People seemed to like how my Mom changed government policy. So I guess I can post another goofy story or two from my parents’ past. And possibly present.
Embarrassing them gives me something to do while I struggle to write something ingenious and witty here.
Ah…. So, back in the early 1980’s, while young lieutenant Smith still had hair and worked on Bolling AFB, one of the jobs his unit had to deal with – and was the most despised, hated, loathed and practically plague ridden duty – was manning the night phone for incoming calls.
It doesn’t sound bad. Anyone who’s worked a night shift knows that you can bring along book and just make sure you don’t get caught reading material that isn’t pertinent to your job (Hint: fiction books = bad. Books that could advance your career, like history or math = good.)
But everyone, EVERYONE, hated manning the night phone.
This was no ordinary phone. This was the AF OSI HQ hotline phone. (For those of you who aren’t up on your military abbreviations: Air Force Office of Special Investigations Headquarters. Kind of like the FBI and the CIA rolled up into one division for the Air Force. Kind of.) And EVERY call had to be documented in the log book. Dumb-ass college crack-pots, 2am drunks, oops-wrong-number, conspiracy theorists, all of them. And the number was readily available in the phone book. The hotline number couldn’t be a national secret, because every once in a while something legit actually came in at 2am.
The most popular crank-call that filled at least 2-5 entries every night (and a page or two on Friday and Saturday nights) was the infamous “6 Million Dollar Man” calls. “Steve Austin, here. I need to talk to Oscar. Now!”
*grumble, grumble, scribble, scribble* I wish I could use profanity in the official log book.
But you have to document each and every call. It’s part of the regulations.
It was now lieutenant Smith’s turn at the phone. Again. God, I hate this job.
Smith looks at the phone with reluctance. Don’t ring again. Please, please, please, don’t-
Smith sighs. Wincing, he picks up the phone. “Air Force OSI, Bolling Air Force Base. Lieutenant Smith.”
“Yeah. Hi. I’m Gordon Fellows and I think ya’ll need to keep better track of your nuclear attack plans.”
Lieutenant Smith is now wide awake. Could be a crank. He starts writing. “Excuse me, sir?”
“Well, I pulled into this here truck stop in Texas, and I saw this here briefcase in the phone booth and I thought to look inside to see who it belonged to and all, and I find all these papers stamped Top Secret and shit talking about our country’s nuclear war plans.”
Lieutenant Smith, who is not yet 30, is about to have a heart attack.
“So should I drop this off at the local cop shop or what?” Gordon -concerned citizen- asks.
“No, no, sir. You stay there. We’ll send someone to you. Stay on the line, please.”
After phones were juggled, 2am curses dispensed with, lieutenant Smith’s pants cleaned and various and sundry officers put on high alert, the briefcase was recovered.
But how did it get there, you ask?
Well, there’s two possibilities.
You see, the movies got it somewhat correct. The transporting of highly classified hardcopy documents can only be performed by specially sanctioned personnel. Credentials must be triple authenticated, the courier has an escort, the package is NEVER left unattended, even if you need to take a leak. The package is always locked. The courier may even have the briefcase handcuffed to their wrist to prevent loss.
Ah, but this was the early 1980’s – so some of those protocols may not have gone into effect until after this little incident. So it’s possible that our courier was alone and unchained to his cargo, and stopped to make a phone call. He followed the protocol to not leave the briefcase unattended until he forgot to pick it up again once his phone call was done.
*cue the super secret squirrel spy music*
Someone purposely left the briefcase in the phone booth. It was, after all, unlocked.