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Lunch's Comeuppance
by Sid Harrison ETCM(SS) USN(Ret)
Someone had once observed the gusto with which he never missed a meal or soup-down and had casually asked, "Having a light lunch, George"? so the tag, "Light Lunch" stuck. It became his permanent name from then on, undergoing a further reduction to simply "Lunch".

He was a Seaman, I think - maybe a Fireman, and had "struck" for most of the ratings available on a diesel boat and remained an E3. A reliable watchstander, Lunch might be found standing watches from the engine room to the helm and of course filling in on planes or lookout as needed.

We were running on the surface one warm night in the South Atlantic and Lunch had the helm. It was a calm, quiet night and he leaned against the wheel, slightly bored awaiting another target. Being a creature of patterns his motto was: "whatever works - repeat it". Repeat it over and over and over. So naturally with Lunch on the helm, all on board knew what to expect when going to the bridge - all except one.

With the wardroom movie over the Captain headed for the bridge for a last smoke and to enjoy a few moments of fresh air on a beautiful evening before turning in. The barrel was as dark as it was possible to make it with only the glow from the gyro repeaters, engine order controls and some dim red illumination at the QM plot in the corner. As the skipper came up the ladder from Control a fat wet finger suddenly appeared out of the darkness and drilled into his ear. Annoyed, he brushed it aside and started up again. Another wet finger and a second time he brushed it off.

A third time, again the finger - but this time the Captain grabbed the finger and pulling the attached body downward he hissed, "Lunch, keep your goddamn finger out of my ear".

Lunch gasped and stood up very straight.

I always found it hard to believe that Lunch didn't know it was the Captain and he swore up and down that he had no idea. To my knowledge no other crew members ever got the wet finger in the ear after that. But Lunch never heard the end of it on that boat. It was repeated over and over and over and...