The Dread Newbie

Ah, the dread Newbie. We’ve all been the Newbie, and we all know the Newbie. In the Navy, we mercilessly tasked the Newbie with errands such as obtaining a bottle of Prop Wash from the Engine Room, requesting a Military Bearing from the Supply Officer, or simply donning every piece of foul weather gear they could find and waiting for the mail buoy. In the middle of a strategic deterrent patrol on a Trident submarine, that last one was the Holy Grail of stealing innocence.
If we weren’t busy indoctrinating them as such, we were constantly berating these “non-quals” for eating our food, drinking our water, taking up our space, and breathing our air (that’s right, you landlubbers – we made our own oxygen on the boat.) It never seemed to take long, though, before these fresh-faced, wide-eyed lads were just as salty as Senior Chief George Cooper, who famously claimed to have spent more time in the washroom (not his exact words) at test depth than the rest of us had spent in the Navy. And, no offense to my respected civilian colleagues, but, to a man, they were the finest group of people I’ve ever been associated with.
Ah, the dread Newbie. A blessing or a burden? So much to learn and so much to do before they’re a productive member of the team. But hey, we all have to start somewhere and sometime, right? If not here, then where? If not now, then when?
There’s also the “fresh perspective”, “from-the-mouth-of-babes” angle to consider. This may or may not be an urban legend, but I like the story about the truck that was a few inches too tall for the underpass. Its roof was jammed tight against the unforgiving underbelly of the roadway overhead. The police, tow truck drivers, highway safety personnel and emergency professionals of all sorts were out of ideas and at wit’s end. When all hope seemed lost, a boy in one of the cars being held up at the scene asked his dad, “Why don’t they just let some of the air out of the truck’s tires?” The dad, being desperate to get home (I think it was meat loaf night), approached the person-in-charge with the idea. It, of course, worked, and they all lived happily ever after – thanks to the boy who likely didn’t even know he was thinking “out of the box.”
Ah, the dread Newbie – it’s me, again.
Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
Phone (513) 671-3322
Fax (513) 671-3363

4 thoughts on “The Dread Newbie

  1. In our old shop we would generally send the newbie off to hunt for the key to the basement. Of course the shop had no basement. From the vantage point of the givers of this harassment [when done in good nature], the act is a ham handed effort at inclusion. The danger is that there is no guarantee that the initiate will take it in a positive light.

    We do tell new employees here that we invite their input, especially when they might bring to our attention methods that were used at their last place of employment. Telling them they can have a positive impact, and we would appreciate their involvement in our improving.

    1. Kyle, thanks again for the comments. Fortunately Russ, by way of this blog entry, has alerted us (and now the blogosphere) that he can handle the ribbing – let the games begin. Russ’ input has already been helpful and I am certain there is more to come.

  2. Good article, Russ–good reminder to think about how newbies are treated–and when they suddenly become worthy of our attention. (PS> My husband, who worked in air photo intelligence in the Navy, says your stories reminded him how they used to tell the new guys to go find some cloud remover for the film. )

  3. Welcome to the EXAIR Team!
    I enjoyed your blog and look forward to working with you.
    “Newbies” remind me of spring. Fresh ideas and unique interpretations of what we all take for granted. Like fertilizer for personal and professional growth.

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