7 types of sailors you meet in the chow line

Chow time is the best part of a sailor’s day. It’s the heart of their social life and where he or she learns about shipmates.

In theory, this is the time to relax with friends, joke, laugh, and talk to people from other divisions who you don’t normally see. But life on the ship is busy, and chow can often be a rushed undertaking.

Chow lines seem to be longest when time is tightest. The lines are notorious for wrapping through workspaces, berthings, and even multiple levels. This is where the expression, “hurry up and wait” was conceived.

And there’s nothing a sailor can do but wait. This is where the real conversation with your buddies takes place. This also the place to people watch, and after much observation, here are the seven personalities that stand out:

1. The sailor who can’t wait to rank up so they don’t have to wait in another long chow line.

navy chowline midshipmen

Midshipmen at the front of the chow line. (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Alex Van’tLeven/US Navy)

The chow line will never go away, but chiefs and officers get to wait in shorter lines.

2. Mr. Chipper

navy chow line galley line

Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brien Aho/US Navy

His happiness is annoying. It seems like some sailors have a special stash of sunshine and rainbows. (Check in with him five months into the deployment, and see just how chipper he still is.)

3. The foodie

The rule on ships is that you don’t take food from the galley, but Mr. Snax and Mr.Buff always ignore it. Snax is rounder than most and Buff spends his free time in the gym. Snax eats for fun and Buff eats to make gains.

4. The grease monkey

greasy hands working hands

Photo: Benjamin Lehman/Flickr

It’s easy to identify sailors with dirty jobs (machinists, maintenance personnel, and flight deck workers) by their greasy hands and dirty uniforms.

5. The snipe

Ship engineers work in the deep levels of the ship and rarely come up. Engineers work six hours on and six hours off and often lose their sense of time. To put this into context, a normal working schedule is either days or nights for 12 hours (12 on, 12 off), which allows for a regular sleeping pattern. Engineers have two days in a 24-hour period.

6. The newb

box lunch

Photo: Dollar Photo Club

It’s easy to identify the new guy on a ship or shop. Just look for the sailor carrying all the boxed lunches for his entire shop.

7. The burglar

This sailor didn’t wait in chow line, he or she waited for an unsuspecting shipmate to set their food down – usually to grab a drink – to snatch their food tray.