Tuesday, July 29, 2014

One Red Light At The Front

The following is something originally published elsewhere.  When I wrote it, I was looking for a fond holiday memory during a time when one normally doesn't have one.  What resulted as a small practical joke turned into a story I have been telling for years now.


On Christmas Eve 2001, I was way on the other side of the world. I was somewhere off the coast of Pakistan and drew mid-watch. For those of you that don't know, that means that I was on duty from 1130pm until 330am. I was training two people that night to do watch standing, my friend Joey and a kid named Walt. Walt was from the town of Wolf Creek, Montana. I am just going to go ahead and automatically assume that this is a small town, because anything named after an animal or a type of water body is automatically considered for small town designation. Think about it, when you think of the names Chicago, New York, Los Angeles; you think of a thriving metropolis. What do you think of when you think of Wolf Creek, Montana? Six people in the general store sitting around a damn pickle barrel. But I digress...

We had started watch that night with a two hour stint of lookout duty on the back end of the ship. Since it was late at night, and it was Christmas Eve, we decided to have a little bit of fun with the people on the bridge. So about five minutes before midnight, I take the headset from my trainee and go into action.

"Bridge, this is aft lookout. I need to report an air contact", I piped in up to the bridge.

The bridge's phone talker gets on mic and replies to me, "Ok aft lookout, what do ya have?"

As I begin the slow roll and boil to mess with these people's heads Joey and Walt are laughing hysterically. They already know I am up to something but have no clue what it is gonna be, other than that is good. "Well I have a surface contact about ten miles out bearing 180, looks to be pretty high up there. It appears to be a red sleigh being driven by a jolly fat man. It also appears that he has a giant bag in the back of the sleigh, possibly filled with toys. Maybe a slingshot. Possibly a sweater from a well meaning grandparent that just doesn't get the fact that you are twenty-two and don't like clothing with pictures of ducks anymore. Boy, that thing sure is stuffed. Anyway, the air contact in question appears to be propelled by eight reindeer."

At this point you can hear everyone else on the bridge just laughing hysterically, because they know that the bridge talker is going to have to report all of this mess back to the officer of the deck. She sighs and says to me, "Ok smart ass, anything else?"

"Why yes", I replied, "One red light at the front."

Sometimes you can't pass up on an opportunity like that. I mean I had to say something. Didn't want them shooting down Santa Claus.

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