This is a story I’ve told many times, but here it is for posterity. I was a “Radio Intercept Analysis Specialist” while at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines. Everyone in my barracks were Air Force Intelligence, and we were a 24 hour shift group. Our schedule was 4 days (8-4), 4 mids (4-mid), and then 4 nights (mid-8. After that, the next 4 days were days off.
Nights held great anticipation. The good news? We all knew we would have four days off when we were done. The bad news? All nights crews had to perform fairly basic cleanup routines. Sweep the floors, ashtrays, clean the latrine and my favorite, making coffee for first shift.
I’m being facetious of course… I hated making coffee for the lifers. They NEVER gave us any credit for anything, and were just jerks about most things. We knew when we had a good shift, but other than our shift supervisor saying something, forget getting a compliment. I was the shift supervisor for our group and I knew why. I could transcribe a live conversation on a manual typewriter, no simple feat I assure you.
After a particularly smug round of looks and comments, I had it. During my four days off, I was going to figure a way to get even with them. Didn’t take long, just a little imagination and the guts to do it.
The next night shift, I volunteered to make the coffee every night. My flight buddies thought I was crazy, but they didn’t know what I had up my sleeve. We were supposed to clean the pot each night with steel wool – carefully rinse the pot and then refresh the grounds and fill the pot with water. I used the steel wool all right, but I didn’t rinse the pot so carefully. Then I would carefully scrape half of the old coffee grounds and put fresh coffee on top. Not only did I not change the filter – those grounds were 24 hours old.
I never made it to the third night. When the day shift came in the second day, I was asked who made the coffee the previous night and I admitted that I had. I was TOLD by the day Sgt. in no uncertain terms that I was NEVER to make coffee again. I never found out if it was the horrible taste or stray strands of steel wool that convinced them to issue that order, but frankly, I didn’t care.