We were loading up all of our equipment for a short jaunt up the coast of California. The Navy does this so that boats can practice and detachments like the one with whom I am loading equipment with can do their little thing as well. Helps in the long run. This whole concept of a 'junket' is labeled a 'short cruise' and is typically characterized by spending more time tied to a pier in some other exotic locale and consuming beer than actual cruising. Hence, the critical word indicative of a length of time in this case, short. This wasn't really the point of anything since we managed to lose a duty van.

What happened was that we left two of the two vans that we had taken down to the boat on the pier, next to the boat. Logical place to leave a duty van if you ask me, which you did not but I told you anyway. Therefore, as we were leaving the Evil Floating Vacation, quite full of piss and vinegar after packing all of our shit away quite tidily and then surviving lunch, we are somewhat shocked to find one of the two vans missing. This is not normal. As a matter of fact, I would be tempted to say that this was a sensation bordering on the sublime. How many times have you ever heard of someone pilfering a duty van? Duty, (read: U.S. Government, For Official Use Only and No Smoking,) vans are notorious for being under powered, abused, disrespected in every form imaginable. Some of which aren't for mention even in the darkest, most private parts of the mind, meaning they are generally beaten until they explode. At which point, (explosion,) we excitedly call Public Works. In very official sounding hushed and stern tones about finding the irresponsible bastards that exploded the van we communicate to them some dire and improbable yarn, over the matters of national security which require unexploded vans right this second. PWC being one of the most efficient organizations overseen by the U.S. Navy then tow it away mere hours later. Unless it is illegally parked, in which event it has probably already in the impound yard accruing fines eventually equivalent to the Gross National Product of Japan.

Strange thing about the military, we are constantly paying for things which the U.S. Government has already paid. For instance, if we require a hammer we pay the Base Supply Department, (actually staffed by the authors of the Tax Code,) has the squadron's supply department cough up 'funding' after a sort for two tons of floor tile. Don't laugh, this happens. I was once witness to an event where someone failed to check a single digit against fourteen others. Resulting from what should have been a minor clerical error, we received a washer that makes up part of the seal that goes around the end of a water brake for a steam catapult on an aircraft carrier. It weighed 450 pounds, was about six inches thick, four feet in diameter and amazingly enough, nicely rusted when we opened the box. Now what use the main supply depot thought a building, (Which does not go anywhere.) housing a squadron of helicopters, (Which do not under any legitimate circumstances get catapulted anywhere.) would need for a giant washer, (Up until this point I had not seen a washer of quite this magnitude, nor have I since.) belonging to a steam catapult, (Which they are hopefully aware it would be patently ridiculous for us to have in the first place.) I do not know.

After being towed as gently and unobtrusively as is not possible, PWC will then attempt repair of the vehicle. We have determined, through hours of informed and stridently intellectual debate, that 'repair' constitutes half-ass throwing tools at the defunct vehicle for several days until it goes forwards and sort of backwards at oblique angles and asinine speeds. Relief should come when I tell you that we then straight away go back to breaking the thing again following it's return. After of course making the requisite promises not to allow anything of this nature to happen again.

However, in this case calling PWC would accomplish nothing as they don't deal with lost vehicles, Base Security (the fuzz, yo,) deals with such crises instead. Since calling Base Security (the fuzz, yo,) means that they will show up, arrest someone, and then take them away just to have something to do, we very much wish to avoid making just such a telephone call. (It doesn't matter if the person that they arrest had anything to do with the subject of the phone call, they sort of drive up and yank someone into the squad car by their collar and that's that.) Discarding the obvious help in the form of random incarceration followed by interrogation by Petty Officer Joe Friday, we elect to determine if we can find the van on our own with no outside aid. It's sort of like 'Who Want's to be a Millionaire' only it has a verifiable end goal, a point, and it's not likely to induce vomiting in normal adult humans. That and Regis isn't likely to ask you if you would prefer to call someone you know working in a chop shop to 'find' a/the/any van for you. (In addition to the aforementioned, the show would probably titled: 'Who Doesn't Want to Forfeit Two Months Pay and Spend Thirty Days in the Restricted Barracks?') Heading toward our laudable goal like so much television guided ordinance, we set about proceeding on the grand and vast adventure known more simply in certain circles as: 'Seventeen People Making a Huge and Complicated Mess'. (I have heard rumors I made up just now for artistic effect that there is a German independent film with the same title about to be released. The producers are attempting to highlight the surreal qualities innate to looking for missing cars. I believe they are hoping to evoke similar feelings that 'Run Lola Run' brought to the collective attention concerning the dire need for money, decent German trance, and odd introspective introductions strongly smacking of soccer.) The first thing that happened was that we stood around for about ten minutes having this conversation:

"Where's the goddamn van?" Mutters the irate Brian to no one in particular.
"I dunno where the fucking van is. Where'd you leave the goddamn thing?" Says Yurei to Airman O'Malley, who is also somewhat irate and the lowest ranking person standing on the pier.
"RIGHT FUCKING HERE. I SWEAR IT WAS RIGHT FUCKING HERE." Screams Airman O'Malley, who is rapidly realizing that he is going to have to pay for van, duty, Dodge, white in color, unleaded fuel only, quantity one, which he signed for.
"Then where the fuck did it go?" Says Brian. Brian's brain seems to be stuck skipping like a Brian Eno record with a chunk missing.
"How the fuck am I supposed to know? It was right here…" Drivels AN O'Malley, who is currently mentally tallying the total cost of van, duty, Dodge, white in color, unleaded fuel only, quantity one.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now the van is not here." Says Brian who after a jarring blow delivered by a random cosmic particle is now functioning, (somewhat,) again.
"YES, I BELIEVE WE HAVE ESTABLISHED THAT THE FUCKING VAN IS NOT HERE." Screams Yurei, who is getting thoroughly irritated with the whole situation.
"Man, I swear the van was right FUCKING here the last time I saw it." Repeats AN O'Malley.
"Dude, it was here." AN Hon, (who we call Han Solo,) speaks to lend credence to the somewhat debated lamentations of Airman O'Malley. "I saw him park it."
"Shut up." Says Yurei.
"Why are you telling me to shut up? I'm not the one who lost the van." States Hon in a firm and somewhat paternal tone.
"Hey man, where the fuck is the van at?" Asks Shannon, who, despite having heard the entire conversation thus far has apparently come to the conclusion that if he asks the question, that someone may produce a different answer.
"I dunno." Says O'Reilly. "I left it right there. Now it's not there."
"We've fucking been through this." Yurei stares at the sun and prays to be mercifully crushed by a falling airliner part. "The goddamn van ISN'T FUCKING HERE."
"I know that. All I am trying to say, is that I parked it here." Reiterates AN O'Malley. "Shit."
"Look, O'Malley, go ask the fucking watch where the ship's van is." Brian states firmly.
"Why?" O'Malley asks in a plaintive voice.
"Maybe they took ours by mistake." Says Brian.
"But I have the keys." Says O'Malley meekly.
"Fuck!" Yurei says happily.
"Goddammit!" Says Brian.
"Fuck!" Yurei states happily again, mainly for effect.
"Shit shit bitch!" Says Brian, to whom he is speaking is not clear. Like Yurei, he is probably doing this mainly to achieve some form of catharsis with the current quandary. The amount of catharsis achieved in this action is not enough, so Brian's linguistics center vomits forth another: "Goddammit!" just for good measure.
"O'Malley…" Donnell begins to say something else and then just settles for a short laugh and, "shit!"
"Shit!" Conclusively adds the Chief, who by now is beginning to become a little peevish after having watched the progress of the extensive and thorough investigation thus far into the whereabouts of the van. "VANS DON'T JUST FUCKING DISAPPEAR!"
"Whaddya want me to do Chief? It's not here!" Brian whines.
"FIND THE FUCKING VAN! WHAT DO YOU THINK!" The Chief says. Mainly this is addressed to all seventeen people standing around so that we figure out what to do, versus a specific person. This is mainly what the Chief is there for anyhow, getting us to make forward progress through the worst of difficulties by offering constructive criticism and strong leadership. Yes sirree, without Chief, I think we would probably be still there stuck in the same conversation.
"O'MALLEY!" Yells Brian.
"Yes?" Asks the unaware Airman O'Malley.
"Find the goddamn van!" Brian says in a booming voice, not unlike that of god himself.
"But. Uhh…" O'Malley yammers incoherently. "Uhh, I dunno where it is."

For the sake of not decreasing the total confidence in our armed forces below where it is now I will not relate how long we went around and around with the van thing. Eventually it is determined through great mental effort that the almost improbable theory that some van keys may indeed fit other vans may indeed have some basis in fact. This leads to the inferred conclusion that if the same hypothetical key fits two theoretical vans that it may well indeed be within the realm of scientific method to conclude that someone may have inadvertently gaffled our van by mistake. There is a great and huge too-do about who is going to stay and wait for the ship's duty driver who has gone to "supply" under the auspices of being on a "parts run." The entire det believes this to be smacking of great wads of bullshit and thinks that someone should be shot and promptly for the crime of taking off with our van. We, after more debate, elect Brian and O'Malley to stay and wait for the van to return from "supply" so that the investigation of van myth and minutiae can continue elsewhere.

It is later revealed that the Dodge Motor Company in their infinite wisdom and somewhat eagerness to fulfill a government contract settled on making n vans with the same key. I assume that they were banking on the fact that no one would place two vans that looked exactly alike with similar keys near each other where they could be confused and then pilfered. I hope that this was the case and not simply an act of gross stupidity. It was probably just stupidity. At any rate, the whole experience has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that humans can suffer from the halting problem.

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