November 10, 2003

My roommate and I were watching the Star Trek: the Next Generation episode 'Genesis'. There was this one moment near the beginning of the episode when Worf, whose newly-redesigned torpedo guidance system had inexplicably gone awry, was working at one of the back consoles on the Bridge. Clearly things weren't going well. Computer troubles are the same in any century. He bashed the console with his fist and made a noise of irritation. That's it - just one little bang and a sort of muttered grunt. Riker's face appeared under the rail and his expression was one of absolute horror and disbelief. He jumped up from his seat and raced up the ramp to see what was wrong. Sort of reminded me of that line in 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' - "when out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter / away to the window I raced like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash". I digress. It was just an absurd reaction, I thought. Holy overacting, Batman. Until I realized that you never hear exclamations of frustration on the Enterprise. Here are people so disciplined that when things go wrong (ie. every single show), they draw a slow measured breath and quietly ponder the next best move. The most heated things get is when Picard stands and tugs on the hem of his uniform shirt. The infamous 'Picard Manouvre'. Then you know it's serious. That's it. So Worf banging the console and muttering under his breath was probably the equivalent of postal workers locking themselves in a belltower with a semi-automatic and airing their frustrations one bullet at a time. No wonder Riker looked thunderstruck.

Then there was the episode (the terrible and nausea-inducing episode) 'Rightful Heir'. Klingon episode. Kehless comes back from Stoval Kor or whatever-the-fuck they call the afterlife. Prior to that, however, Worf was having some sort of spiritual crisis that involved him meditating beside a fire pit in his quarters. The problem was that the meditation-trance-fire thing appeared to have gone on for some time and he was consequently late for his shift. Let's take the Riker perspective. Riker arrives on the Bridge to relieve Data of night watch. They chat about space anomalies and what-have-you for all of four minutes. Then Riker says "Hey, isn't Worf on tactical this watch?" and Data goes "As far as I know" to which Riker replies "He's never late. Something's wrong" and he follows this totally logical statement up with a call to security to meet him outside of Worf's quarters. He then overrides the door security and barges in. Keep in mind, maybe six minutes have passed since shift change at this point. He finds Worf all doped out by his fire. Cue Picard's stern dressing-down of Worf. Such tardiness is unacceptable and inexcusable. How can you explain this? What kind of officer engages in such horrendous dereliction of duty? Keep your personal life out of my Bridge time, etc, etc. Then he sends Worf on vacation to work out his spiritual crisis. WHAT? Back up the crazy train a second. First off, four minutes late isn't an obvious cue that something is wrong. Four minutes barely registers on the clock, for crying out loud. It certainly doesn't warrant a whole security detachment and the bashing in of doors. Second, and most important, I'm late probably every day of my life for everything from work to my own surprise party and I NEVER get sent on vacation as a result. Permanent vacation is more like it. So Picard is so pissed at the four lost minutes and at the fire raging in Worf's quarters that he gives him paid leave?

It was about the time of that realization that I had my epiphany. I would never be able to work in Starfleet. To my great dismay I realized that I'm not the strong silent type. I'm more the 'throw the phone and curse' type. I'm also not the 'so prompt they set clocks by me' type. I'm more... LATE. I'd have permanent quarters in the brig. Or possibly face a court martial. Either way, not the cleanest route to the top of the career ladder.

Of course I don't look good in 'science' either. If I got posted to a science division I'd have to transfer to command or medical on the basis of mustard incompatibility. Which is a whole separate issue.

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