As any sailor will tell you, a thieving shipmate is a dead shipmate. You’re on a boat, in the water, with nowhere to go but the physically defined walls that you signed up to be contained within while you work and live. If you steal, you can bet someone will find out. When they do, and they find who it is, whoever committed the crime better hope that someone of a command level gets to them first, and that includes senior enlisted. Otherwise, you’re looking at a world of hurt.
We, as sailors, get this ingrained to us as early as Boot Camp, and it is made especially poignant for those on a submarine. If you can’t guess, it’s because you’re in an underwater tube, and any kind of physical escape gets you a one-way ticket to Hell, along with the rest of your boat, i.e. drowning.
This isn’t to say that a particular branch is bad, but merely pints out that some people still don’t get the message.
That stated, we would assume that other service members get the same training. Not so much. What follows is a story from a local game shop here in Charleston of one such occasion, told to me by the owner.
A few years ago, Scott, the game shop owner, was running the register and assisting numerous customers. He had quite the line. He also had another half of the store used by gamers to play whatever they had brought in, with the exception of digital entertainment. His wife, Adrianna, was in that part of the store, keeping general order. Not much to do, because there were lots of servicemen there enjoying themselves. They usually policed themselves well, as we do today.
Inside the store, though, is an Air Force Airman. Something to bear in mind about Charleston, is we have every branch of the armed forces represented here, as well as the Department of Homeland Security on our base.
Back to the Airman, he was in the comic books section of the store. He would glance about, grab a comic from the shelf, and ram it under his sweater. This would go on for some time. That is, until Adrianna began making her rounds.
She stopped at the doorway between the sales and gaming floors, and just stands there, putting her hands on her hips. One of the gamers, a marine I’ll call Mike, looks up and asks, “What’s going on, ma’am?”
She says over her shoulder, indicating the Airman, “That man is stealing.”
All of the gaming groups stop what they’re doing, get up, and take positions, some at the exits (there are two or three per) with Mike and another marine taking point. Something like this alerts the customers at the register, and Scott as well, who properly deduces a shoplifter he couldn’t see before.
Mike walked up to the Airman and asked what he had under his shirt.
“Nothing.” Panic is in the airman’s voice, apparently. (Notice what I did with the word, “airman?”)
Mike, not buying it, open-palm strikes the kid, sending him back a few feet, and anything up his shirt onto the floor with a whoosh of breath. He said to the airman, “Nothing huh?” Then in a louder voice, “Looks like about $500 worth. Hey Scott, that’s grand larceny, right?”
Scott, a little surprised, said, “Yeah, it is.” Uh, oh.
The airman is now in trouble at this point, and knows it. He panicked, and in his panic punched Mike.
I should let you know that Mike is an interesting individual. Scott told me that he is a sadomasochist. Also said that Mike’s marriages were very interesting affairs.
Regardless, he took the punch, smiled, and (likely wondering why he wasn’t hit harder) wallops the kid a clean one. Then the other marine who was with him grabs the airman, along with Mike, and they drag him out to the parking lot where another shipmate is waiting with a car like an old Hemi Cuda, and they begin ramming the kid into the backseat.
Those of you who know that most muscle coupes don’t HAVE a backseat would see the torture for what it is. Scott, meanwhile, does nothing. What I’ve neglected to mention until this point is that he’s former U.S. Navy, and as such as zero remorse for what’s being done.
At this point, a man dressed in jeans, a flannel, and a trucker’s cap is bringing his son up to the store. Scott figures him for a shipyard “bubba,” one of the workers at Charleston Shipyard back when they were still doing business. He took one look at the car and asked what was going on. Scott told him it was a shoplifter. The bubba then asked, “Shouldn’t the cops be called on this?”
Scott is taken aback. Apparently, the thought had not crossed his mind. He stepped out of the store and called to the marines at the car, “Hey guys, we got a witness!”
The marines are also surprised, and they both stop for a moment while this new development sinks in. Then when rational thought took over for instinct, they drag the airman out of the car and back into the store, plopping him in a corner while Scott called the police.
Needless to say, the kid got everything coming his way when the police showed up.