Ask the Chief: Mop-N-Glo memories

I do not recall Sailors or Marines scrubbing, polishing or sweeping (on hands and knees) featured in recruiting or Hollywood military movies. But cleaning living quarters with keen eye to removing specks of dust or a random human hair helped turned generations of civilians into military personnel. Being a just-promoted Navy seaman (or fireman or airman) apprentice (E-2) or seaman (E-3) attending a Navy “Class A” fundamentals school, the officer and enlisted managers of the schools and the barracks ran them as an extension of recruit training. These school managers were fastidious in weekly inspections of barracks rooms and our uniforms; we grumbled among ourselves to prefer being sent straight to the “Fleet”.


“A School” was just as much about learning Navy “life hacks” as it was about acquiring one’s trade fundamentals. And acquiring a perspective how to work “smarter, instead of harder”. After the first or second inspection, we would seek out the ‘skinny’ to obtain best result with the minimum output of effort. For dress uniform inspections, we learned of a local shop that specialized in neckerchief rolling, or ribbon-mounting (having only one, a National Defense ribbon as a recent enlistee, the shop catered primarily to senior military enlisted and officers). Though we had some who proudly shined their leather shoes to perfection, most of us purchased Corframs, patent-leather shoes as soon as we could.

It was some of our “Fleet returnees”, sailors and Marines returning for formal training, who gave us techniques to dazzle the inspectors. We learned quickly. Knowing that even a “spotless” room might receive an arbitrary review for “uneven” sheen using the Navy-standard floor wax and electric floor buffer, the secret these “salty” E-4s and E-5s passed us, involved the use of an acrylic liquid wax like Mop-N-Glo. Both techniques required ‘elbow grease’ and an absolutely clean, cleanser-free, surface. But the latter was applied with sponges. As the acrylic would be as easily marred by shoe scuffs, we all agreed to walk in our socks once inside the doorway.

Sometimes we might make two consecutive inspections before having to deep clean and reapply acrylic. As we learned later, many of the school staff would be more diligent when inspecting a barracks room that had a “Fleet returnee” in it. These were the first of many ‘life hacks’ I would acquire as a result of military experiences. Though I have not used a buffer nor Mop-N-Glo in 30 years, memories return when I visit a home where the resident has a sign requesting shoes to be left at the doorway. And if I have an appointment at an office building or military base, the sheen on the floor triggers silent appreciation for the “buffer technician”.

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