2016, astronauts, counseling, crew morale, ESEP, ESS Queen Elizabeth II, Mars, Mars Mission 2016, psychology, science, space, spacecraft
- Mars Date/Time: Year 1, Sur One, Friday, Sol 34 (1.1.34) 9:51 PM NST
- Earth Date/Time: Sunday, 7 February 2016 2:00 AM PST
The wine and the late hour was starting to wear on both Wade and Stevens. They had gathered at 5:00 PM for the Admiral’s Mess with the rest of the Command team. It was now five hours and later and they were still dealing with ship business.
It was Counselor Stevens job to constantly assess the crew and tonight was her first chance to speak privately to Rear Admiral Jenna Wade since she came on the ship. Wade shifted in her chair and leaned forward to pick up the wine bottle and pour more wine in Stevens’ glass, then she finished off the rest of the wine in her glass. Wade said, “You’ve read my file, you been on board for a week, what’s your opinion?”
Stevens was being backed into a corner, but she expected nothing less from Wade. Normally she would turn this around and tell the crew member that she needed to ask the questions, but Wade was not a normal crew member…or normal human.
Steven’s began, “You are one of the most interesting persons I’ve ever encountered. Your father was an engineer and your mother was a psychologist. Both had advanced degrees and you were a late, only child. You honored both your father and your mother by double majoring in engineering and psychology and you did it in five years. You then got your masters degree in social psychology with a thesis that involved the social dynamics of sailors on a Royal Navy ship.”
Stevens stood up, took a sip of wine, stretched, and then continued, “And then things become interesting. Whether it was because of your thesis or because your grandfather was an officer in the Royal Navy, you joined and attended officer training at Dartmouth. Upon completion you served ten years in the Royal Navy, the last five on the HMS Illustrious. As I said before, you were probably in line for a prestigious post on the newest British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth II, but you left the Royal Navy in 2010 to join the ESEP.” Stevens paused again and sat down.
Wade sat in silence. She knew Stevens would have looked at her record, but she was surprised at the detail that Stevens could recall. Stevens either had an amazing memory or she was very intrigued by her history.
Stevens resumed, “I couldn’t find an unenthusiastic review of your work in your file. Everywhere you’ve been your superiors gush over your skills of managing people, logistics, and just getting things done. It seems like the harder the task, the more you dive in and find the answers.”
Wade said, “You certainly know my history. I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone my grandfather was an officer in the Royal Navy.”
Stevens replied, “It’s my job to find out more than what’s in the file; however, I’m missing part of the picture.” Wade knew what Stevens was probably talking about, but decided to play dumb. She inquired, “What part?”
When you were vetted they only found one significant relationship and that was for two years and you ended it with her shortly before you joined ESEP. My experience has been that work is often a substitute for harder things like relationships and that usually is a personality time bomb. Care to fill me in?”
Wade knew that any good psychologist would see the obvious lack of a personal life and be concerned. She had self-assessed her lack of relationships and it was the part of her life that she found uncomfortable.
Still, she confronted challenges and she knew it would be better to be open with the Counselor than to let her guess. Wade looked down at her glass and then looked at Stevens and began,
When I was in Secondary school I fell in love with a young man who I believed was my perfect match. We were together for over a year and I was sure we would get married after graduation. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the same plan and we broke up. My mother helped me work through the loss, but it changed our relationship. From then on she questioned me incessantly about any potential relationship and it became easier to simply avoid them. College gave me a chance to focus on my education and career goals and I didn’t have time to become romantically involved.” Wade took her last sip of wine.
After a moment Wade began again, “The Royal Navy was virtually the same as school. No time to become romantically involved and there were the of issues with rank and sex. I did have one night stands, but never with a sailor or officer. I also discovered that I enjoyed being with a woman as much as a man.
While I was still in the Royal Navy I had met someone in Portsmouth and we kept in touch. At some point we started becoming serious and we moved in together. It was fine as long as I had time away, but it became tedious the more time I spent at home. I eventually decided to make some changes in my life and leaving her and the Royal Navy were those changes.”
Stevens sat in silence for a moment then suddenly said, “OK,” and stood up. She continued, “Another psychologist would have a field day with this, but I just want you to be aware that we should talk about any romantic feelings you develop on this mission for a crew member. You know from your naval experience the complications of romantic relationships; however, ESEP’s position is that crew romances are okay as long as they are consensual, open, and don’t distract from the duties and mission.
My concern is that if and when you begin having romantic feelings that you might need help on how you construct a new personal life within the confines of this monster of a task you have taken on. You are an extraordinary person who has done extraordinary things and will continue to do amazing things. I will be there if things get out of your comfort zone and I don’t expect you’re going to give me much work unless you catch a love bug. Fair enough?”
Wade smiled and stood up. “Fair enough.” Stevens then said, “Get some sleep, tomorrow is another long Mars day.” With that Stevens turned and walked toward the door. Wade followed her, told her thanks and good night and closed the door.
Wade was impressed. She had not expected Stevens to validate her life path and put her lack of relationships as a cautionary concern, rather than a psychological red flag. She began to realize why the Nick Castillo, the ESEP Director, recommended her as ship’s Counselor. She collected the wine glasses and the empty bottle then stopped.
“Damn, she’s good,” Wade quietly said to herself.