Jack of the Dust

Jay Gordon

Groundcover vendor No. 533

If you’ve read my other articles, then you know I was in the Navy. Well this is a story of one of my experiences.

While in the Navy I was a Culinary Specialist, aka a cook. Being a cook in the military does not mean you just cook food all day. Yes, that is the overall task, but we are in charge of maintaining the morale for anywhere from 300 to 7000 personnel daily while out at sea. Housekeeping, any social event needing food, 24/7, 365. When I first arrived at my ship, I was set up from the get-go.

My supervisor put me with another sailor who had been in for over four years. His job was “The Jack of the Dust,” or JOD for short. He was in charge of ordering all the food supplies on board. We had to keep enough food stocked for a minimum 21 days for 300 personnel to eat three times daily. They keep count of all food that goes in and out and distribute it to the kitchen. This job is reserved for higher enlisted sailors because you have hundreds of thousands of dollars of product you’re responsible for. 

Eventually I’m working with this guy everyday, and he’s showing me the job little by little. Showing me how “easy” it is and what it’s “really” like. Lies!

He was hitting me with all the flim flam. So while on my first deployment, he’s showing me the ropes, but mostly I’m doing the grunt work and he’s doing the paperwork. Sometimes he let me do it, and if anything was wrong he’d simply correct it. I figured, cool. What he was doing was the set-up.

He and my supervisor were horrible at ordering protocols and staying in the black. When we got to Italy, “Order the finest of pastries!” In Greece, it was, “Order gyros for everyone.” But they weren’t writing these things down.

Now about halfway through deployment I sign paperwork taking over the duties of the JOD position. Big deal since I was a junior sailor. At least that’s what I thought. A week later my supervisor and my trainer were leaving the ship. They had been transferred and I was officially in charge of the food storage facilities. I was so happy for about a month. 

That’s when the jealousy of other sailors who wanted the position moved in; they would purposely over and under order so that I would always be behind in my work. Then the shoe dropped.

We were getting inspected for cleanliness, food taste, quality, service and records. I’m not tripping, that’s when everything changed. My new supervisor asked to see the books. I was cool with it. The next thing you know, he comes barreling into my office, his face red as Rudolph’s nose with a cold. 

“What the @#$#% happened?! How? How!” he screamed. I didn’t understand what he was referring to. He showed me the books and it said that over 1.3 million dollars was missing. I had a heart attack. After we both calmed down we went and reviewed everything for hours, and over everything that was on hand and figuring out what was there and what was not. 

He saw the wines, the pastries, and other port specialties that were never written off, then he looked to see when I officially took over. When he saw the date and that nobody else had signed, he said the words I needed to hear, “Well you didn’t **** this up.” The feeling of weight lifting off my body felt so comforting. 

Knowing I wasn’t going to prison for embezzlement was great. I was upset that I was set up to be a fall guy, especially in the military. It was a good learning experience.  Bad people do exist in the world and if you see them in a position or in a role that you would believe gives them a certain level of prestige or higher moral compass — watch them the most. 


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