Humor in Uniform : Boot-lick your Seniors – Boot your Juniors – and – Cut the Throats of your Peers

Source: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/09/humor-in-uniform-pr-boomerang.html

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal:
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

Humor in Uniform

PR Boomerang
Hilarious Memories of My Glorious Navy Days
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

CATCH-22 : GENERIC CONDOLENCE LETTERS

If you have read the inimitable war novel Catch-22 – you will surely remember the episode of “generic condolence letters” in Chapter 31 of the book.

In his desperation to get promoted to General – the ambitious Group Commander Colonel Cathcart devises a stratagem of personally sending letters of condolence to the ‘next of kin’ of all those killed in action – since he feels that this initiative may help him get positive publicity – though – in actual fact – he is least concerned about the lives of the men under his command.

As is customary in impersonal formal military correspondence – a prescribed ‘standard format’ is prepared for these “generic condolence letters” – and copies of the standardized “condolence letter” are cyclostyled and kept ready as a form – so that only the name of the addressee has to be inserted.

The moment there is a fatal casualty and someone is “Killed in Action” (KIA) – the dead man’s name is promptly inserted in the form – and the “condolence letter” is immediately put up to the Air Group Commander Colonel Cathcart for his signature – and dispatched.

The condolence letter reads:

Dear Mrs., Mr., Miss, or Mr. and Mrs. …….

Words cannot express the deep personal grief I experienced when your husband, son, father, or brother was killed, wounded, or reported missing in action.

One day Doc Daneeka – a squadron medical officer is declared dead by mistake (he is actually alive) – and a condolence letter from Colonel Cathcart is promptly dispatched to his wife:

Dear Mrs., Mr., Miss, or Mr. and Mrs. Daneeka:
Words cannot express the deep personal grief I experienced when your husband, son, father, or brother was killed, wounded, or reported missing in action.

GENERIC CONGRATULATORY LETTERS

Many years ago – during my unforgettable Navy days – I once came across a similar episode.

But – here – it was a case of “generic congratulatory letters” – instead of the “generic condolence letters” of Catch-22.

Our tough-talking no-nonsense hard-taskmaster Boss (a “Sea Dog”) was replaced by a slick smooth-talking shrewd “Sea Doll”.

If you have read my earlier post “Sea Dogs” and “Sea Dolls” – you will understand what the term “Sea Doll” means.

Well – if you haven’t read the spoof on  “Sea Dogs” and “Sea Dolls”  – just click the title above – and the article will open in a new window – but you can read that article later – so first – please read this story.

Our new “Sea Doll” boss had spent most of his career as a “wheeler-dealer” pushing files in the “Northern Naval Command” – and like all such careerist officers – our new ambitious boss believed in cordial “Public Relations” (PR) and polished “Social Graces”.

Our old “Sea Dog” boss had no taste for sham, pretension or tact – he was a coarse tyrant – but he was a genuine straight-talking autocrat – an original officer of the “old mould”.

In contrast – our new Boss was a “refined” fake – and his “mantra” for success was simple:

“Boot-lick your seniors – Boot your juniors – and – Cut the Throats of your peers (course-mates)”

But – he did this with finesse – especially – the “throat cutting” part – so even his victim did not realize that his throat had been cut.

Having made it to senior rank using these dishonorable methods – maybe due to guilty conscience – our Boss was overcome by a desire to “liked” by all – and so he developed a rather “patronizing attitude” towards his juniors – especially his course-mates and erstwhile seniors who had become junior to our Boss – since they had been passed over for promotion – and had fallen by the wayside as superseded officers – and – of course – our Boss continued his sycophancy towards his seniors – bootlicking senior officers with full gusto.

As I said – maybe this “compassion” towards his juniors was due to his guilty conscience – or – maybe – he felt that good “Public Relations” (PR) would help him get further promotions.

As a part of his PR drive – he started sending congratulatory letters to one and all.

Taking a cue from Catch-22 – in the same manner as Colonel Cathcart – our Boss asked his Secretary to prepare a “generic congratulatory letter” to be sent to all “select list” officers the moment a “promotion signal” arrived.

When the letter format was put up to him for approval – he added a last line:

I believe that behind every successful man is a woman, so my wife joins me in congratulating your wife for your success.

(Well – this maxim about a woman being behind every successful man was certainly true in his case – and almost everyone knew the immense “contribution” that our Boss’s wife had made towards her husband’s career success – but I would not like to digress and delve into specific details over here).

One day – after the AVS 2006 Bonanza – a large number of officers were suddenly promoted Captains, Commanders and Lieutenant Commanders.

In true Navy Style – Promotion Signals were released immediately.

Our Boss endorsed on the promotion signals: “Put up congratulation letters to all before lunchtime today.”

On seeing his Boss’s remarks – his Secretary, a young ‘Logistics’ Lieutenant, came in – and he said: “Sir – this is a huge list of names…”

“I know it is a big list – but I want all the congratulatory letters to be dispatched today itself – I desire that my letter should be the first congratulations letter to reach them…” our Boss said.

“Sir – actually it is a ‘Time Scale’ promotion – due to the AVS Cadre Review…” the Secretary said.

“I don’t care – a promotion is a promotion – you don’t argue with me – you just get the letters ready immediately – stop all other work – put everyone on the job – marshal all resources – I want to sign these all congratulatory letters before I go for lunch – and you will ensure that all letters are dispatched today – do you understand…?” the Boss shouted at the hapless Secretary.

Everyone got onto the job pronto.

Since the format of the “generic congratulations letter” was readily available – it was all a question of churning out copies on the personal letterhead of the Boss – entering the officer’s name on each letter – and putting up the letters in bunches for the Boss’s signature.

Meanwhile – tapping his contacts in NHQ – the canny Secretary had already found out the ship/unit addresses of all the officers in the promotion lists – and – another group was busy making envelopes ready for dispatch.

The stupendous task was completed – and by afternoon – all the congratulatory letters were successfully dispatched marked “urgent” – and – once the letter writing spree was over – normal duties were resumed.

COUP DE GRÂCE

By next morning – all the newly-promoted officers in the same station had the congratulatory letters on their tables – and the outstation officers would get them in a day or two by priority mail/Speed-Post.

(By the way – this story happened many years ago – when “snail-mail” was still the prevalent method of correspondence – and – since these were personal congratulations from our Boss – sending them by FAX would be crude and “unofficerlike” – so all letters were sent in tastefully designed sealed envelopes)

Next morning – our Boss got a few “Thank You” calls from some newly-promoted officers who had received his congratulations letter.

Our Boss seemed pleased that his PR effort had borne fruit and he was in a good mood during our forenoon meeting.

It was past noon – and after a long meeting – we were about to break for lunch – when an officer barged into our Boss’s office.

He was our Boss’s course-mate.

Sadly – he had been passed over for promotion to a few years ago – and – like most superseded officers – he was appointed as a nondescript staff officer in the adjoining Headquarters.

He was in his 30th year of service – and he was reconciled to retiring as a Commander – since he had missed all 3 chances for promotion to Captain.

But – suddenly – AVS 2006 happened – and he found himself wearing his fourth stripe – and – now – at least – he would retire as a Captain.

The newly promoted Captain was furious – he was waving the congratulatory letter in his hand as he shouted at our Boss – who was his course-mate.

“What is the matter…? Why are you so angry…?” our Boss asked his course-mate.

“What is the meaning of this letter…?” the Captain asked our Boss.

“Well – at long last – you have been promoted to Captain – so I sent you a congratulatory letter…” our Boss said.

The Captain placed the letter in front of our Boss – and he said to our Boss: “Read the last line of your letter…”

Our Boss put on his reading glasses – and he read the last line in the letter – the coup de grâce sentence which our Boss himself had personally inserted in the letter: “I believe that behind every successful man is a woman, so my wife joins me in congratulating your wife for your success…”

The Captain looked at our Boss – and he said angrily to our Boss: “You are my course-mate. You know that I have been through a bitter divorce – you know the circumstances that caused my divorce – and you are shamelessly congratulating my wife – how can you be so cruel – I never expected such disgraceful conduct from you…”

With those words – the Captain walked out in a huff – while our stunned Boss kept staring at the congratulatory letter in his hand.

Sometimes – “PR” can boomerang !!!

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:
1. This story is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

First Posted by Vikram Karve at 9/24/2015 03:26:00 PM

Please comment. I appreciate your feedback.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: