El Toro was a great duty station. I had a lot of good friends and we made many excursions to places like Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Dodger Stadium, Hollywood, Laguna Beach and the list goes on.
Settling into my new job at the officers mess was easy and I enjoyed my work. Finally I was able to work my way into the dining room and was working as a busboy, clearing plates and refilling beverages. Sometimes mistakes were made . . . but mine was BIG! A Major motioned to me for an iced tea refill and pushed the glass toward me. The proper procedure was to take the glass “from his left, with the left.” I took the shortcut and tried to accommodate him from across the table. The tea pitcher bumped his glass and the tea spilled in his lap. He was pissed (for good reason) and made a scene.
The next day I was relieved of my dining room duties and sent to the transient officers quarters to refresh rooms (motel maid). I spent my morning changing sheets, cleaning toilets, sanitizing sinks and polishing hallway floors. It was supposed to be easy duty, but I was mortified by it. I knew I couldn’t do this for long . . . it just wasn’t me.
At the lunch break I went to the Sergeant Major’s office and stood by the door waiting for him to return from chow. He took one look at me and said, “Come in and close the door.” I related my morning experience to him and ended with, “I’d rather go to the Brig than make beds for officers.” Of course his answer was that I had volunteered to be a steward. When I said, “No, I didn’t!” He didn’t believe me. I insisted that I did not volunteer, and he picked up the phone and requested my record book.
The signature line on the volunteer page was blank. He was surprised and said, “What the #### do I do with you now?” I blurted out, “Sir, I can do more for the Marine Corps as a coach on the rifle range than in the officers mess. He turned to the page on marksmanship, and my expert qualification was 241/250. He seemed to be overtaken by nervous excitement and after a few calls, I was officially transferred out of steward duty to the training department and rifle range detachment.
Next edition: My military background III