In my first assignment at Beale AFB, circa 1977. I was chatting with my new neighbor.
“So wait, let me get this straight.” He said.
“You’re an officer.”
“And an Air Force Academy graduate?”
“And a pilot?!”
“Wow. You don’t act at all like an a**hole.”
That was Beale AFB.
Now, this next story happened when I was assigned to Space Division in Los Angeles as an Air Force engineer. Circa 1984. This was my very next assignment after Beale AFB.
It would soon be my 9 year point and I had already put in my papers to separate from the Air Force. I planned to use my engineering degree to make a living for us — without all the family separation that is par for the course for a military career.
After that decision, and paperwork, we discovered my wife was pregnant with our third child. After her recent severe illness, it had been recommended that any future children were out of the question.
She blamed it on not getting out of her sick bed soon enough.
A visit to the Long Beach Naval Hospital got us a referral to a civilian doctor who could provided specialized help in this pregnancy.
The pregnancy proceeded in parallel with my wife getting better from her illness. I wondered if all the high powered hormones might not be actually helping. But towards the end of the pregnancy she was getting very run down as the baby took more and more nutrition. Nutrition that she really needed.
The last month was very difficult and I put all my engineering brain power to the task of trying to keep her healthy.
There came a time when her contractions started to come. I payed close attention. I kept notes.
They way engineers do.
The contractions were building. The time came to take her in to see her doctor. Late in the evening.
There we sat, across from her doctor’s desk.
We must have interrupted her at some social event. She was very nicely dressed. My wife sat there worried and physically uncomfortable. The doctor scowled and read her charts and vitals.
I chose that moment to point out to the doctor my notes showing my wife’s contractions had been getting closer together.
The doctor set aside her notes and took up my notes and frowned at them. I was now worried. Frowning doctors are not a good thing if you wife is the patient.
A pause. A sigh.
She looked at my wife then and me and then back to my wife.
“He must be an asshole….or maybe an engineer.”
And then: “Why haven’t you killed him yet?”
Our child was born a week later.