Wayne operated a road grader on our construction crew. Well, he sometimes operated it. More often he simply used the controls to prop up his feet while he napped on some hidden side spur. I really don’t know how old he was at the time, but I do remember him saying he was seriously thinking about retiring. Of course the popular consensus among management and his fellow workers was that he had already retired, the only difference being he was receiving his check from the company rather than Social Security. But as well-known as he was for his lack of productivity, he was far better known for stretching the truth.
In his younger days Wayne had been a boxer. That was evident in two ways. One, he had cauliflower ears that truly did look like cauliflowers. And, secondly, it was not difficult to see that his face had beaten the living bejeesus out of a lot of fists. And this obviously had a permanent effect on his brain, which I personally don’t believe ever settled back into its original location.
My job at the time was loading logging trucks. One morning I walked in the truck shack to tell the truck boss I would need an extra truck for the day. Of course, as every morning, all the drivers were sitting around on a large circle of chairs and drinking coffee. And in their midst was Wayne. He was in the process of talking about his son who was a submariner in the navy. Obviously, he was very proud of him, and rightfully so. But then he said something that caught everyone’s attention, me being no exception. The conversation went something like this….
“Yeah, the submarine my son is on is top-secret.” he said for all to hear.
“What makes it top-secret?” one of the drivers asked.
Wayne then cautiously looked around the room before speaking. That was understandable. He was most likely looking for faces he didn’t recognize. After all, you never know when a Russian spy might be slinking around a logging camp looking for any tid bit of valuable military type information to take back home. The sneaky bastards! I know if I were a spy, a logging camp would be the first place I would infiltrate for military secrets. Anyway…
“The submarine can become…invisible,” his last words lowering to a raspy whisper as his eyes darted from one person to the next as each gasped in disbelief. At that moment they all realized that they were now a part of top-secret military history…Well, that was what Wayne was hoping for, but in actuality, the last couple parts didn’t really happen. In reality it went more like this….
Though I could see a few snickers being stifled, one of the drivers tried valiantly to make the best of the situation. “Yeah,” he said, “we have those Stealth fighter planes that are almost invisible to radar. I guess they could do the same with a submarine.”
Now Wayne could have left it there, and all would have been fine. But nooooooo! No siree Bob! There wasn’t a chance of that happening. Wayne had to take this one to a whole new stratosphere of unbelievability. “No,” he replied with widened eyes and a slow shake of the head. “This thing really becomes invisible.”
“Oh come on!” another exclaimed. “How does a submarine disappear?”
Wayne gave a smug grin. “If I’m lying may the good Lord strike me with lightning.”
Though there were a couple nervous glances toward the ceiling for signs of static electricity, the stifled giggles were no longer being stifled. “What happens to the crew?” one finally asked. “Does your son become invisible too?”
“Well,” Wayne replied showing a trace of indignation that anyone would actually doubt his words, “my son didn’t go into all the details.”
Finally one of the drivers asked what I believe everyone there had to be thinking. “Wayne, if this is so top-secret, what’s he doing telling you?”
Wayne gave a valiant attempt at keeping a stiff upper lip. “Well…he, he had permission…as long as he only told it to his immediate family.”
Made perfect sense to me! Of course now Wayne was divulging this classified information to God and everyone within earshot. But I guess that was beside the point.
To this day I have no idea how much damage was done to our national security by this leak of top-secret information. But if ever a time an old adage should be brought up, even in a logging camp, it is now. “Loose lips sink ships!” Even if they are invisible….