Earlier in the week Popeye and I had a breakdown in communication. Problem: Timezones! With the exception of bootcamp, Popeye and I have always talked every night. It did not matter how relevant the conversation was, just that it took place. With 4 months of separation that talk time is incredibly important now. It’s one of the key ways we still have to feel connected to each other. Unfortunately, that timezone change of two hours putts a damper on it. This is how the breakdown went:
I, Ollie, work from 0700-1500. I work a job that tends to have a lot of manual labor attached and for one reason or another my work always seems to be running short of people. To be up onetime with adequate sleep bedtime falls around 20-2100.
Popeye has military classes from 0700 (0500 if he has to PT) until 1600 (plus watch or PT or study hours or what ever else they decide he needs to do). Chow is served sometime around 1730 (or perhaps that is just when Popeye gets hungry). Then there is more studying, watch doing, cleaning, ironing and shoe shining.
Our schedules match pretty well until timezones are added in. A two hour timezone switch is enough to throw the whole thing off kilter. I’m taking my first break of the day as Pop is getting ready to muster for the first time in the morning. I’m done with work in the middle of his afternoon classes. Pop’s dinner comes at 1900 for me. Add in study time, and friend sanity time and we are all out of time!
After a week of timezone glitches in which studying, shoe shining, ironing, classes, work, dinner, etc. got in the way of a 10-20 minute conversation, I was defiantly feeling the frustration. The last straw of the weekend had come with a duty run dinner break to Chipotle at the bus’ 18.52 stop schedule. Popeye needed food. I needed sleep (badly). I had been staying up every night trying to gain some uninterrupted talk time and had only been averaging 4-5 hours of sleep a night. My and Popeye’s expectations for that night were similar but vastly different.
I expected that Popeye’s on call duty night would be free from his shipmates and we could have quality time on the phone or computer (ALONE!) before I had to go to bed. His expectation was that it was the weekend and he would stay up talking to me. Needless to say neither expectation was met and we both felt slighted.
The next day Popeye called me and sent me messages. A few of the calls came during work. A few calls came later in the day. Messages asking “What you doing?” followed. I answered curtly- “working”, “Cleaning”, “Going to bed. Good night.” For the second night in a row our communication sucked.
After two nights of broken communication Popeye and I talked. We REALY talked. Pop and I came to an understanding and even a compromise. We had things in our daily lives that needed to get done (work, school, laundry)in the zones that we currently were in, but we needed to pay attention to each other too. So, we set aside a “date” night in which we Popeye and I could just sit and talk uninterrupted like we were used to doing. The rest of the week we would still check in with each other. We would still remind each other of how much we loved and missed the other. We would keep each other in the loop. When the interruptions happen, and trust me they DO happen, it would be okay. We would still have our scheduled together time. And while our communication is back on track… we still struggle a bit; Not because we aren’t communicating…. it’s because of terrible timezones.