Soliciting Your Best “Gotcha” Stories

| October 13, 2012

The last few articles I’ve written were pretty serious.  Not this one.

Every soldier I ever knew loves a great “gotcha” – a situation when they really “got” someone who truly deserved it.  Could be a buddy, could be a superior, could be someone in another unit.  Hell, sometimes it’s a civilian or foreign national.  But “getting” someone who richly deserves it – in a humorous way that doesn’t cause permanent injury or damage – is a true pleasure.

And it’s especially fun when the “gotcha” is apropos – that is, when you can hoist them on their own petard, so to speak.

So I’m soliciting such stories.  Here are the ground rules:

1.  If anyone got seriously hurt or got their career ended . . . um, no.  Probably not really appropriate.
2.  If you committed a significant crime in getting even. . . again, probably not appropriate.  And remember:  some crimes have REALLY long statutes of limitations.
3.  The intent is humor.  If the story isn’t funny, it’s probably not apropos.

I’ll kick things off.  This story still makes me chuckle, even after 30 years.  It’s a true, first-person account – though after 30 years, I might be slightly off on a minor detail or two.  And no jackasses were permanently harmed while being taught a lesson. (smile)

— — —

A bit over thirty years ago, while I was a young soldier my unit’s higher HQ deployed to support a NATO exercise.  I was one of those selected to deploy with the HQ to provide support.

We deployed to an allied military installation in the Med.  About 200 miles away was a US installation.  That was the nearest location from which we could get US-military-unique supplies.

While deployed, we were billeted in allied quarters.  They weren’t bad.  And they even had orderlies for some of the quarters – junior allied troops detailed to do the sweeping, mopping, take out the trash, etc . . . .

All things considered, supporting HQ was real hardship duty during that exercise. (smile)

The exercise was a fairly long one, so HQ made periodic supply runs to that US installation.  They’d also pick up health and morale items from the Exchange whenever they made a run if they had time to stop and space to back–haul the items.

Being American troops, once supply runs started most everybody accumulated their own little “stash” of favorite American-style snacks from the Exchange – cookies, candy, whatever.  The items weren’t free, but back then they didn’t cost much either.   And since you had to pay for some things on the Allied installation (coffee shops and clubs) the troops had brought cash.

After a while, we started noticing things appeared to be disappearing out of our quarters.  Little things – mostly those American-style snack items.

The culprits must have thought they were being cagy.  They wouldn’t take a whole package of cookies or candy; they’d just take some of the contents.  I guess they figured no one would notice.

Wrong answer.

We were kinda pissed when we figured out what was going on.  We didn’t say anything to the host nation’s forces – it wasn’t worth creating an incident.  But we were also pretty sure we knew who was doing the pilferage.  There were only a few people with the necessary access.

The pilfering continued.  The proverbial “last straw” happened when the guy doing the pilferage ripped off my Company Commander, who was also at HQ supporting the exercise.

It wasn’t so much that the perpetrator  filched a few of the Captain’s Fig Newtons.  He – and the rest of us – could have probably overlooked that.

Rather, it was that he took a bite out of one of the cookies – and then had the nerve to the put the rest of that cookie back in the package.

Needless to say, this insult didn’t go over very well.  The CO was fairly well liked.  And the insult seemed very much “in your face” and deliberate.

At that point, we decided we had to get even.  National prestige was now at stake.  (smile)

We discussed how to get even.  One of our medics thought he could get us something that would temporarily turn the culprit’s piss purple (literally),  thus scaring the living hell out of him.  But we couldn’t figure out a good way to get the culprit to ingest it without raising suspicion.  So we declined the medic’s offer.

On occasion, I have an idea that works.  I don’t like to brag, but IMO this was one of those occasions.

The next time I saw our Assistant S4 – who was in charge of supply runs to the nearest US base – the conversation went something like this:

Me:  “Captain, got a minute?”

Asst S4:  “Yeah.  What is it?

Me:  “You think you or your guys will be going on a supply run anytime soon?”

Asst S4:  ‘Yeah – why?”

Me:  “Think you’ll be stopping by the Exchange?”

Asst S4:  “Yeah, probably.”

Me:  “Think your guys could pick up a bag or two of Hershey’s Miniatures?”

Asst S4:  “Yeah, if they’ve got them.  Put them on the list.”

Me:  “One of the guys seems to be having some problems with constipation.  Could they pick up a box of Ex-Lax, too?”

Asst S4:  ”If they’ve got it, sure.  Put it on the list too.”

Me:  “Thanks, sir.  Need the money up-front?”

Asst S4:  “Nah.  Settle up when we get back.”

The S4 Captain and his folks came through.  Two bags of Hershey’s Miniatures and a box of Ex-Lax came back on the next supply run.

For a couple of days, an open bag of Hershey’s Miniatures was left in the normal location.  Soon, some began to disappear – “mysteriously.”

The location for the trap was now determined, and known to be frequented by the target.  Now all that remained was to bait and set the trap.

Since it was my idea, I got the honor of baiting the trap.

I selected two Hershey’s Miniatures from the open bag.  I carefully slipped them out of their outer wrapper without damaging same.

I carefully unwrapped each.  I managed to do so without tearing the foil.

I opened and unwrapped the Ex-Lax.  I then carefully cut segments from the Ex-Lax of approximately the same size as the Hershey’s miniatures.

I placed each replacement block in the foil in the appropriate location, along the folds.  I then carefully re-folded the foil.

The replacement bars were then slipped back into the outer wrappers.   The payload was ready.

The allied orderlies normally were given the weekend off.  So on Thursday, we executed OPERATION HERSHEY FLOW.

I carefully put the replacement miniatures into the bag, near the top.  Word was passed among those billeted in the area that the trap was set.

Between Thursday morning and Friday evening, the bait disappeared.

On Monday, the allied troops detailed as orderlies returned to duty.  One of them indeed appeared to have lost weight over the weekend.

Mission accomplished, and national honor restored.  (smile)

As I recall, the pilferage of snacks didn’t completely stop.  But it did seem to go down noticeably afterwards.

Today, I can’t remember what those bags of Hershey’s Miniatures cost and that box of Ex-Lax cost – and I damn well don’t care.  They’d have been worth it at 10 times the cost.

— — —

OK, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  What have y’all got?


Note:  hat-tip to Ex-PH2’s coffee-making story here in the comments to another article.  That’s probably what spurred me to go down this path.

Category: Pointless blather

Comments (52)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Tangonine says:

    NHSparky I made him police up the wigglys because that would have given it away… but yeah, 1 left at the bottom would have been perfect.