There was a time when I was a third mate and I was on a ship with a Chief Mate who hated me. Not only did he hate me but he was a total dick. Like awful, awful, awful.
It's a time in my career that makes me cringe because I absolutely can not imagine letting someone talk to me like that.
At the time I used to tell myself 'just smile'. I thought that if I kept a smile on my face everyone would see him for the asshole he was and I'd come out the other side looking like the bigger more professional person.
I would say the Ani DiFranco lyric 'smile pretty and watch your back' over and over and over in my head.
It worked. He sunk his own boat and went down in a ball of flames.
Two days ago I was talking to an old timey sailor. I was venting about work. Venting about shipmates. Venting about how much more I can handle.
He said, 'you know I always hate stuff like this but I've always told myself: I'm one day tougher than this motherfucker'.
You know when you hear something and think, 'I needed to hear this ten years ago?!'. Or you think, 'yes! This sums up my career!'.
I'M ONE DAY TOUGHER THAN THIS MOTHERFUCKER.
It's not just a person. It's a ship. It's a project. It's an exam. It's also a person.
It really comes down to a day.
Every sailor knows the power of 'sign off day'. Like the prison quote: there's two days - the day you get in and the day you get out.
I've proved myself to be one day tougher over and over and over again. It's something I know I can do. I can beat someone out by a day. I can survive a tough job for one more day.
One day seems so minuscule. But really, that's all it comes down to.
One day tougher.