Friday, January 30, 2015

Humor in Uniform - JIGGERY-POKERY IN THE OFFICERS MESS - THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH

JIGGERY-POKERY IN THE OFFICERS MESS
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH 
A Spoof
By 
VIKRAM KARVE



JIGGERY-POKERY IN THE OFFICERS MESS

THE GRAVY AND THE MEAT

There is a hilarious song in the classic 1950s Comedy Movie “At War With The Army” starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis with the lyrics “The Navy Gets the Gravy and The Army Gets the Beans” sung by Jerry Lewis.

In the anecdote I am going to narrate the “navy” was indeed getting the “gravy” while a freeloader was getting the “beans” (meat).

It was in the latter half of the year 1980, I think, that I was doing the “bum job” of Wardroom Mess Secretary in a shore training establishment.

As I have told you earlier, in the Navy you have got to be the Jack of all Trades but the Master of One.

We were served mutton twice a week and I noticed that the mutton curry was full of bones and there was hardly any meat.

The other in-living officers had also been complaining about the lack of meat pieces in the “bony curry”.

This was surprising since we bought quite a generous quantity of mutton and as per my calculations each officer should have got a portion of at least 200 grams of mutton which is quite a sizeable quantity (200 grams of meat are about 5-6 chunks of mutton)

On inquiry the steward told me that the PMC was taking three kilograms of mutton on payment every week from the Wardroom.

“But surely you include this amount when you purchase mutton, don’t you?” I asked.

“Yes, Sir,” the steward said, “but he wants Boneless Mutton. He has told me to remove the bones and only then weigh the mutton. But he is to be charged for only three kilograms at the market rate. Sir, the weight of the bones is roughly half the total weight and that is why you in-living officers eating in the mess get more bones in the curry.”

“Oh,” I said, understanding his game, “call me the next time you buy mutton.”

On D-Day I asked him weigh 6 kilograms of mutton.

Then I asked him to remove the bones and weigh the boneless mutton.

As I estimated the boneless mutton weighed roughly 3 kilograms.

“Send the 3 Kilograms of the boneless mutton to his house. Charge him for 6 Kilograms of mutton. And yes  remember to keep the 3 kilograms of bones carefully in the freezer. In case he complains  you just tell him what I did – and give him his 3 kilograms of bones,” I said.

We did this for three weeks.

As I expected, at the end of the month, when the mess bills were distributed, the PMC came rushing to the wardroom mess office complaining that he had been overcharged.

I explained to him what we had done: “Sir, you wanted only boneless mutton. So we got 6 Kilograms of mutton for you and removed the bones which yielded 3 Kilograms of the boneless mutton which was sent to your house. We have kept your 3 Kilograms of bones carefully in the freezer in case you want them.

Then, I gestured to the chief steward.

The Chief Steward went to the freezer and got the packet of carefully preserved bones.

The PMC was promptly offered the sizeable amount of carefully preserved bones – which were rightfully his, since he had paid for them.

The PMC was furious. 

He walked out of the mess office in a huff. 

He did not take the packet of bones with him.

I told the steward to feed the bones to the dogs who hung around the cookhouse for scraps and leftover food.

After this episode, I knew that my days as Mess Secretary were numbered.

Surely, I would be sacked as Wardroom Officers Mess Secretary (which is what I actually wanted since I was fed up of this thankless “bum job”).

It happened faster than I thought.

The very next morning it dawned on the powers-that-be that I was overburdened with my main primary instructional duties and it was not fair to make me perform additional mess secretary duties. 

A suitable morally pliable officer was appointed as the new Mess Secretary.

And soon – things were back to normal.

“Normal service was resumed  as they say in the navy.


THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH 

PETTY CORRUPTION IS THE FIRST STEP ON THE ROAD TO GRAND CORRUPTION 

I have seen this happening often – the moment someone attains a high position or senior rank he thinks that it his prerogative to freeload.

Many Senior Officers assume that Freeloading is a Privilege of Rank.

Yes, Rank Has Its Privileges  (RHIP

But I am sure RHIP does not mean that you have the licence to make your juniors pay for what you consume and become a freeloader at someone else’s expense. 

There is no free lunch.

Whenever you eat or drink something, someone has to pay for it.

If you do not pay for what you consume then someone else has to pay for what you consume. 

When a person misuses his rank or position and “freeloads” then someone else has to bear the brunt (since money does not grow on trees).

This someone else who pays for your freeloading may be your juniors (or the “organisation” or the taxpayer or you may fleece some other vulnerable people, like contractors). 

Some officers, when they attain high rank, start thinking that it is their privilege to freeload.

They feel that everything they eat, drink, use and consume must be given to them free of cost. 

Many Senior Officers interpret that RHIP means that once you are promoted to high rank then everything is gratis or “on-the-house”.

Freeloading may be “petty corruption”.

But “petty corruption” is the first step on the road to “grand corruption”.

As Lao Tzu wrote in Tao Te Ching:

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”.

This is true of corruption as well.

The journey to grand corruption starts with petty corruption.

VIKRAM KARVE
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Disclaimer:
1. This story is a spoof, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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Revised Version of My Story Earlier 
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