Monday, August 14, 2017

Humor – A “Freudian Slip”...?

Story from My Navy Days

This story happened around 17 years ago when I was in the Naval Dockyard Mumbai.
This a story of a “Dockyard Matey” – as we affectionately call Dockyard Workmen. 
Dockyard Matey is the traditional nickname for Non-Navy Civilian Personnel working in a Naval Dockyard. 
You will be surprised to know that the Navy probably has more civilian personnel than men in uniform – yes – there are a large number of Naval Civilians in dockyards, depots, repair yards, shore establishments etc 
In fact – most of the maintenance and logistics units of the Navy have a significant proportion of civilian personnel.
A large majority of the Naval Civilian Personnel work in the two premier Naval Dockyards which play the vital role in keeping warships and submarines in good repair  seaworthy and fighting fit. 
“Dockyard Mateys” are tradesmen – ranging from highly skilled/experienced technical experts right down to to semi-skilled/unskilled workers (the designation unskilled is a misnomer because even the USLs (Unskilled Labour) are highly proficient workmen). 
Except for a handful of Navy Sailors in a few departments – Naval Dockyards are staffed entirely by Civilian Personnel – but – Naval Dockyards are entirely managed by Uniformed Naval Officers.
Yes - the Admiral Superintendent, General Managers, Managers, Deputy Managers and Assistant Managers are Technical Officers of the Navy – and – for a Naval Officer of the Technical Branches  a Dockyard Appointment is considered a Prestigious Criteria Appointment. 
(I have served a total of 10 years of my long Navy career in both the premier Naval Dockyards in Mumbai and Vizag)
Whereas the Naval Fleets/Flotillas are the frontline afloat component of the Navy – the Naval Dockyards (which keep the Warships/Submarines in good repair and fighting fit) can be considered as the “frontline” shore-based component of the Navy.
Hey – I have digressed.
Now – let me get back to my story. 
The Dockyard Matey” (Dockyard Worker) in the story was a USL (Unskilled Labour).
The beauty about him was that he took immense pride in speaking English.
He insisted on answering in English  even if someone spoke to him in Hindi or Marathi  which was his mother tongue.
He was cleaning my office one morning  when the phone rang.
So – the Dockyard Matey picked up the phone.
A Naval Officer from Delhi wanted to speak to me.
“He is no more...” the Dockyard Matey answered.
“He is no more...? the Naval Officer from Delhi asked – stunned on hearing these words.
The Officer from Delhi was totally shocked and taken aback by the shocking news of my untimely and sudden “death”.
Still recovering from the shock  the Officer from Delhi commiserated with the Dockyard Matey  and – the Naval Officer said to the worker: 
“Oh  I really did not know that he is no more – I am very sorry to hear this...”
With these words of condolence  the Officer from Delhi disconnected the phone.
The Dockyard Matey felt good.
He felt proud that he had communicated superbly in English. 
In fact  he had matched the Naval Officer from Delhi – word for word  in the English Language.
After a few moments  the concerned Officer from Delhi rang up the General Manager (GM) of the Dockyard to enquire about me.
“He is sitting right in front of me...” the GM said. 
“What...?” the Officer from Delhi exclaimed over the phone, surprised. 
Then  the Officer from Delhi told the GM about the phone call  that he had been told by someone in my office that I was “no more” 
“Oh  he has been transferred to another department  He is no longer Manager XXX – now he is Manager YYY...” the GM said.
We all had a good laugh.
The worker had said: “he is no more”.
What he meant to convey was: “he is no more here” (in this department).
He had just missed out one word: “here”  
And – the meaning had changed. 
I was assumed to be dead. 
In Navy parlance – I was “consigned” to the “Davy Jones’ Locker”.
Or  was it a Freudian slip...?
Not likely  since the Dockyard Matey  an innocent USL  was really a nice guy  who just wanted to show off his proficiency in the English Language.
It was just a case of “Effective” Communication.
So  next morning  I went back to my old office  and – I gifted him a copy of the book on “English Speaking and Conversation”. 

During my long career in the Navy  I received immense love and loyalty from my sailors. 
But – I have a special place in my heart for the Dockyard Mateys” with whom I worked in both the Naval Dockyards I can never forget the genuine warmth and affection with which they cared for me and looked after me. 
By the way – even after retirement  I am still in touch with the Dockyard Matey” in the story – and – yes – even now – he speaks to me in English – in flawless English. 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

1. This story is a fictional spoof, satire, 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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