"Radio Operator - What is actually your name?"
This was my first experience as radio operator on
shipboard, and unintentionally I let loose much confusion. Today I can
only smile about it.
It was my first ship, a small refrigerator ship,
the "Marie Horn," and in Cadiz, Spain, I went on board as a
newcomer. At first sight I was disappointed that the ship was so small.
It was worked as a coastal motor-ship. I went on board, and through the open
door of the officers room saw the whole harbour crew sitting at the table
drinking coffee. The machine-room people werer wearing coveralls, and the
other louts were in normal clothing. The steward brought me a cup of coffee
and saucer, and in contrast to the others, wore a white jacket. While
attempting to put my coffee on the floor, and put myself in place, I said,
"Good day, I am the new radio operator, and my name is Pust." The
reaction was not what I had expected. One slid onto the floor laughing,
one stared in amazement, and the steward laughed so hard that he spilled his
coffee. Then there was a pause. Before another word could be spoken, the
captain said, "Your predecessor is waiting for you; go now, and see me
later in my office." Rude laughter followed me out the door. I
quickly forgot this incident; the hand-over of the radio station followed, and
the famous "Official Handbook of Hamburg-South" lies now forgotten.
After sailing I was badly seasick, and the steward
came to my room and said, "Herr radio operator, what is actually your
name?" Later in the officers room I explained that my name was actually
Pust, and we both had a good laugh.
On English-speaking ships, the radio operator is
known as "Sparks, and in German-speaking ships, he is known as,
(Explanation: In vulgar German, as in the
military, etc, "pust" is also "fart" in English.
Thus, the radio operator may be referred to as
"Funkenpuster," or "radio-fart," in English. Herr
Pust was rudely treated.)