaining. Were I to dare to get out the glove, flashlight and query about pubic hairs and pee, the “Admiral” would point me in the direction of a bucket and swab and have me re-do it.
My former Commanding Officer and now, Rear Admiral, would probably be smiling, approving of an old Senior Chief getting re-acquainted with the swabbie skills. She always like my wife, the Ombudsman as much if not more than me.
Where the heck is the Pine-oil? I need to get to work.