Nursing a broken leg this past week, and I’ve used the time (and medication) to immerse myself in the deep and swampy waters of Star Trek lore. I found out that the drugs I’m currently taking are not strong enough to make me enjoy “Enterprise” all that much.
I ran across a non-canon but entirely plausible full crew manifest for the original Enterprise, providing job titles for all 72 officers and 428 enlisted crew. Most disturbingly, this manifest posits the existence of a heretofore unacknowledged senior officer: the Chief Services Officer.
Overseeing six junior officers, seven petty officers, and 47 crewmen, the CSO is in charge of the supply/quartermaster, commissary, and sanitation operations. You know, I never thought about it, but someone has to do it, right?
So remember all the ridiculous bullcrap Wesley Crusher had to go through to get into the Academy? Face your greatest fear, respond to weird alien trivia, be the son of a slain officer and the former chief of Starfleet Medical, get a recommendation from the Captain of the flagship of the entire fleet, and actually pilot the damn thing for several years instead of going to high school? Some guy did all that, and when he graduated four years later, Ensign Rusty became the Junior Janitorial Operations Officer on the Enterprise’s five-year mission.
He paid his dues, dammit. He climbed the ranks from LTJG (Senior Janitorial Operation Officer) to LT (Commissary Officer, Alpha Shift) and finally LTCOM (Chief Services Officer). He stayed with the Enterprise during its time as a Starfleet Academy training vessel, imparting wisdom to a new generation of Starfleet sanitation officers. His office was in the 23rd century equivalent of the boiler room. After Spock died, he came by with a spray bottle and got those fingerprints off the radiation chamber. He traveled back to the 80s and stayed on the ship, and eventually used an enormous net to clean up the whale tanks.
We, the viewers, must assume that all of this took place just slightly off-screen. He was at those senior staff meetings, if the camera had just moved a little to the left. During the commercial breaks, he would use some sort of futuristic space-mop. He and his team beamed down to new worlds and mopped up the Gorn blood or whatever leaks out of a Vorta or whatever leaks out of Scotty.
Ever since I realized that Lieutenant Commander Rusty is an implied part of the Star Trek universe — and indeed must have a counterpart on every ship plus Deep Space Nine — he has haunted me. Should we assume that in the divergent timeline created in the most recent movie, Fate has still found away to put Ensign Rusty back on the ship, so that the whole cycle can play out again? I think so. If the cosmos conspires to give us the heroes we need, then it must also make room for those the anonymous men and women who do their jobs without complaint or attention or glory.