A SAILOR was caught AWOL as he tried to sneak on board his ship at 3am. The chief petty officer said to the errant sailor: “As punishment, take this broom and sweep every link on this anchor chain by morning, or it’s the brig for you!”
So the sailor picked up the broom and started to sweep the chain. Just then, a tern landed on the broom handle. The sailor yelled at the bird to leave, but it didn’t. So he grabbed the tern off the broom handle and tossed it into the air.
The bird flew off, only to return and alight once again on the broom handle.
The sailor went through the same routine all over again, with the same result. He couldn’t get any cleaning done because he could only sweep at the chain once or twice before the silly bird came back.
When morning finally came, so did the chief petty officer, to check up on his wayward sailor.
“What on earth have you been doing all night? barked the chief. “This chain is no cleaner than when you started! What have you to say for yourself, sailor?”
“I’m sorry, chief,” came the reply, “but I tossed a tern all night and couldn’t sweep a link!”