Sunday, December 6, 2015


At one time I possessed 4, or more, different, and current pieces of United States Government issued identification cards/documents. Foolishly, I used to carry them all with me, sometimes using one, or more, of the documents to bluff my way past security in order to gain entrance to places I should not have been, or obtain some extra assistance when necessary. I always found that, for the most part, the old adage “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with bullshit”, worked well for me. 

At the time of this story I was carrying a valid US Passport, which identified me as a tourist. I also had a black Dept. of Defense identification card, which identified me as a civilian crew member aboard an American military vessel.

In addition to that I always carried my pink Armed Forces Reserve Identification Card, which stated that I was on Inactive Duty with the United States Navy.

And, as if this wasn't quite enough, I also presented my United States Coast Guard "Z" Card, which made me a Merchant Marine serving as an Able Bodied Seaman.

I also had with me my newly issued United States Coast Guard Third Mate's License, a document which identified me as an Officer and allowed me to operate vessels of any size in any waters. To be blunt, I was a walking enigma.

Now no plan; however well-conceived; works indefinitely, there must come a time when something, or someone,  comes along to block your path. Both of these forces came to play one night in Rota, Spain; across the bay from Cadiz; when I tried to enter the Naval Base. 

Dressed; as I was; in civilian clothes, with long hair to boot, I did not look like I belonged on any military base anywhere. Accordingly, the guard, who only spoke Spanish, motioned for me to produce my Identification. So, I decided to just overwhelm him with all of these official documents. 

Well, I did, and it worked. As a matter of fact, he was so overwhelmed that I was immediately arrested on suspicion of espionage due to the conflicting nature of the documents I was carrying. It was hard for the authorities on duty at the time to grasp that I was a civilian, who was also in the United States Navy Reserve, working for the Department of Defense as a Merchant Marine; as both a Seaman and an Officer; while in possession of a passport that said I was a tourist who had not even bothered to have it validated when I entered their country; begging the question of how I got there and just who the hell I really was.

It was hours later; when the whole thing got sorted out; that I remember being back aboard ship in my stateroom thinking, "Man, I really showed them..."

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