By: Garland Davis
He was a Second Class Mess Management Specialist. He always insisted that he was a Commissaryman and not a fucking Steward. He was nearing retirement at twenty years. He was from one of the deep south states. His middle name was “Alfurd.” I don’t know if the spelling was intentional or the mistake of a poorly educated registration clerk.
He came to be known as “Furd” by the cooks and the crew. He took their joking and pranks with good spirit. He had one tooth, upper front. When the dentists were pulling teeth, I often wonder why they just didn’t take them all. For his birthday the cooks bought a new toothbrush and cut all the little bristles off except for one clump. They said that was all Furd needed for his tooth.
He didn’t drink coffee. Furd kept a case of Pepsi-Cola in his locker and would drink a room temperature Pepsi each morning. I once asked him why. He told me he was Mormon and didn’t drink caffeine. I told him that Pepsi also had caffeine. He swore I was wrong. I told him Mormons weren’t supposed to drink beer either. He haughtily informed me that he was a “Jack Mormon and it was okay.”
Furd was a “one-nighter.” Payday night he went ashore and blew his whole paycheck, whatever port we were in. Sometime he would be moping around the Mess Decks between paydays and I would loan him a Twenty so he could go ashore. He always kept track and paid me back the first thing after he was paid.
He was mediocre cook but he was a hard worker and would take on any task assigned but not without bitching about having to do it. Once he was making Chili and told me he was going to make it so hot I couldn’t eat it. He was chopping Jalapeno Peppers and told me he was going to use them to make it hot. I was eating one of the peppers as he told me that. I asked him how they were going to make it too hot for me to eat when I was eating the pepper.
He once asked me if I would help him study for the MS1 test. I told him that of course I would. He said, “I want to learn what you have learned from experience not that shit in the books.”
I told him that they would be testing him on the books, not on what I knew.
He replied, “Then they are fucked up.”
He creeped the XO out with his one toothed smile and I was directed to make sure he wore his dentures when outside the berthing compartment. When Furd could, he would be in the compartment during XO Messing and Berthing Inspection and would grin at the XO without his teeth. The XO sent the Yeoman into the compartment to make sure Furd wasn’t there and eventually required that I be there to clear Furd out of the space before he would inspect it..
That was one of the reasons I eventually assigned him to the Wardroom Pantry. I didn’t think it would last long, but it gave me a chance to take a dig at the XO. I stated before that Furd was a mediocre galley cook. Furd shined in the Wardroom Pantry. It turned out that he was an excellent cook when cooking in small batches and giving individual attention to each serving.
The Junior Officers loved him and the XO even came to accept him, as long as he kept his teeth in his head. He took a load off my shoulders by keeping the Officers happy and well fed and minimizing bitches from the XO..