The Porcelain Jaws of Thievery

Not everything that happens here is in any way related to political events, right and wrong, courage and bravery, boredom and depravity, bootleg DVDs and mp3 players. There's also those occasional bizarre experiences that you promise yourself you'll never tell another soul.

If THIS doesn't knock me off of the pedestal some put me on, then I guess I give up.

A while ago, I woke up as normal, and somewhere in the course of the morning ritual, I noticed that my dogtags were not on the chain around my neck. I figured it snapped as I rolled over in the night, something that happens way too often and results in constantly shrinking chains.

I found one tag and tossed it back on the chain and called it good. I doubt they even USE the things anymore. We went about our action packed Blockbuster movie ultra violent glory filled day where we took Hamburger Hill and whipped Jerry's ass in Normandy, and then we completed the Human Genome Project.

As I was getting ready for bed, I stopped in the latrine and visited my sacred Go-To stall. I'm a creature of habit (not OCD in the least, but I fall into idiosyncratic routines) and I tend to use the same John. I closed the door to the stall and turned around, catching a glimpse of something silver in the bottom of the toilet, almost completely out of view.

I leaned over a bit to get a better look and realized that it was a dogtag. This caused me to laugh, imagining some poor schmuck's misfortune of having their ID tag splash into the shitter with a tiny PLIP. I mean, that's GOTTA suck, right?

Curiosity kicks my ass and I have to try to find out whose it is, so that I can laugh at them and tell them how bad they suck at life.

I make out a few familiar numbers of the social security number.

[Wow, what a strange coincidence...] I think. I lean a little more, crouching down.


[Isn't that what MY dogtags say? That's really weird...]

Denial is saving my sanity at this point, but my bastard brain HAS to know. I'm torn in two directions. I want to know, and I KNOW I don't want to know. This is like fighting the irresistible urge to scratch a huge mosquito bite after staring at it for ten minutes and enduring it. Or worse.

I see letters that start to spell my name.

"Oh dude, no, no fucking way...NO...WAY."

I had forgotten about the broken chain until this horrible, despicable, merciless epiphany. It dawned on me like nuclear fallout.

"GOD, NO!!! WHY?!!"

I clutch the one tag still hanging around my neck, like I was seeking comfort or something. Some kind of assurance that I was wrong, and I had all my ducks in a row.

[No way, guy. Your dogtag is in the shitter. You suck, a LOT.]

"GOD!! How the hell?!"

[How many people do you think SHIT on your dogtag?]

I want my evil side of my conscience to shut the hell up. I want to let the dogtag go and forget all about it, to write it off as a loss. I nearly finalize this decision when the Asshole In Me speaks up again.

[What, you just gonna leave it there? With your SOCIAL stamped on it?]


I inspect the bowl. Do I risk identity theft, or do I reach into a fucking TOILET?

The toilet, for once, is immaculately clean. No shit streaks or anything, and this is one of those low-fill toilets. It's like God Himself gave me that one bit of leeway, just to get me to reach in there.

[Hahahaha, people take some NASTY dookers in there. Got a shoulder-length rubber glove?]

The mental tetherball is way too much for me, and like Ewan MacGregor diving for opium suppositories in the movie "Trainspotting", I say fuck it and go for it. I snatch my dogtag up, immediately filled with shame, self loathing, and bafflement as to how in the hell something like this could happen to such a good person like me.

And then I think about some of the unspeakable things I've done with complete disregard for others. I laugh about it.

Then I remember that I just had my hand in a toilet. I turn around and crash through the stall to the sink and begin scrubbing myself like a rape victim. I practically incinerate my dog tag in hot water and scrub it again. Then I wash myself yet again. I curse my recruiter, I curse everyone responsible for the Iraq war, I curse myself, I curse the cheap design of the chain we use, I curse that goddamn toilet, I curse God for not coming up with a more creative response to the human need to excrete waste.

And then I throw my dogtag into a storage box and forget completely about it. I'm ashamed of myself for reliving this story. I hope you laugh long and hard, damn you.


  1. Anonymous said...

    At least it wasn't your iPod or cell phone. A woman I worked with was on the can and text-messaging with her cell phone. When she finished and stood up, she dropped her cell phone into the bowl. Unfortunately for her, our company has "auto-flush" toilets that flush as soon as one stands up. Needless to say, her phone was whisked away.
    (This how she related the incident anyway).

    We started calling her "bubbles" after that (as in, "I called you, but all I could hear were bubbles!").

    Btw, I went back and read all of your blogs from eleven-bravo as well, from the inception. I figured it was the least I could do. Nice work.

    Stay safe.

    - Mark
    Anonymous said...
    Thanks for the laugh.
    Anonymous said...
    After the collective "OH NO", everyone laughs their way through this scene, I'm sure! I'm reading it again, it is so good! So sorry, but you did the right thing..who knows where stuff ends up :) At least it wasn't the toothbrush.
    Anonymous said...
    Just when we thought the Combat Jack was the worst you could possbily do!
    BTW, you're still on the pedestal. We still won't shake your hand. Tempted to ask if it was the same hand, but I won't...

    Aunt Sandy
    Haole Wahine said...
    I can truthfully say, I laughed so much I popped 2 staples. You are BAD ! ! !
    Anonymous said...
    Hahahahahahahahahah. Sucks to be you. Uncle Paul
    Anonymous said...
    As an Infantryman I was always breaking that damned chain while rolling around in the woods, so I got sick of it and solved the problem...... Step 1. Curse the maker of that cheap china shit. Step 2. Suck it up and by a new chain with plenty of length. Step 3. Get some 550 cord, take the inner rope out of it. Step 4. Work like a four year old in Thailand to get the chain all the way through the cord sleve. Step 5. Throw some silencers on the tags and know that you are a smarter, better squared away Joe now and you will never go toilet diving for tags again.
    wakingdaydreams said...
    LOL!!!!! How 'bout I send you a new chain for Christmas.

    Sisu said...
    Found your blog on Doonesbury.com and am now steadily working my way through the original posts. Fab, funny writing! (Although you lament your mediocrity, fear not.) You have a little H.S. Thompson flavor, which is always a plus for me.

    This post cracked me up (parallel universe; no dog tags, however) and I almost wet 'em. Note to self, don't read humorous musings/rants at the end of a busy shift. Good job.
    Anonymous said...

    Serves you right. =P But it'll never knock you off the pedestal I've put you on.

    Sean from DocintheBox said...
    look at the bright side, at least it wasn't a portajohn, my first time over there I dropped my leatherman in one that hadn't been cleaned in weeks, full almost to the rim. There it stayed. I would have grabbed it out of that toilet too.
    Anonymous said...
    That is what soap and water are for. Nice try with the pedestal thing though.

    VRSWIFEY said...
    Absolutely hilarious! Thanks for making my morning...i knew there was a reason i checkthis first thing. Stay safe and keep up the posts.
    membrain said...
    Absolutely hilarious! And so was that comment from My Own Hero on how to prevent future toilet diving.
    mamaworecombatboots said...
    Ditto to Doc in the Box--at least it wasn't a port-a-pot! I lost my wedding ring the toilet (which I retrieved) and my favorite sunglasses in a port-a-pot (which I did not). Hilarious post--Stay safe.
    auteur paresseux said...
    Hilarious! My dh dropped one of his tags in a "trough" toilet (a long bench with holes cut in it over a ditch) and it stayed, SSN be damned. Stay safe and keep up the great posts.
    joyzul said...
    Today a good friend of mine, lost three of his. This did indeed help with humor. You are a fabulous writter and should be in Journalism. Thanks for the read and keep'em coming.
    Anonymous said...
    Droping my phone or sunglasses is my biggest fear, I really try to avoid the Andy Gumps all together, it really is too horrifying of thought for me. And now after reading this, i have it worse than ever.
    I don't remember how I found your blog, but it is forever in my favorites listing.
    Reading it at work always makes me laugh and gets me through the day. But then I laugh sooo much it gets my boss's attention and this one got his attention in a big way. I had to explain, I'm on break, really, sure I am. But then he read it and now he's reading the previous posts also. I've heard him laughing a few times from his office also! You're making everyone's day here.

    Absolutely great work! I look forward to the next one.

    kbug said...
    Oh my gosh...I laughed so hard. The sad thing is, I probably would have done the same thing..... :) Hold tightly to those tags and have as great a Thanksgiving as you can while you're over there.
    Jenni said...
    "And then I think about some of the unspeakable things I've done with complete disregard for others."

    Are you referring to what you did to that innocent little boy last Christmas morning? ;)
    broadcastmike said...
    yeah, what Doc said. I dropped a camera battery in a porta john once and had no choice but to retrieve it.. thankfully, or not, I guess, it was stacked rather high and I didn't have to go too deep to get it. Great blog, brother. Stay safe, keep writing.
    Anonymous said...
    Used to lace my dog tags up in my boots. Boots to big to flush.

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