Admiral Rickover stood high on the podium overlooking the assembled shipyard workers. All shifts were mandated to appear at his 0930 address as were the Marine contingent and any Navy personnel from berthed submarines. The press was there with representatives from the Boston Globe and the New York Times. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing–it was a crisp October day. The tide was out and the odor was not from me this time.
Rickover must have been standing on a platform since he looked tall and foreboding. I remember he was a little guy from my one and only meeting with him during my Navy internship. He began by acknowledging all those groups present and then opened with the problem–quality control at Naval Shipyards and Portsmouth New Hampshire in particular. His voice was powerful and echoed around the vast Navy yard. He discussed strict rules and total intolerance to absenteeism from other than legitimate documented reasons. Alcohol use on site was absolutely banned among the workforce on duty. He threatened with a voice that caused windows to rattle that if faulty work practices continued Washington and the Department of the Navy would shut down Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Captain Fisher grabbed my arm. “Thank God he made no reference to me or you or your research paper. Stay right here after the others leave. The Admiral will be coming over to us.”
I developed a chill and began contributing to the low tide essence as Rickover came over.
“Captain Fisher. Good of you to attend. Notice there was no applause after I finished. That’s good. It means they understood the message.” Rickover looked at me. “LCDR Glassman.” He read my nameplate. “Do I know you? You look familiar or maybe it’s your name.”
Fisher spoke first. “Admiral, Dr. Glassman is the author of the original report on the ER healthcare flow here at Portsmouth.”
Rickover’s eyes widened. “Oh, that Glassman. We have a few Glassmans in the Navy. Yes, Captain Fisher. I must say well done. You both have saved lives and maybe even saved this shipyard.”
Rickover’s aide, a Navy Line Officer Captain, reminded him of the time.
“I have to be going.” He stopped, turned around and stared at me again. “You do look familiar LCDR Glassman.”
I saluted and he returned the salute, turned around and went to his waiting car.
What was I to say? “Admiral I was the LT-Navy Intern who made your barium enema a tolerable experience four-years ago? Or Admiral, I introduced you to a humane bowel prep and painless venipuncture for your annual physical at St. Albans Naval hospital. Or I was the boomer sub medical officer who found radioactive cockroaches on the Thomas Jefferson.” Instead I thanked my higher power for keeping my mouth shut.
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