Thursday, August 4, 2011

A day in the life - August 4, 2011

No, I do NOT think I look cool.
Being prohibited from taking my personal camera (phone) inside the complex where I work, coupled with creating half-hour documentaries every month, is really messing with my blogging.  There are things going on every day that I think you guys would be interested in, but I don't like to put up posts without pictures.  Not that I'm making excuses...

Anyway, I've been asked a bunch of times what a typical day as an Mass Communication Specialist is like.  Well, there's really no typical day.  That's part of what I like about it.  It's hard to stay motivated in a repetitive job right?  However, I realize that the details of my world are a mystery to those outside of it, so recently I kept track of a work day.  

A day in the life of an MC - Monday

0630 - I'm out the door and riding my bike down the hill to the base gym.  It's a PT day, and I'll be busy pumping iron until 0730.  The entire media department is there, except for the ones on duty.  There are six duty sections on the Nimitz, meaning everyone spends the night on the ship every six days.

"Gomez, want to play a game of racquetball?  I'll take it easy on you this time."

0800 - I'm singing in the shower, rejoicing in the privacy afforded to me by my wonderful barracks room.

"Black hole sun, won't you come, and wash away the rain?!"

0845 - The policeman guarding the gate into the shipyard asks me why I'm not wearing my reflective vest.  I respond that the sun is up, and ask what's going to reflect off my vest.   

"Reflective vests are required at all times while riding a bicycle."  -- "Ummm, ok."

0900 -  I'm standing in ranks for the morning muster.  Details of upcoming jobs are given out by Chief Jones, and he thanks us for a quiet weekend.  (DUIs are an ever-present issue.)  

"Damn I need to shine my boots."

0915 - One of my collateral duties is Training Petty Officer.  Several MCs have recently completed training on watchstanding.   Before I can work on Dry Dock episode 6, which is due in a week, I have to update the Sailors' records in the computer system.

Think of any newspaper shop you've seen in a movie, and ours isn't far off.  It's loud and chaotic.  My training update should only take about 10 minutes, but it's quickly extended.  An officer walks through the door and immediately looks at me.  This means I'm the lucky one to stop what I'm doing and see what he needs.  It turns out he needs a photographer for an award ceremony his department is having...that same day.  Many times, media is thought of at the last minute, which doesn't make our job any easier.  I grab the photo boss so he can find a photographer for the officer.

"I really need to work on my episode."

1000 -  I'm gathering my camera gear to shoot some video I need on the pier when Chief notifies me the shipyard workers are about to reattach one of the anchors.  He's been told last-minute, and genuinely feels bad that I must redirect to cover this event.  It's important footage for one of the upcoming episodes, and I'm the only videographer there that day.  The problem is, we have no idea how long it will take.  Attaching the massive anchor to its chain and dragging it up to its resting place could take hours.

"I really need to work on my episode."

1200 - Down in the dry dock, it's becoming clear that this is going to be an all-day event.  The anchor is being pulled up, then lowered, then raised again, in an attempt to line it up perfectly against the hull.

The anchor has to be set exactly or it could fall out of its holding place.  U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Ashley Berumen.
I have an eye appointment at 1300 so I radio in that I need someone to take over the camera for me.  I'm sent a fresh-from-A-school MC, Seaman Milner.  He's had the week-long video training at the Defense Information School, so he's not totally clueless.  I go over details on the camera, and stand by while he shoots some footage.  A shipyard worker comes up and jokes that we're not allowed to have cameras.  We can laugh because everyone knows by now that we're making a cool documentary.  The first few weeks were kind of rough, though.  Lots of people asking us if we had permits to shoot.

1230 - Satisfied that Milner isn't going to screw it up, I leave for my appointment, stepping in a massive puddle on way.

"Why can't they get us boots that don't leak?"

1400 - I run into Airman McCurry, one of the characters in episode 4.  She tells me she's being sent to security temporarily, which means she'll be undergoing a lot of training.  The thing about Dry Dock characters is you have to keep up with them.  Like me, their lives are constantly changing.  Soon she'll be headed to the firing range to get qualified on several types of firearms.  I tell her to keep me in the loop.

"Guns.  Definitely going to enjoy filming that."

1430 - With an hour left before the day ends, I am rushing to get just a little work done on episode 6.  This is where video experience/training is important.  Find what you need, shoot it, move on.  Today, it's Sailors moving up and down the pier, and the seagulls watching from above.  Keep an eye out for it when we release in about a week. :)

1530 -  We're standing in ranks, and Chief is telling us that we have to be flexible in this business.  This is largely for the benefit of the newbies.  There are no "normal" days, Chief says.

"Well that's ironic."

My day is my own after that, but I'll end up working on episode 6 in my barracks.  It's what has to be done if I'm ever going to finish.  Good thing I like what I do.

--- All meals were eaten on the run.


  1. The belleville boots that our supply issues us for flight deck ops has a Gore-tex liner and does not leak.

  2. Thanks for the heads up, I may have to check that out.