May 27, 2007

Breaking Lock on the Radar

When I was new in the Israeli Navy and new to my ship, I was initially assigned to be a radar operator. No big deal. There were several people that shared that role. I was very nervous though because I was the only crew member that was not a native Hebrew speaker. (Well, there were actually a couple of Russian speakers who had come to Israel when they were 8 or years old...but I had arrived 8 or 9 MONTHS before I was drafted. My Hebrew still had the price-tags on it.)

One day, while I was doing some minor task that did not involve the radar, there was a blaring message over the intercom. It was something line: "Adiv, report to the CIC immediately!!" (CIC is short for Combat Information Center...which is the English translation for the dark room in the belly of the ship with all the flashing lights and computers that you see in the movies.)

I ran to the CIC. The Captain was not there in the CIC. One of the other officers was there and reported my presence to the Captain. The Capatin then roared over the intercom that there was a "Lock on the Radar" and that they needed a hammer to break the lock.

I was totally befuddled. "Lock on the Radar?" That sounded serious...or maybe normal depending on what 'lock' meant. My Hebrew skills were not helping me decipher what was happening. The urgency of the situation was apparent though... I started to ask the officer what "lock on the radar" meant. Before I could get an answer, the demand by the Captain repeated itself over the intercom. The officer in harried gestures more or less pushed me to the rear door of the compartment and told me which room the hammer was in. I made my way to the compartment and reasoned with myself: "If this is a joke, I should play along. If this is not a joke, I should do exactly what the Captain is screaming for." So I made my way to the rearmost compartment on the ship, passing many members of the engineering department who motioned me on (they were hearing the calls for the hammer too.)

Finally, I found the locker that listed "Hammer" was one of the supplies. It was a huge sledgehammer. It weighed at least 15 lbs. Probably lots more.

I staggered with the hammer back through the ship (this is all at sea so all my movement in this story was basically staggering.)

I finally got to the CIC. The Captains voice was changing tones and I felt the a heightened need to bring the hammer before it was too late. The CIC officer told me to bring the hammer up to the Bridge because the radar with the lock was upstairs. I made my way up to the Bridge...

The end of the story:
It was a joke. They were making me fetch a sledgehammer as a gag. I was all smiles, but I was hurt and furious at having my Hebrew made fun of. Then, a few weeks later, I learned that every newbie on the ship gets a joke played on them. They rotated through a closed set of jokes...but the "Lock on the Radar" joke wasn't used for awhile. Apparently, almost everyone falls for the same immigrant or not.

I never got over my self-consciousness over my Hebrew, but I forgave them for having fun.

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