Observations on a Hail & Farewell
We got to the VFW hall at the appointed hour, the keg was already out, and it was Budweiser. This is good. Two pitchers into the pouring, the beer stopped flowing. This is not good. After watching the manager and others struggle with the keg and CO2 bottle for ten minutes, I thought I'd put all I learned at that high-powered engineering school to work and take a look. Turns out there's a small cut-off valve on the back of the regulator that was closed, and the beer was flowing again.
Sailors will talk and say anyting when they drink. I got to listen to an LDO ensign and the new MWR manager (civilian) argue, I mean really argue, about whether all officers should be prior enlisted or not. I got to listen to one officer regale us with a sea story about liberty in Slovenia, where after a night at the casino (think: free drinks), he woke up in bed with the XO the next morning, and the XO was naked (too much information). And I got to listen to the captain explain how to get a dead rabbit out of the jaws of a hungry basset hound - that's a first.
After a day of rehydrating and reflection, here are a few ground rules for planning a hail & farewell:
- Get a private room. We showed up to said VFW hall and discovered we were in with everyone else in the club. That would not have stopped us until two groups of enlisted Sailors came in and spread out through the room. We'll say all sorts of unflattering things about our fellow officers, and occaisionally drink to excess around complete strangers, but we won't do it around our own Sailors. Ever.
- Never bring your parents to a hail & farewell. I'm not making this up. One of the departing officers brought good old mom and dad, and the XO immediately shut down the meat of the farewell - the part where we say what we really think about the guy that's leaving, preferably with the most humor possible. At that point, it's just a beer-drinking exercise, and you don't need to drag fifty of your coworkers out for that.
- Shots bad. Beer good. (grunt) A timeless lesson that needs to be reinforced once in a while.
- Never, ever, find yourself in a small group that wants to finish the keg. Ouch. Maybe I will have just one more Motrin....