More about Janet

Many years ago, I was talking to someone about why I love Janet so much. Listing attributes.

One of her many attributes that I valued greatly, I said was, “That, she knew her place.”

The person I was talking to, immediately bristled, thinking that that was a bad thing to say. So, I had to explain that, it can cut both ways. In this case I meant that she knew that she was very competent at many diverse things. And she was certainly right about that.

Remember that Janet and I come from an age when women were nearly always conspired against and put down. And, I think they still are far too often. Just as skin color and religion are still a problem if you happen to have the wrong kind. But, I certainly believe that we have come a long way.

For me, one of many things about Janet that I admired was that she enjoyed and did many nontraditional jobs, but if she chose to, she could easily do the traditional jobs as well.

She was captain of Alegria from 1981 until her death.

Several, non-sexually liberated, people thought we were joking, but there used to be a place on the United States Coast Guard documentation form, where you listed the name of the captain of the vessel. And her name was there, until they changed the form and left that part off. Hopefully not because they noticed a woman was putting her name on the form.

She really enjoyed working on big ships. But, she only did it for a few years, because once she got enough money, we went off sailing again.

They started out hiring her as a Messman. Which is a glorified maid. As she explained it, at meal times she served meals, and in between she cleaned toilets. I think she was aware of the shock value of the phrasing. At the marina in Baltimore, she worked for quite some time keeping the men’s and women’s toilets and showers very clean. Let me tell you that was much appreciated by everybody in the marina.

Fortunately, the ships that she worked on were NOAA ships, and their union was not very restrictive. She was able to get overtime jobs in every department. As a result of that she quickly discovered that her favorite job, was working in the engine room. She was an outstanding student and studied hard and quickly passed every endorsement, that you could get without going to a special maritime college. She really loved working in the engine room and all that it entailed.

This was back in 1980 and 81. Things were still pretty primitive then. Her boss, the chief engineer, made no apology for thinking that women had no place on a ship. It should be men only.

But, he had Janet and another woman, who had been a nurse before changing to ships, working for him. They both quit at the same time, and he told Janet and perhaps several other people, that, even though he still felt ship should be all men, that these two women, were so exceptional, that if the former nurse ever applied to him for a job again, that the instant any position that she could handle became available, that he would hire her. Absolutely no doubt about it.

And he said that if Janet ever applied to work under him again, that he would fire somebody in order to be able to hire her on the spot.

High praise indeed!

However, even as I was saying that Janet knew her place, I was thinking that that was not strictly true. I believe that there were many areas where she was vastly better than she believed in her heart. I think that she should of had much more self-confidence about many things. And I always did my best to try to help her with that.

But, it is pretty obvious that none of us are perfect. The best we can hope is to do the best we can. And she did a heckuva job. I’m incredibly lucky to have known her for as long as I did.

Dave

PS
I saw the following on a plaque on the wall of the treasurer of the company I was working for, in the mid-1960s. Quite early in the dawn of women’s Lib, at least in America.

In order for a woman in the workplace,
to be treated as an equal to a man,
she must do twice as much work,
twice as well, in half the time, as a man.

Fortunately this is not difficult.

You may, correctly, guess that the treasurer was a woman and she was also a full partner in the company. And sharp as a tack.

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3 thoughts on “More about Janet

  1. Yes indeed. My daughter once had a sign on her door that read: Man who says it cannot be done should get out of the way of woman who is doing it. I still frequently find myself needing to get out of the way of my shipmate who is doing it. Also being from the old school it sometimes takes me longer than it should. A humbling experience it is.

  2. I’ve always thought of that woman with the plaque as my dad’s business partner; I seem to remember when that happened. The plaque was one of my early memories, one of my strongest and I’ve taken delight in quoting it for half a century. Today, we’ve come some ways; I might say that whatever we do today, we must do one-and-a-half times as much work to be thought three-quarters as well as, to do it in only 80% of the time, for 70% of the pay. Great to grow up with her example, my mother’s, and my father’s – he understood the value of recognizing & rewarding competence to making a company successful.

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