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The Reefer Engineer

by | Mar 25, 2018 | Shippy Experiences

The Reefer Engineer

Every ship, at least in those days, where things were not too regulated, had a joker on board. Johnny was an ace amongst jokers. It was his first ship and had joined as Reefer Engineer. He was a glib talker and it seems he had talked his way into the job. His only experience with refrigeration was that he sold fridges at a retail outlet. Here he was, supposedly incharge of all the refrigerating machinery on board a ship that carried close to 3000 tons of fruit to an accuracy of 0.1 degC!

Well, the crew decided to play a prank on him.

The weather was clear and sunny. The ship was trundling around full speed. It was mid afternoon. Through his open cabin door, Johnny noticed one of the seaman in a life jacket carrying a suitcase. His interest got piqued a bit when he noticed a second one and then a third one doing the same. He walked out of his cabin only to see almost ten of them, similarly dressed, all ready with their suitcases. On enquiring, one of them told him “The bosun told us that there is bad weather ahead and the ship is going to sink. We are taking all our belongings and sitting in the lifeboat to be safe”.

As he was the Reefer Engineer, it was his job to go through all the cargo holds every day and take manual temperatures of the fruit. During these visits, he would sling a small bag over his shoulders and fill it with fruit for the crew to eat.

I was the Chief Engineer and was on the bridge at that time, talking to the Chief Officer, when Johnny came up to the bridge and butted in. The conversation went like this:

 “Sir, I want that bag”

“Ok, I’ll give it later on after my watch”

“But Sir, I want it right now”

“Why? What’s the emergency?”

“Sir, the ship is sinking and I want to pack some of my things in that bag”

The look on the Chief Officer’s face was memorable.

“What? The ship is sinking? Are you out of your mind?”

“Maa kasam, sahib, ask the bosun if you want, the ship is really sinking”

“I am C/O and you want me to ask the Bosun if my ship is sinking? Get off the bridge this very minute or I will kick you off myself!”

I was standing there looking on incredulously. Next day, the crew told me that they had worked out this elaborate scheme. The only hitch was that the C/O was a rather scary guy, so they did not approach him to play along. Johnny realised that he was ‘had’ when he came back from the bridge and saw his fellow crew members rolling on the decks with laughter.

It seems he had already packed two suitcases and needed that small bag, which he had given to the C/O,  to pack a few of T-shirts that were remaining!!

Niranjan Bangera


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Written By: niranjan

Financially Stupid Niranjan


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