One thing that I never really thought of before getting to COT is uniform inspection. The first class each day in our flight room is generally an inspection class. That means that the first thing we do when the instructor walks in is call the room to attention so that the instructor—usually Snake Eyes—can look over our appearance. He comes within inches of your face. As I think I’ve said before, Snake Eyes has this awesome stare that bores a hole right through you, and he puts it to good use during inspection. What is he looking for? Everything. Pants bloused correctly. Pockets buttoned. Hair within regulations. Rank correctly displayed. But above all else, the tiny strings that hang off of every stitch and buttonhole.
The night before my first inspection class one of my flightmates with prior Navy service came into my room and told me to be sure to take care of my Irish pennants—the historical name for the tiny strings hanging from every stitch on your uniform. I asked him where the name came from. He didn’t know. It turns out—as I suspected—to be a derogatory term, reflecting the view of early British sailors that the Irish under their command did not keep a clean and tidy uniform. So we won’t call them that. They’re just strings.
There are some tools of the trade for taking care of them. Small, sharp scissors are a must. Nail clippers work in a pinch. And a lighter is usually required to get the super-tiny threads—only don’t hold the flame to the thread for too long or you’ll burn the uniform. (I found that out through experience; luckily, the black mark is tiny and virtually unnoticeable.) The little buggers truly are demonic; you can spend an hour clipping strings and still find more little strings to take care of. But you do it, because if you don’t, Snake Eyes and his laser-beam stare certainly will find them.
|Going to work on my uniform.|