I feel old. Today happens to be my 35th birthday, so I'm not really that old. It's all relative though, and I'm one of the oldest guys I get to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Being the XO, the only other officer older than me is the captain. In the crew, only the two master chiefs and a couple of the senior chiefs are older than me. Most of the crew is in their low twenty-somethings. That simple fact in an of itself doesn't make me feel old. It's the interactions I have with my younger crew members that drive the point home. For example:
- I first started feeling old when I made a joke in reference to the Johnny Carson show and nobody in the room knew what I was talking about.
- Recently at lunch in the wardroom, we were talking about "classic" movies, and I was alarmed to discover I was the only one who had seen either Star Wars or Back to the Future IN the movie theater.
- My taste in 80's music has become a common theme in hail-and-farewell gag-gifts (Billy Idol hair wig and collection of 80's music on CD for example).
- In May, we had 205 midshipmen rotate through spending a day at sea on a submarine. We took 24 midshipmen at a time out for 24 hours of submarine life, and the first several groups included 9 women. I sat down to lunch in the wardroom, and the girl sitting next to me looked AWFULLY familiar, but I just couldn't place where I knew her from. We had the midshipmen each tell us their name, what school they were going to and what their major was, and where they were from. We got to the girl sitting next to me, and she said she was from all over because her dad was a submariner. The Captain asked, "Oh yeah? What boat was he on?" She said he was the CO of the TOLEDO, and that's when the light went off over my head. When I was a JO (junior officer) on USS PROVIDENCE in Groton, CT, I rented a house in Mystic with two other JOs. Our next door neighbor was then the XO on the BOSTON (and later the CO on the TOLEDO), and he had a cute little girl named Katie who was like 7 years old. Yep, here was little Katie... now an adult and wearing a uniform and sitting next to me at the wardroom table.
Thankfully, someone recently gave me a bullet to put on the OTHER side of this "it's all relative" argument. Last Friday, we did a VIP cruise where we took out a couple of dozen local business and industry leaders to show them what life on a submarine is like. Shortly after they embarked and were being welcomed in the Crew's mess, I walked in and someone introduced me as the XO or "second in command" of the submarine. One of the ladies in the group gasped and said, "He's so YOUNG!"
So yeah, age IS relative, but I find with the demographics of most of the people I work with, the only evidence I normally see is from the "I'm old" perspective.