Hypocrisy, Exposed

So let me tell you how my very liberal Submarine Commanding Officer banned me from discussing politics in the Wardroom — a ban he unjoyously retracted after a couple of weeks.
So, we are on the surface storming (16 knots) from submerged patrol near Hainan Island, enroute to Hong Kong — and hating every second of topside watches, because our submerged weeks in the South China Sea, grew tons of undersea growth, which smelled to high heaven as it died in the heat of the sun.

I looked forward to meeting my wife in Hong Kong. Since submarines were notorious for being diverted from scheduled ports and redirected to other ports, the guy who directed all covert submarines in the Pacific, Cdr. Pete Bucher, (later to be captured as the CO of the ill-fated USS Pueblo (AGER-2)), called my wife at 2am San Diego, to confirm at the last second that we would not get diverted. (He said, A-OK, and hung up!

As the designated “Wardroom Needle,” I was busy needling the very liberal Commanding Officer, slowly, day after day. “I’ll just bet, Skipper, that you really support child labor laws?” 

I then suffered quietly through many minutes of the advantages of child labor laws and their humane intent.

Next, I queried him about his position on retirement, minimum wage laws, working conditions, etc.

Just before we arrived in Hong Kong, I told him that I would be going to the tailoring shop to Her Majesty the Queen and having an entire wardrobe designed for my wife, soup to nuts, while he supervised the crew scraping the smelly barnacles, and he roared that he too would be buying at the same shop, while Mary Soo’s girls scraped the hull and repainted it.

I reminded him that Mary Soo’s girls worked for the leftovers from our crew’s meals, no minimum wages there! Too all extents, they worked for slop, fairly high-class slop to be sure, still…

And I reminded him that Hong Kong of the day, under British rule, had no child labor laws, no government welfare, no retirement for the elderly, no…

…and our shoes ($9 a pair, custom), would be glued and stitched by seven year old children, and our suits and wive’s custom Cashmere coats would be silk lined, cut and sewn by 80 year old women…

And my CO, said, “Hemphill, I won’t put you in Hack because Jean if flying in, but you are banned from discussing politics in this Wardroom!”

By the time we left Hong Kong, he had relented. But we both understood…

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