Mike Whicker just returned home to
The Day I Stole the Cook’s Life Jacket
On May 30th, after four days in
The call came through the ship’s intercom: “All hands assemble on the quarterdeck immediately for an “abandon ship” drill. Bring your life jackets.”
At the time the order came through, I was in the starboard crew quarters. I looked around and grabbed the first life jacket I spied and headed to the quarterdeck.
I was assigned to the “starboard crew.” Captain Jornlin assembled the starboard crewmen and everyone donned their life jacket. On the port side of the ship, boatswain Bruce Voges did the same with the other half of the crew. After the captain instructed us in the proper way to jump off the ship, he showed us how to free and inflate a portable life raft. As the captain continued, someone asked a question.
Heads turned, looking. Joe was the ship’s cook and he was not among us. The captain checked his roster; Joe was assigned to the portside crew but was not over there. Just as the captain ordered one of us to go look for our wayward cook, Joe appeared. He was still in his kitchen apron and with no life jacket. The captain asked him about the jacket.
“I can’t find it. It’s not where I left it.”
“What’s the number?” the captain asked. I found out each jacket had a different number so it could be matched to the crewman it was assigned to. For some reason I had slipped through the cracks and had not been issued one when I boarded in
“Four.” Joe said.
“Everyone check their number,” the captain ordered.
Each number was painted large and bold on the front of each jacket. All except mine.
“Whicker! You have your life jacket on backwards,” the captain said.
Sure enough, I had put my jacket on backwards. And when I turned it around the number was, of course, four.
“Whicker, you don’t have to steal the cook’s life jacket because he burned the chicken last night!”
I’ll never live this one down.