What do I sometimes miss about sailing? Or about maritime college? The jokes! (Or some would consider calling them “pranks”). Fooling your colleagues or fellow students is timeless and fun. Of course with respect for the other person (pranking someone is only funny if the other person also has a good feeling about it).
Spicing up your life with a little humor works wonders. Even the dullest working day, the gloomiest mood, toughest meeting or saddest moment can be a little bit sunnier when the corners of the mouth are slightly curled up. A smile makes everything shine brighter. You can always give it to one another, plus: it is free!
I am sure that older mariners will recognize themselves in the stories of the pranks of younger generations. A simple survey would likely produce a never-ending list of craziness. You could probably write an entertaining book about it, or start a popular YouTube channel. Because in general, people who choose a maritime profession are often very resourceful and creative. This is reflected in the humor and jokes that are made.
During maritime school I often pained my cheeks laughing with my fellow students. Typical maritime school jokes included hoisting bicycles up in a flagpole, fermenting cups of milk behind the radiator, secretly welding together steel objects and filling sockets, pipes and bags with (dead) things you can find on the beach.
On board the ships I sailed on, I also had the pleasure to experience lots of crazy silliness amongst colleagues: grease inside working shoes, tied and tangled coveralls, binoculars dipped in ink, grinded coffee in shower heads… The list is endless. I once hung a giant insect on a string in front of a colleague’s cabin. His revenge was turning off the hot water in my cabin. The refreshing cold shower was a well-deserved strike back.
Now that you’ve got me started, we have to talk about those typical engine room and bridge jokes (which improve team spirit in my experience). A bridge officer calling the engine room, jokingly asking if they can speed up pedalling on that hamster wheel below decks, can expect something in return.
When the next waypoint is reached too early during a watch, the officer on the bridge might then discover that his engineering colleague provided payback by screwing with the engine rpm’s. By slowly increasing or slowing down the engine speed, you can marvelously mess-up the route planning of your navigational colleague on the bridge.
These types of jokes build on team spirit when you can laugh about it together. Humor bridges gaps between people and transcends time.
So, let’s take advantage of it! Because the world is serious enough already. Cross-border problems are piling up. The misery seems to be getting more and more urgent, so we need each other. Of course, you must avoid laughing away the serious problems. However, when we approach them together with an open mind and a touch of humor, I am convinced that we can solve anything.