Controlled Environment Essay, Research Paper
What controlled environment did you spend time in? How long?
When I graduated from High School I entered into the Merchant Marine Academy at Fort Schuyler in New York. From then until I was in my mid thirties I was involved with ocean liners, tankers and ships. For periods of one year at a time I would be on a ship traveling the world, making shipments and patrolling the seas. The controlled environment was both on the ship and in the academy. Once on the ship I had to obey the rules and morals taught to us in the academy.
Was there an effort to separate you from your former identity?
No not really. Contrary to the NAVY, ARMY or Marines our boot camp was less severe and did not include such physical conditioning. Our personalities were not changed because we were not in combat and did not have to learn to be a killing machine.
What were the most important rules you had to follow?
Besides not falling in the water, we had to obey almost everything our captain told us. Our captain was like our parents his wishes were our commands. The captain set the standards and the rules for us to follow.
What were the least and less important rules you had to follow?
There was a uniform but it was not very important that we followed it. As an officer we had to look respectable but usually the uniform requirements were not met. We also had a curfew but that was rarely followed and it was rare for a person to get into any trouble for breaking curfew.
What were some of the “make-do’s” the inmates made up for their deprivations with?
Since there was no T.V. almost every night after dinner we held chess and checkers tournament. The games were fast paced and mostly just for fun, no money was ever wagered. We also drank a lot of beer when we were at sea for extended amounts of time.
Which were accepted by the authorities and which were not?
Well the chess tournaments everyone enjoyed and were accepted by all, officers, Plebes and Captains. However drinking and other drug use was prohibited. Being caught with illegal drugs meant immediate dismissal from the corps. Being caught with alcohol meant some kind of military punishment(I never got caught).
How did the inmates respond to their situation?
Almost everyone on the ship enjoyed their work and being away from home. However after long periods, occasionally fights would arise and officers would end up with a black eye or broken nose. But on a whole it was usually pretty peaceful and an enjoyable environment.
Do you consider your experience in the controlled environment beneficial?
Absolutely, it taught me discipline and how to treat others. My experience also taught me to value what I have at home and didn’t have when at sea.
Do you miss the environment?
When my kids are bothering me I miss the solitude of the open ocean. However, at the same time I have also had my fill of that lifestyle.
Would you do it again?
In a heartbeat.
The person whom I interviewed is a very close family friend who entered in to the Merchant Marine Academy at the age of 18. I also interviewed another friend who was in the army and fought in Vietnam. Many of his answers coincided with those of Owen(from the merchant marines). Mike’s experiences in the ARMY were a little more structured than Owen’s. But Mike’s experience was not as enjoyable or beneficial. The benefits received from the ARMY were discipline and respect. As a sailor Owen also benefitted by seeing the world and experiencing many cultures while being in a controlled environment. Mike portrayed the ARMY to be a very structured environment, where everything that a soldier did was monitored and taken into account. The rules he had to follow were very distinct and if broken meant physical punishments (push-ups etc.). The ARMY’s rules based around the constitution and defending our Nation. The Merchant Marine rules based around the safety of their officers and the good being transported. Finally, contrary to Owen’s experiences Mike’s, made an effort to separate him from his identity. Mike was reshaped from an average man to a killing machine. Through these interviews I learned, how controlled environments can both benefit and change a person for the better. I also learned that a controlled environment is very hard to adapt to and not something I would like to be subject to.