Here is chapter 7 of my memoir “Government Property – A Memoir of a Military Wife

Here is the link to the whole memoir. Parts 1-6 are already posted.

Chapter Seven

Officer’s Club Part-Time

Andy decided that I needed to get a job. He wanted several things, and so we needed another income. Now I was an enlisted man’s wife, but the opening was in the Officer’s Club. I took it as a waitress. I had never been a waitress before, but my customer service skills were exceptional, although my memory and clumsiness were not helpful. Luckily only one man got a bowl of hot soup in his lap.

Officers think they are better than anyone else. Enlisted personnel and, of course, their spouses were treated as if we were not even humans by many of them. I don’t want to paint them all that way, but a lot of them were awful. They didn’t believe in tipping, but we only made less than $2.00 per hour and needed those tips. The club put up signs, but it didn’t help. And heaven forbid we showed any disrespect towards them, although they could disrespect us. That is one thing that made me the maddest. They were no better than my enlisted husband or me, but they could treat us like dirt. I know that is the way of the military, but it isn’t right.

I had been working there for some time when I became pregnant with child number two. We had to wear white waitress tops, but I quickly grew out of mine. I had to find a white shirt like what the waitresses were wearing but was large enough to conceal my pregnant belly comfortably. I continued waitressing until the doctor said I had to get off my feet. By this time, my belly was so big that I could support the tray on it. After some negotiating, they decided that I could take on a hostess’s duties and sit while I wasn’t seating customers. The doctor approved this, and there was no time limit as to when I had to leave. That is why I was coming home from work the day I went into labor. I was also allowed to wear regular business casual maternity wear, rather than my waitress outfit. 

The more pregnant I became, the harder it was for me to find a comfortable spot at work to rest between incoming customers. We weren’t allowed to sit down in front of the customers, but they had to give me special dispensation since I was pregnant. They had put out a stool as the doctor ordered, but the constant up and down was rough, and my feet were beginning to bother me as well.

People made snide remarks about me working and being so pregnant. Some complained that I was taking a job from someone else who wasn’t pregnant. Some people can be so ignorant. I must remember this was 40 years ago or so, and thinking was different.

We only had one car, so that meant I would get up early and take Andy to work in the morning. I would do what I had to do during the day, doctor’s appointments and shopping, etc. Then I left in enough time to pick him up, and he would then drop me off and take our oldest daughter and take care of her until I returned later that night. Or if I didn’t have a ride, he would pack her up and come pick me up.

One of my coworkers saw what was happening, and since we usually worked together, she offered to take me home, eliminating one of the trips on the days I worked. I wish we could have afforded another car, but since in the end he had to drive a U-Haul and, I the car, on our final trip back to New Jersey, it was just as well we only had one.

One of the rules they enforced was that everyone had to work every Tuesday because it was Mongolian Night, and it was packed. The penalty for missing that shift without an excellent reason was termination from the job. On this one Tuesday, I had a significant allergic reaction to a drug given to me at the base hospital the night before. My face was swollen and looked horrid, and I couldn’t see with my eyes swollen shut. Plus, my fingers and toes were so swollen it was like being a duck as they touched each other. I couldn’t lift things so, if I didn’t scare them away, I wouldn’t have been able to serve them anyhow. I had to go in and show them what I looked like so they would excuse me. I also couldn’t wear shoes, so I showed up there barefoot to show them exactly what the allergy had done to me. They had no choice but to excuse me without penalty.

Now this base was an air station. There was a runway on the airstrip that we had to cross over to get to the Officer’s Club. When the aircraft was going over, traffic must stop. This way, no one was on the runway if a plane were to crash or veer off. One day I pulled up to the stop sign, stopped, and made sure I was clear to go, and then took off across the open area of the landing field. I was almost nine months pregnant and could barely fit behind the wheel of my car. A car came roaring after me and ran me off the road. I was on my way to work and afraid I was going to be late. Not to mention that I was terrified and worried about my baby, as well. This person driving the car was a nut. It had to be.

I sat there shaking, trying to get myself together. The car was still behind me. Finally, he got out of his car and came up and knocked on my window. I didn’t know what to do but finally rolled it down a little bit.

He started screaming at me for going across the airway stretch of road. I told him there was nothing in the air, and we didn’t have to stop if there was no flashing light, although I always checked just to make sure. He told me that it didn’t matter, and he was going to report this. He went back to his car.

I drove to work before I was any later and called my husband. Finally, I calmed down and got to work before I got in trouble.

The next day the military police (MPs) appeared at my door. They told me that they had a ticket for me because the man following me had been an officer, and he was, if I remember correctly, affiliated with the MPs. I looked at the ticket, picked up the phone, called my husband, and told him what was going on. He told me not to do anything, and he would be right there.

He got there and took the ticket. The MP’s didn’t know what to do, and they were contacting their commanding officer. By now, Andy said, “Do not sign it!” The ticket was chock full of mistakes, and the whole thing was ridiculous. Since an officer filed the complaint and I was only the wife of an enlisted man, I was expected to comply and not even say anything in my defense. So, I refused to sign it, and those two MPs are telling their commanding officer (CO) that I had refused to sign. Their commanding officer finally told them to leave it and come back to their office. There was a court date on it, plus the officer’s name.

I remembered the man’s name and watched for him at the Officer’s Club. He did come in one day, and I didn’t say anything, but I wanted nothing to do with him. He didn’t remember me, or I am sure he would have said something.

I had gone to the court date and told my side of it. I was right anyhow, but this guy was new to the base and didn’t know any better. The judge told me to be careful, and since the officer didn’t bother to show up, they threw the whole thing out of court. All of this happened while I was about to have my baby. It’s a wonder that the situation hadn’t brought on my labor.

I went back to work after daughter number two had arrived. So, I was waitressing again. We had two children now, and our best friends, Charlie and Kim, ended up babysitting for us. Both of our children were attached to them. Charlie and Kim wanted children so badly, and they took great care of our children. A few times, we threatened to drop them off during the night when they wouldn’t sleep, and they both told us if we did, we wouldn’t get them back.

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