merchant mariner families








...a highly unusual, sometimes maddening,
but mostly comical way of life.







January 03, 2013

beady's law


   When a good friend of mine’s husband left for sea, nearly every single light bulb in the house went out that evening.  A minor inconvenience, easily remedied, but it seemed as if the universe was sending her a message, perhaps putting her on notice!  “I know he’s gone…I’ve just been waiting for him to leave…get ready!”  (Cue loud clap of thunder, bolt of lightning, and eerie, shadowy figure laughter.)  Sound familiar? 
   You all know it; you’ve all experienced it, that phenomena swirling about your mariner, enveloping them in a shield of security and comfort?  The one that also goes back to sea with them and leaves you in the lurch?  It’s what I refer to as Beady’s Law.   (Beady is my mariner.) 
   When Beady is home, it’s just as fine as a Disney movie.  The birds are chirping, the forest animals feed from the palm of our hands, healthy living abounds, the weather is beautiful--you get my meaning?  But then the moment arrives for him to head back to sea, and as I drop him at the airport and turn the wheel towards home, an alarming sound issues from the car engine.  ‘Not now!’ I demand, ‘He’s only just left!’  ‘Yes, now’ replies Fate with a snicker, ‘Isn’t this the life YOU chose?’   
   This incident is simply one in the hundreds that have occurred in my nearly eight years of being married to a mariner and over ten of being the child of one.  You’d think I’d be used to it by now, that I’d anticipate it, perhaps even laugh at the irony because, after all, the car ran fine when he was home.  It was in perfect condition for my “Golden Boy.”  But I’m not used to it, I never anticipate it, and I’m far from amused when it’s actually happening.  So I grit my teeth and deal with it, as we all do.  I take care of it, as we all do.  And I nod my head in resignation, knowing full well my mariner has taken that shield of security and comfort with him out to sea and that now, I’m on my own.  Beady’s Law is in effect!  
   It’s the strangest thing, isn’t it?  The children become as sick as they’ve ever been, the furnace goes out in the dead of winter, beloved animals have to be put to sleep, the ceiling starts leaking, skunks surround the house in a most ominous fashion, weirdos knock at your door, mice invade the cupboards, and you contract the worst case of pneumonia doctors have ever seen!  And to top it off, the inevitable layer that comes with having a mariner in your life, you can’t seem to get any sympathy or validation from your non-mariner friends, as they invariably give you the nuttiest looks and comments.  “You knew this was what life would be like when you married him, right?”  Or “I guess you shouldn’t have gotten involved with a merchant mariner.”  And my personal favorite, “Well, you’d better get used to it.”  This last one is almost always from a woman who can’t go a night without her husband and has a meltdown if she has to take the car for an oil change due to some scheduling mishap with hubby!  But I digress…  
   What is this phenomena?  Why does it happen?  Is it all just a series of tests meant to make us better people?  If that’s the case, can I opt out on a few of the examinations?
  Witness just how powerful Beady’s law can be!  Before my husband and I met each other, he was involved with another woman, living with her, very much in love.  When he left for sea, crappy things happened, as can occur sometimes, and they ended the relationship.  It was necessary for him to move out, but what could he do, he was a thousand miles away at work? 

              NO NEED TO FEAR… BEADY’S LAW IS HERE!

   His family actually moved him out of the apartment!  So not only did he NOT have to schlepp all of his stuff out of the place, he didn’t even have to deal with her and all the messy junk that comes with physically breaking ties with someone you love very much.  His family broke up with her, not him!  They threw their backs out lifting a ridiculously gigantic television, not him!  They moved “The World’s Largest Couch and Matching Sofa” from there to storage, not him!  Who does that happen to?  A mariner, that’s who.
   Do I sound bitter?  Maybe.  How about frustrated?  It’s a strong possibility.  But I’m fairly certain the emotion that surfaces most of the time, the one I’ve seen on the face of my friend as she related the story of the hateful light bulbs, is jealousy.  SURPRISE!!  Yup, I’m actually jealous of my husband, more often than not, when the door to the seventh level of hell opens.  Jealous that he can be totally removed from the problem.  That he can simply focus on work to the exclusion of everything else.  And extremely jealous of the fact that he has a wife to take care of these issues as they arise.  (I’ve often asked for a wife for Christmas, my birthday, anniversaries, etc.  Unfortunately, my request has never been granted.)
   Now rationally, I know I shouldn’t envy a man who is 6 feet tall, probably the hairiest individual I’ve ever known, and who has to leave his home, his family, his life for months at a time in order to bring home the bacon---but I just can’t help it.  As far as I’m concerned, when the kitchen window is leaking for the umpteenth time and torrential rains are expected for the next 6 days, I think he’s the luckiest person on the planet!
   In any event, it IS always funny looking back at these dramas, wondering how I ever managed in some of the situations, and really thinking about the life I chose and what’s to come.  I’ve been a vet, a mechanic, a carpenter, electrician, plumber (you should all consider getting your own toilet snake, mine’s a six-footer), fixer of all leaks, and physician.  And I know as the years go on, I’ll become many more things in my life as a mariner’s wife, fairness will never be a part of it, maybe that’s the lesson I need to learn.  Aha!
   So Beady’s Law is a big part of my life now and though it can seem cruel and extremely unfair at times, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  For I’m sure you can understand when I say, that I’d much rather my mariner took that shield of comfort and security with him out to sea each time so he can return safely home to me EVERY time, even if I’ll probably have to hear him say, “But the car was running just fine last time I was home.”                         

           
                                  Copyright 2013 Callie's Mariner

13 comments:

  1. This is funny. In that kind of way that only other wives who REALLY know what you mean can laugh with you.
    We've never met, but my husband was your husbands roomate in college and dare I say a bit hairier :) The next time you get into that jeolousy cycle, you know when your waiting for the furnace repair man at midnight when it's -10 out and you know full well that whatever the issue your husband could fix IF he were home, so ya when you get there think of my idea. There are a very select few of us that can handle this lifestyle. Not becuase we "chose" it or because we "should have known what we were getting into" as your friends might comment, but it's simply because we are ELITE. That's what I tell myself. Yup. It makes me feel good and I go through every one of those other wives that wouldn't last a day in our shoes and magically I feel better. THIS line of work is not cut out for everyone, and I'm not talking about the mariner, I'm talking about the wife. And just then when I'm feeling good and can list off the many many jobs we handle while our men are away, I think.... nuclear power plants, is that all you do? ;)

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  2. Nice to meet you, Tonya! I've heard a lot about your husband over the years ;). Thank you for the idea, I've never quite thought about it that way, as I'm usually too wrapped up in jealousy during whatever crisis is happening. I'm going to try your "method" next time, so thank you! And I LOVE 'nuclear power plants, is that all you do?' I'm going to have to make you a guest writer, you're right up my alley!

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  3. You're last paragraph really struck a cord with me. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the stuff that inevitably goes wrong the minute they walk out the door. But, you're absolutely right; I have more resources here - I'd rather HE had the "shield" with him! Thanks for the perspective!

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    1. I'm glad to hear that, Liz! Thank you. I try really hard to think about it that way because I've heard one too many stories about mariners not coming back, so I'd much rather he take his luck and good fortune back to sea with him. Thanks for commenting, too. :)

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  4. My mariner and I have been married 27 years. I don't think he's gone to work one time when there hasn't been a crisis. It's inevitable! The kids and I place bets how long it's going to take for something to break when he walks out the door. Only other mariner wives can relate.

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    1. HisMermaid, one time I forgot Beady left because I'd dropped him off that morning at the airport, went to work and the day was just crazy! As I was driving home, the engine started making a really strange noise, I think I stopped at my in laws on the way home and had my father in law look at it. I kept thinking why is this happening, it's been running so well. Then I remembered Beady had just left that morning and it all made sense!

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  5. OMG, you nailed it! I love being everything and then nothing when he gets home, it is really nice handing the reigns over to the wagon and letting him drive a while. It's so true something always happens, like my 3 year old washer just up and died, and I tried to fix it and it was just impossible, but I tried, I was responible, and then had the great delight in buying a new one I really love! Or then there has been the stitches in my son's eyebrow It was a true testing ground for my parenting alone. It is hard and easy all in one, and it just is how it works and unless you are a Mariner's wife you don't get it at all. I am so glad I found your blog!!!!

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    1. Kelly, you sound like you've really got your act together! Your husband is lucky to have you :) I'm so glad you found the site and thanks for commenting!

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  6. im just a mariners girlfriend right now but we live together so i have to hold the household down when my boyfriend is gone. i just found your blog and ive only read through it quickly but it is spot on. ive been having a hard time lately and its nice to read that other people feel the same way i do.

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    1. Keep reading and keep coming back. We're all here to support you, just hang in there!

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  7. My mariner and I just got married, and a month later, he was back on the ship. Right before he left, he built a new work bench in the garage of our rental house. Well, a couple weeks after he left, I noticed one of my tires was looking a little low. We just moved down to the panhandle of Florida for my job less than a year ago, and still don't know anyone down here, so I had the fun experience of trying to find a good garage to take my car in order to figure out what was wrong with the tire. Luckily we're in the south (southern hospitality is alive and well), and the good old boys at the tire place down the street pulled out a screw that didn't make it in my husband's new workbench. I'm very familiar with this law.

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  8. This is so true. I'm a wife of Merchant Mariner in the Gulf of Mexico. When he is home, everything is smooooooooth. While in port, smooooooth. Goes offshore and the wireless modem crashes, or the cable box breaks, check engine light comes on and yes, the lightbulbs in the ceiling go out when he is offshore. Not when he leaves, when he goes offshore out of internet/phone connection. You just have to put on your big girl panties and deal. Glad I found this blog!!

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