Sometime's it's Karma???
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22-09-2015, 06:33 AM
Sometime's it's Karma???
Karma and CIMs

I don’t believe in karma as a real thing - but it’s really amusing when circumstances happen that make it seem possible..

I was a US Coast Guard Radioman stationed at COMMSTA San Francisco (in Pt Reys Station, about 40 miles north of SF) in the early 1980's.

There was a guy - a First Class Radioman (E-6) who I’ll call “Chuck”. He was married to another First Class - a cute little lady from Hawaii, who was also a First Class. Everyone liked her. I’ll call her Darla. When I first met Chuck - I thought he was a bit of an asshole. This turned out to be true in so many ways.

Among our other duties, we processed message traffic for transmission and reception on landline teletype (TTY) circuits. You’ve probably never seen one – but you’ve heard them.. Anytime you hear an old “News Flash” in movies from before 1970 - you’d hear a clattering noise - as the announcer says “This just in” ----- That noise is that of a TTY ASR-28 - a mechanical unit that allowed the transmission of text at 100 wpm over landline - or radioteletype. At this time - they were just changing over to a CRT/keyboard unit that replaced the clattering monsters - but the transmission mode was still the same.

When you sent a message over these units - you had to put a coded header on the message – and if it wasn’t perfect (like a case sensitive password) it would get rejected by the system - and you’d get a CIM – a Communications Improvement Memorandum. No big deal - it just said you made a typo.

A few months after I got stationed there - we got a different memo from the system manager – a Zero CIM Memo. It said simply - you went a whole month without making a single typographical error – impressive - when you consider the thousands of messages that could go through the station in a month.

Chuck got it into his head that we should be able to do this EVERY MONTH. He somehow convinced the Commanding Officer that it was an obtainable goal - and if he was put in charge - he’d make sure it happened.

The outcome – telling people to NEVER make a mistake - was inevitable. The CIM rate skyrocketed. We were made to come in on our days off – for “CIM Training” — that is – to do the routing headers, while NEVER making a typo.

I bitched, and bitched loudly. I even went to the CO and told him that Chuck was out of his mind if he thought he could teach us to be perfect. I got a dressing down and told I was “uncooperative”..

In the meantime — Things weren’t so happy at Chuck and Darla’s happy home.

The first clue anyone had - was one afternoon when I was over in the base housing with a friend of mine named Tony - also a Radioman – who happened to be in the same duty section as Darla.
We were in the front of his house working on his station wagon. Darla came running down the street – crying. She ran past us and yelled at us - “KEEP HIM AWAY FROM ME!!”. She then ran to one of the other housing units, pounded on the door and went inside.


We’re standing there with our jaws hanging - when Chuck comes running down the street - half dressed and looking like a maniac. It took about .0001 second to figure out who Darla meant by “HIM” – so we took action.

He outranked the two of us - but we outnumbered, outweighed and were better armed – me with a big screwdriver and Tony with a 12 inch crescent wrench. We stood in his way - and after a bit of verbal abuse he ORDERED us to get out of his way. We told him to go fuck himself. (Later on - we got cleared by saying we had a previous order - from Darla - who outranked Chuck by virtue of time in rank - a few months longer ---- the first incidence of karma in this story).

Turns out Chuck was as big an asshole at home as he was at work. We got it through the grapevine that he had become physically and verbally abusive. They separated immediately. (Good for her, we all said). The divorce was soon to follow – including a restraining order on Chuck. Darla got custody of the two kids (both under 3 years old). She kept the house in the base housing unit - and her mom flew in from Hawaii to help out for a while (nice lady. Funny as hell - could tell a story far better than I ever will) . Chuck - was forced off base and had to get a house in Santa Rosa - about 30 minutes away. He was granted supervised visitation rights.....

IN THE MEANTIME – the CIM program was STILL going on – we got knocked down from 5 duty sections to 4 duty sections (meaning we lost a lot of time off) – and our message handling rate sucked ass – because we were double checking our own work - then getting two other people to re-check our checking - and re-re- checking our checking.... It was insane.

Somehow - Chuck still had the CO convinced he was handling everything perfectly.

Then came Karma - ready to kick ass and take names later.

It was close to Christmas – and Chuck called up Darla - drunk – and insisted he wanted to come see the kids for Christmas. She didn’t want him driving drunk - so she went and picked him up in her car. On the way back to the base - they got into an argument - and Chuck got out of the car - at about 60 mph - on the road that traverses the Nicasio Reservoir. He went tumbling down the rocky bank -and seriously beat his ass to a pulp. Darla stopped - backed up - and climbed down and dragged him back to the car and dumped him in the back seat. She then rushed him to the Medical Center at the Coast Guard Training Center in Two Rock – the closest medical facility.

He first told the Security Chief (who happened to be a riding buddy of mine, so I got the whole story) - that she’d thrown him out of the car. Not likely – he outweighed her by 75 lbs at least – he changed his story - and said she’d pulled a gun on him. Of course - she didn’t have one, or even own one. He then changed his story again - and said there was a guy in the back seat with a gun who threw him out. My buddy told me if they’d kept questioning him that he’s sure that little green alien men would have been the ones who threw him out. My buddy was convinced Darla’s story was true - and he was pretty sure Chuck was just fucking insane.

Turns out he was right.

Seems Chuck was on some anti psychotic medications – and was undergoing treatment – we didn’t know being an asshole was a medically defined condition. The meds mixed with alcohol - which he’d been doing plenty of - were NEVER supposed to be taken with booze. He’d been going to a civilian doctor - to avoid going to a military doctor -----

Because doing those meds meant he loses his top secret security clearance (we all had to have those) – which meant he’d be out of a job.

A week or two later, after getting out of the hospital. He lost his security clearance - and they put him on as a dayworker in the non-secure part of the building – filing paperwork.

The CIM program evaporated.

And I made up a sign that showed the back of a car - with a stick figure with a martini in it’s hand - diving out the passenger side. It bore the legend “No Diving Under the Influence”.
It stayed on the bulletin board over the weekend - and got lots of laughs – and didn’t disappear until Monday morning when the CO and the other dayworkers got there...


I'm a double atheist. I don't believe in your god or your politician.
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