Thursday, April 16, 2015

Humor in Uniform - SUGAR TREATMENT

Humour in Uniform

A Spoof

This happened long back – almost 40 years ago – in the 1970’s.

On our ship – there was a bully – a senior Lieutenant – let’s call him “J”.

Now – a Naval Lieutenant is equivalent to an Army Captain – and those days – you remained in the rank of Lieutenant for 8 long years before you were promoted to Lieutenant Commander – equivalent to Major.

And – after you were commissioned as a Navy Officer – you became a Lieutenant after 3 years – so it took you 11 years to become a Lieutenant Commander.

But – suddenly in the year 2006 – the AVS Cadre Review Bonanza changed everything – and now everyone becomes a Lieutenant Commander in just 6 years service – and the prestige of rank has been diluted.

Those days – on a ship – except for the Captain – and Heads of Department (XO, EO, LO) – all officers were Lieutenants – and – of course – sometimes there were a few under-trainee Sub Lieutenants and Midshipmen too.

As I told you earlier – “J” was the senior-most Lieutenant in the Wardroom – and there was “K” the Senior Engineer Officer – who was the junior-most recently promoted Lieutenant.

“J” was more than 7 years senior to “K”.

“J” was a Cadet Entry Executive Officer with an imposing personality and intimidating manner – he was one of those ‘quintessential’ haughty puffed-up “macho type” ex-Military School, ex-NDA officers – who thought they were prima donnas in uniform.

“K” was a rather meek looking docile Direct Entry Technical Officer – who had been directly commissioned as a Sub Lieutenant under the University Entry Scheme.

The contrast between the two Lieutenants was stark.

“J” was a terror on the ship – as he moved around with a pompous swagger – full of bluster and bombast – bullshitting the hell out of anyone who came in his way.

“K” was a simple unpretentious officer – a thorough professional engineer – who kept to himself – and who quietly performed his duties efficiently – and did his job in a humble modest sort of way.

“J” was a sadistic bully – he had a terrible reputation of ragging and physically abusing his juniors – and one heard all sorts of scuttlebutt about his brutal exploits – maybe bilge – but the gossip was so scary – that most officers kept clear of him – and the Sub Lieutenants and Midshipmen were especially terrified of him as they heard wicked rumors that “J” was a bum bandit on the prowl for peg boys.

“J” made life hell for sailors too – they steered clear of him – and – in fact – some even avoided going on liberty when “J” was on duty – in order to avoid encountering “J” on the gangway – and risk the danger of being put on charge for some trivial issue.

“J” took special delight in bullying “K”.

Maybe “J” had some wicked ulterior designs for which he was trying to subjugate “K”.

Or maybe “J” liked to target “K” because he was a University Entry Officer – because “J” thought himself to be a “cat’s whiskers” cadet entry officer and “K” a lowly “poltroon” who did not deserve to wear stripes.

Once – in full view of sailors – “J” belittled “K” by publicly shouting at him: “We cadet entry officers go through the full tough grind – I got screwed for 6 years in military school – then we were rogered for 3 years at NDA – then toiled as a sea cadet – sweated it out as a midshipman – and then I got my stripe after so many years of jiggering – and you ‘dope entry’ buggers just walk into the Navy with a stripe on your shoulder.”

“Sir – how does entry matter – once we are in the navy – we are all equal officers,” retorted “K”.

“You consider yourself equal to me? My foot! You are a bloody sissy who can’t even take charge of your sailors – just look at the way your engine-room sailors move around in a bloody slothful manner – you are a bloody disgrace to uniform – a sissy with zero OLQ…”

“K” felt humiliated at being insulted in front of sailors.

But he did not want to get into an argument with “J”.

So “K” walked away – and he went straight to his boss – the Engineer Officer (EO) – and complained to him: “Sir – ever since I have come – “J” has been talking to me in an insulting manner – and today he humiliated me in front of sailors…”

“Go and tell the XO – he is “J”’s HOD,” the Engineer Officer said – as he had no guts to admonish “J”.

“K” went to the XO and he complained to the XO about “J”.

“Go to your EO – he is your HOD,” the XO said.

“Sir – I had gone to the Engineer Officer – he told me to come to you since you were the HOD of “J”…”

“Don’t act like a bloody sissy and come crying to me – you are an officer – so you sort out your own problems yourself…?” the XO bullshitted “K”.

The fact of the matter was that both the EO and XO were scared of “J” – thought they outranked him.

As I told you earlier – “J” had an imposing personality.

And to add to his “macho” image was his impressive motorcycle.

Yes – “J” had a mighty Bullet Motorcycle which was his prized possession.

“J” was passionate about his motorcycle.

“J” had “jazzed up” his motorcycle with all sorts of glitzy adornments, ornate accoutrements and fancy gadgets – shining electroplated exteriors, klaxon horns, showy lights, special wheels etc – in a word – his motorcycle looked magnificent.

On Sunday morning – at around 11 AM – “J” was seen kicking his motorcycle and driving off in style.

As usual - “J” had painted the town red on Saturday evening till past midnight – slept late on Sunday morning – woken up around 10 AM – hurriedly got ready – and as per his Sunday routine – “J” was on his way to the Racecourse for the Sunday races.

“K” smiled cannily as he saw “J” drive off on his motorcycle – and he too decided to go ashore.

“K” did not have a vehicle – so he would walk down to Colaba – spend some time browsing on the Causeway – have a Biryani lunch at Olympia – and then maybe see a movie at Regal or Eros – then spend the evening loafing on Marine Drive.

When “K” returned on board ship in the evening – he saw that “J” had lined up the OOD and the duty watch sailors near the gangway – and “J” was shouting at them furiously.

“J” seemed to be in a foul mood – so “K” quietly went down to his cabin.

Later – when “K” went down to the Wardroom for dinner – he found the OOD sitting there.

“Sir – why was Lieutenant “J” shouting on the gangway – did he lose money at the races?” “K” asked the OOD.

“His bloody motorcycle packed-up – the engine conked-off and stalled while he was driving to the racecourse…” the OOD said.

“So what’s he so angry about – any machine can fail – surely he can get his bike repaired…” “K” said.

“It’s not so simple – “J” said that his motorcycle engine has seized – the entire system has got fouled up – the mechanic said the bike required complete engine overhaul or maybe even a new engine – and it’s going to cost him a fortune…” the OOD said.

“Oh – so that’s why Lieutenant “J” is so upset…” “K” said.

“That’s just one part of the story – actually “J” is quite well-off – so money is not a problem for him – the bigger issue is that his pride has been hurt – “J” thinks it is sabotage…”


“The mechanic told him someone put some mucky stuff into the petrol tank – probably sugar…”

“Sugar…? So what happens if you put sugar in a motorcycle’s petrol tank…?”

“You tell me – you are the engineer on board, aren’t you…” the OOD said to “K”.

“K” remained silent.

The OOD looked at “K” and said, “Well – in the Wardroom we are not supposed to stand drinks to fellow officers – but I think I’ll buy you a drink – you certainly deserve one…”

“Drink…? Me…?”

“Well – two unrelated incidents – the steward reported to me that a bag of sugar is missing from the pantry – and the quartermaster told me that you went ashore early in the morning – at around 5:30 – even before ‘Hands-Call’ – and he saw you walking on the jetty – near the vehicle park…” the OOD said.

“K” said nothing – for some time he remained silent – then he smiled at the OOD and said, “I think I’ll have that drink…”

“Sure – but you better be careful - “J” is sure to find out – and then he will have a go at you – so keep a sharp lookout…”

“Let him find out – he won’t do anything – “J” is a bloody bully – and bullies are cowards…”

“What do you mean…?”

“Have you read ‘Godfather’…? Or seen the movie…?”


“Do you remember the horrific ‘horse-head’ scene – where the movie producer finds the bloody severed head of his horse in his bed…?”


“And the arrogant producer is so shaken up that he submits to Godfather Don Corleone’s request – doesn’t he…?


“Well – this time I fingered his motorcycle – next time – who knows what will happen…? And “J” knows this…”

The way the meek-looking Senior Engineer “K” spoke these words in a soft chilling tone – the OOD felt a tremor of trepidation himself.

On a ship – it is difficult to keep anything secret.

Scuttlebutt spreads fast – and soon the ship’s grapevine was abuzz with the story of how the docile looking unpretentious Senior Engineer “K” had deflated the Haughty Gasbag Lieutenant “J” by giving him the ‘sugar treatment’…”

To cut a long story short – from then on – the ‘Pompous’ Lieutenant “J” kept clear of the ‘Coy’ Lieutenant “K” – and everyone on the ship treated Lieutenant “K” with healthy respect and admiration.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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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. This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story 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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