Waldo Henley had the personality of a slug. He was humorless, puffed up with his own importance and often stuck both feet in his mouth at once. His rank as a second class radio man overseeing fifteen crew members had come about, not through skill in dealing with others, but just serving in the Navy for several years.
Waldo realized he wasn’t well-liked. He complained about being unpopular to a small group of sailors.
“I think everybody on this ship hates me.”
Billy, a smart-aleck seaman countered. “No, Waldo. That’s not true. There’s over a thousand men on this ship and not all of them know you.”
The men all laughed.
Thinking about this comment, Waldo fell into deeper despondency. He shook his head sadly and said, “If I died tomorrow, you guys would all come and pee on my grave.”
Billy, the joker, spoke up again. “No, Waldo, all us guys hate standing in line.”
Now the men not only laughed, they slapped Billy on the back as if he were Bob Hope, the comedian.
Maybe Waldo didn’t know how to improve himself. He continued to make tempers flare by playing jokes to get attention. He put grease on the locker handles, tied socks in knots and never passed up the opportunity to knock off fellow’s hats.
Those men who ate meals with Waldo knew another fact about him. He was a carnivorous T-Rex. When any kind of meat was on the menu, he tore into it and devoured it voraciously.
So just a few days out to sea on a fifty-one day tour, somebody decided to get even with Waldo.
A long, loud whistle caught the men’s attention.
“Now hear this, now hear this. A special dinner of steak and lobster will be commencing tomorrow evening at 1730 hours on the mess deck.”
Waldo rubbed his hands together in gleeful anticipation.
The next morning, he sat up in bed and saw the glass that held his false teeth was empty. He frantically searched everywhere. He even asked the men in the bunks near him if they had seen them.
“No, Waldo, we haven’t seen your teeth,” they said, with straight faces.
As dinnertime approached, Waldo became more desperate. He began questioning sailors.
“Do you have false teeth? I’ll pay you to borrow them just for tonight. I’ll wash them up real good afterwards.”
There were a number of men with false teeth onboard, but none willing to take Waldo up on his offer. That night and for many nights after that, Waldo ate applesauce, mashed potatoes, soft rolls and drank chicken broth.
When the ship came into port, Waldo went straight to a dentist, had molds made and waited for dentures. He bought two pairs to ensure he would always have teeth to chew meat.
Somewhere on the floor of the Pacific Ocean are Waldo’s teeth. I should know. I’m the one who threw them overboard.