Into this world, Colin Stewart was born. Colin lived on the western coast of North America and he could be found, when he wasn’t in school, at one of the many docks looking out at the various ships on the ocean. He pictured himself on one of those ships, sailing all over the world.
When a child reached the age of 14 they could, with parental approval, join one of the services. Upon reaching the age of 14, Colin joined the Navy as a Ship Boy. A Ship Boy would be assigned to a ship where he would learn about the operation of the ship but also continue his studies. Every ship was equipped with a library that connected to a school, on line education from the 20th century was used as a pilot for the current development of on line academic courses. Therefore, it was possible for a Ship Boy to continue his education.
The Ship Boy uniform included special shoes, blue pants and a white buttonless shirt with Ship Boy printed on the shirt in blue. Colin’s first assignment was working in the kitchen. There were a total of 4 Ship Boys working there as chef’s helpers. Colin worked the breakfast and dinner tours, he had class the rest of the time.
At the end of his first day, Colin was tired but happy. He slept in a hammock along with the other boys. He had foot locker which fitted on the floor under his hammock. The motion of the ship lulled him to sleep.
Every 4 months, assignments were rotated, the boys worked 4 hours per day allowing time for classes. New boys from all over the world would start as the older boys moved on to other ships or up the ladder in the current ship. Colin’s second assignment was laundry. Here he worked the schedule 4 hours and then class, this he did for 4 months. His next 4 month assignment was housekeeping which meant cleaning the toilets as well as other common areas. Again this was a 4 hour assignment for 4 months, allowing plenty of time for school.On line schooling allowed students to progress at their own rate. This suited Colin fine and soon he was at the equivalent of a sophomore in a conventional high school. His goal was to complete his high school exams in 2 years. He would then be able to enroll in the university program.
As far as Colin was concerned, he was on target. Some of the jobs he didn’t like but being positive, he knew that he was learning about the ship as he was doing these assigned chores.
At the end of 3 assignments, Colin was up for evaluation. One of the senior officers would sit down with Colin and review his schooling and his evaluations from the various assignments. This first evaluation was critical, from this point on, if Colin passed, he would have assignments involved in the operation of the ship.
2nd Lieutenant Benton was assigned to perform Colin’s evaluation. As he was preparing for the evaluation, he noticed that 15 year old Colin was excelling in school. That rate would probably have him finishing secondary schooling in two years. He decided he wanted to meet this young man and try to determine his motivation. Colin was informed that his evaluation would be 3 days from today at 3 pm. He was given the room number of Lieutenant Benton where the evaluation would take place.
Colin was nervous, suppose it was a bad evaluation, would he be transferred to another ship or sent home. The last thing Colin wanted was to be sent home. He liked the ship he was on and the people who he worked with.
At last the day and hour came, Colin made his way to the Lieutenant’s room for his evaluation. Approaching the cabin door, Colin was nervous as he knocked on the door. He heard ‘enter’ took a gulp of air and opened the door.
Lieutenant recognized Colin as the boy who spent a lot of time in the ship’s library. He indicated for Colin to sit down, “I have reviewed your academic progress. I was quite surprised to see what you have completed the primary division. Will you tell me why you pushed yourself to do the equivalent of two years when mostboys would be satisfied with one year?”
“Sir, I set goals for myself and I wanted to complete the primary division in 2 years rather than four. I have the time to study, on- line learning helps a lot since I can progress at my pace.”
“You have been assigned three jobs, which one did you like the least?”
“There was something to learn from all of my assignments, but if I had to choose, I would say housekeeping where I learned the ships layout.”
“Are you aware what you next assignments will be?”
“My immediate next assignment is the infirmary. I don’t know what my assignment will be after that.”
“I am impressed by your education achievements and the assessments made by your supervisors of the task’s assigned. Keep up the good work.”
Colin rose from his seat, “Thank you sir” Colin saluted and left. He headed for the infirmary, his next 4 month assignment. Colin’s next two assignments would involved engineering and the radio room.
Colin noticed that Lieutenant Benton was in the library quite often. He hadn’t noticed that before his evaluation. He was curious but he had his schooling to keep him busy.
During the 4 months in the infirmary, Colin learned how to monitor patients. He now was able to check blood pressure and take heart beat counts, taking temperatures was no brain job. He watched the doctor and nurse provide first aid, minor operations and in one case where a sailor accidentally cut himself, he watch the doctor sew up the cut. Colin read medical books, he asked questions and was encouraged to watch and learn. The four months in the infirmary flew by and soon he was in engineering.
Watching the many gauges and learning their function was right up Colin’s alley. He was fascinated by the array of gauges, as well as what each gauge represented. By the end of his 4 months, he’d know what each gauge measured, where the sensors were located and the meaning of each reading.
Colin was a fast learner and nowhere did this exhibit itself but in the radio room. He was assigned to a senior radio operator who would teach him everything about the radio mechanics as well as protocols. If he was into something and his 4 hours were up, he’d stay until it was finish. The Chief gave Colin a radio that wasn’t working. His assignment was to find out why it wasn’t working and how to fix it. Colin noted the model number and the manufacture. The next few hours in the library, Colin did a search for the radio, finding the manufacture he noted the schematic sketch. Now he would compare that sketch to the actual radio.
Over the next two days, Colin had the radio apart and determine where the problem was located and how to fix it. For this he took the faulty part to engineering and got one of the guys to help him construct a replacement part. The original part was made of carbon and had cracked. Colin asked if another metal could be used instead of carbon. The engineer suggested copper but said that Colin would need to construct the copper piece so that it didn’t overload the capacitor.Colin took the piece of copper and went back to the library. Back on the computer, he researched the use of copper as a conductor. Once he understood that, he knew that if he constructed a smaller piece it would carry less electricity and not burn out quickly. In reality, all Colin had to do was explain why the radio didn’t work and show how to fix it. But Colin being Colin, took it a step further and fixed it so it would work at least for a limited time.
When he took the radio back to the radio room everyone thought he gave up on it since he was back in only three days. He handed it to the Chief, “Try it”
The Chief took the radio and give it to one of the other operators and told him to hook it up and test it. The operator took the radio to a test bench, plugged it in, “Sir, the radio is working.”
Everyone stopped and looked at Colin. “Would you explain what was wrong with the radio and what you did to fix it.”
“Yes, sir, there was a part, a carbon rod, that was cracked. I made a connection with a piece ofcopper wire. The repair is only temporary until a new carbon rod can be obtained.”
Everyone looked at him, then one of them started to clap. Colin blushed but there was a smile on his face. The chief excused him for the day. Colin went to the library and continued his lessons. Lieutenant Benton saw Colin and knew that he should be in the radio room. “Colin”
“Aren’t you suppose to be in the radio room?”
“Yes, sir, the chief told me to leave.”
The Lieutenant went to the radio room to determine why the chief told Colin to leave. Upon entering the radio room, Benton saw a group of the operators around one of the radios that didn’t work. “Chief, what’s happening? I saw Colin in the library and said you told him to leave. Isn’t that one of the radios that doesn’t work anymore?”
“Yes, sir, I gave it to that boy Colin and told him to find out was wrong and how he would fix it. Every boy who has come in here, I gave that radio to them to determine what the problem was. Colin brought it back today and it works. He found out what was wrong and he jury rigged a solution and told me what I needed to order to get it back in service. Lieutenant, I’d be glad to have that young man assigned to the radio room full time.”
The lieutenant shook his head and left the radio room and headed for the Captain on the Bridge. “Captain sir, one of the boys is showing an unusual behavior, it’s all good sir. Every one of his supervisors would like him assigned to their department on a full time basis. Sir, I would like him assigned to me as my Cabin Boy. I think we may have found a winner in this boy.”
“Send me his reports. Make his next assignment the Bridge.”