Saturday, May 22, 2010

Punning around

A few days ago I was in one of the hangars when my buddies said they needed to do some work on one of the helicopters, so they asked me if I'd like to ride the brakes (as I wrote about previously). Once the aircraft was in the hangar, my friends needed to remove the rear wheel so it could be service.

That involved having to raise the tail up off the ground, of course. In order to do this, they brought in a small jack, which was placed under the tail section. As one of the Soldiers began using the lever to pump up the jack, I asked whether I might be able to help.

So I jacked up the tail section until the rear wheel could be removed. Amazing that a device so small could perform such a feat!

Now, in Army parlance, "jacked up" usually means "broken" or "a complete mess." I made that connection rather quickly, and mentioned it to my friends, who laughed.

Not long thereafter, I saw my new Battalion Commander coming out of his office, so I called out to him, and told him I wanted to speak with him for a moment.

I trotted over to where he was, and I told him I had just spent the day in the hangar with his Soldiers. He asked me, "Have those Aviators corrupted you yet, Chaplain?"

I laughed and said he needn't worry about that.

I then looked down at the ground, and in a very different voice, said, "Sir, I need to tell you something, and I want you to hear it from me in person, before you hear it from someone else."

I looked up, and said, "Sir, I jacked up one of your aircraft," while I feigned a pained expression on my face.

The looks on his face were priceless. I wish I'd had a super-slo-mo camera recording the interaction!

He seemed obviously trying to maintain a sense of composure. (Remember that I'd only been the Task Force Aviation Chaplain for a couple of days at this point.)

He asked, rather too calmly, "What exactly did you do, Chaplain?"

I grinned a very large grin, and said, again, "Sir, I jacked up one of your aircraft!"

The looks on his face were again priceless, as he was clearly trying to make sense of the change in my voice, the big grin, and the enthusiasm behind my latest statement.

Once it dawned on him what he thought -- and I suspect, hoped -- I was actually saying, he made a pumping motion with his hand as he said, "Oh, you *jacked up* one of my helicopters!"

He was not as impressed by this fact as I was, evidently....

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ
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