The AWOL sailor’s punishment – Actually, this is a build-up to a truly atrocious pun — must reading!
A sailor had gone AWOL one evening. When he was trying to board ship not long after midnight, the Chief Petty Officer, who was making his rounds spotted him. The Officer was not happy at this sight, and bellowed, ‘Where the devil have you been, Sailor?!’
The sailor tried to utter an excuse, but the Officer interrupted him. ‘I don’t want to hear another word out of you, Sailor! Come with me, NOW!’ and turned on his heel, with the sailor following not too far behind.
The Officer stopped and pointed at the anchor, whose chains were badly rusted. ‘Ya see that, Sailor? I want you to use that broom over there to clean off that anchor. And when I say clean, I mean I want them sparkling!’ And he went back to his quarters, leaving the sailor to his task.
He got to work, sweeping at the rusted links as best he could, when a tern decided to the end of his broom would be a good place to rest for awhile. The sailor shook the broom furiously and made lots of noise, but the bird didn’t budge. Finally the sailor took hold of it and tossed it overboard so he could resume sweeping. A few minutes later, however, the tern came back and settled on the broom again.
This went on for hour after hour. The sailor would toss the bird off, sweep a few links, and the bird would come back and settle on his broom.
Finally, just before dawn, the tern flew off. Relieved, the sailor started sweeping again, uninterrupted. But before he had made much progress, the Chief Petty Officer returned to look at the progress that was made. He quickly became outraged. ‘What’s the meaning of this, Sailor?! I thought I told you to clean those links! And they are not any better off than they were last night. What do you have to say for yourself?!’
‘But honestly, Sir,’ stammered the sailor, ‘I tossed a tern all night, but I couldn’t sweep a link!’