BEE Shop Files: The Water and the Wing Commander's Wife

Mark Conley

Active member
During my younger days as a Bioenvironmental Engineering Technician (read Public health technician for the other services), I was prone to making big tactical mistakes with my mouth. I often averaged one big hairy mistake every 3 months. Well, because of this, my officers and NCO in charge of me kept a regular counseling form filled out, ready for use. This particular one was no different: at the time it wasn’t very funny, but now that I reflect over it….

It was a big water crisis on the base. Seems like if you mixed the local water with a special form of chlorine, it reacted and produced the most amazing odor. An odor calculated to drive every dependant wife, enlisted, officer or other, in fear, to the nearest telephone and call the Bioenvironmental Engineering shop to come sample it to see if was harmful. Now there really wasn’t anything wrong with the water (Yeah, right!) but as they say in the coast Guard, “ you have to go out. You don’t have to come back”. Unfortunately, as the lowest ranking person in the unit, it was my happy job to go out and sample. And Sample. And still do more sampling. I sampled for almost a month, until I was blue in the face. In short, I was a train waiting for a wreck site.

My radio was often full of job orders: soon it was just a mechanical thing, just trying to get through all of them.

Right up until the time the Wing Commanders wife called. Her water stank. She needed it sampled. She really wasn’t being mean or pushy: it was just that she had been at the bottom of the list for a full days work, and I couldn’t get to her fast enough. Finally, I showed up on her porch. She was patient. She led me into the bathroom, and told me to smell the stuff that the base was serving her and her children.

What I didn’t know was her and husband was both leaving on a trip in a few hours to take a well earned vacation. She had gussied up, looking real good, and had decided to apply some island hopping perfume to get the old man’s sensory organs a twitching. This was some very strong perfume. My main impression was being smothered by a ton of island flowers. This perfume could in my opinion, wake the dead.

So there I was…in the bathroom with her. And her perfume. I tried to smell her water, but all I got was the odor of island flowers. Now what I meant to say to her was “ Ma’am I really cant smell the water, due to your better smelling perfume” What actually came out of me was “Damn lady I cant smell a thing! That perfume you are wearing is over powering my nose! Can you leave the bathroom?”

I swear I have never seen anyone get so mad! She stormed out of the bathroom. I heard the front door slam. I then heard some vernacular outside I had never heard before…muffled but clearly understandable. What really shook my grits was when her husband came into the bathroom. You remember - the Wing Commander? He took one long look at me, and went outside to calm his wife down.

A few minutes later I’d finished the work and got the sample. That’s when I ran into him in the foyer. He looked at me and said, “ I got her calmed down. I think you’d better apologize to her, and leave while the getting is still good. By the way, I think her perfume smells bad too, but I ain’t stupid enough to tell her that”.

I went out to her and apologized most profusely. She finally understood that the perfume wasn’t bad but just messing up my sense of smell. Her final words were “Son, I’d try to learn a little tact in life if I were you”

Guess who I had to go on deployment with the very next month? It seems like I got an awful lot of K.P. that deployment, but as all things stood, it was the least I could do.

There is one final postscript to this story. The wing had a dining out a few years later. As one of the senior Airman in the group, it was my pleasure to be at the main table as a guest of the Wing Commander, due to some fine performance on my part during another wing deployment. And yes…I had to sit next to the Wing Commanders wife. Only, by this time I had learned some tact. And she was a very forgiving person. When she learned how I kept her husbands deployment going strong, she actually started warming up to me. When her husband brought up the perfume story, she actually started laughing about it, and by the end of the night the old sin had been washed away.

Just tactful to those on the way up..cause you'll never know who will beat on you on the way down :D
:lol: Good to have you back Mark Conley, been awhile.

On the subject of opening your mouth when you shouldn't, my Dad, when he was at Sheppard AFB in basic was the flight leader (I believe that's what he called it, anyway he was the head recruit). One day he was marching his other Air Force recruits (sorry, I really don't know any of the AF terminology :lol: ) around singing the cadence:

See that lady in the red
Makes her livin on her bed

as they passed the teenage daughter of the Base Commander.

Who was wearing a red dress.

My Dad didn't have a very happy life for awhile after that. :lol:
Another great one from Mr. Conley.. :D

Welcome back, we have missed your great stories!