While at anchor in the Shatt-Al Arab fellow cadet Dougie and I fell out with the Chinese second steward who for some reason objected to us eating our lunch in the duty mess. Eating in the duty mess was convenient. It meant that we did not to have to get cleaned up for lunch given that we were working on deck in boilersuits getting hot and sweaty. While the second steward very much resented serving anyone in the duty mess, he especially felt that cadets should not be taking their meals there. He complained to the chief steward, who complained to the mate (chief officer), who told us that we had to eat in the saloon. We were understandably annoyed and decided to take revenge.

Yours truly in boilersuit and needing a haircut! mt Stolt Sheaf – May 1975. 

How does a cadet get revenge on a second steward? Another cadet on another ship had told me of a method he had used involving teaspoons. Every time we ate in the saloon Dougie and I would take our coffees back to our cabins. We would return the cups and saucers to the pantry but held onto the teaspoons. It wasn’t long before almost all the teaspoons on the Stolt Sheaf were hidden away in the cadets’ cabins, except for a couple in the engine room and wheelhouse.

The day finally arrived when the catering staff found themselves down to their last teaspoon. The second steward guarded this spoon, keeping it in his shirt pocket. When the captain asked for a teaspoon to stir his coffee the second steward erupted. For the cadets it was a joy to watch the melt down at the opposite end of the officers’ dining table as the second steward tried to explain in broken English to the captain that there were no f*****g spoons on the f*****g ship.

The second steward on the Stolt Sheaf guarded the last teaspoon on the ship! (simulated photograph!)

I guess we realised that we might have gone too far, and spoon by spoon we began to feed our supply of teaspoons back into general circulation. We were probably the prime suspects, but stewards do not have access to cadets’ cabins because cadets are required to clean their own cabins, unlike the officers. This meant that the second steward had no way of investigating any suspicions he may have had. Revenge was sweet. We never got to eat in the duty mess, but we certainly made the second steward pay for excluding us.

Revenge may often seem as sweet as it did for two navigating cadets back in 1975, but it is never right. Jesus taught us to forgive those who hurt us, not to hurt them back. How many of us struggle with that?

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.

 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” (Luke 6:27-36 NLT)

Note: This is a rewrite of a post from 2016 which is part of the ongoing story of my time on the Stolt Sheaf. I still chuckle about the day the second steward exploded. But I know I shouldn’t.