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New Year’s Eve

On December 31st, I was on duty again, standing watch for our unit. On this most festive of nights there was only one sober person in the unit, and that sober person was me. All the others had gotten drunk long ago and were now involving themselves in a massive brawl: chairs flew across the room, bodies were everywhere.

And I separated the warring parties. Or, rather, I tried to do so.

At some point the telephone rang. I made my way through a heap of bodies and flying fists to answer it. After identifying myself, I heard our Zampolit’s voice:

“Well, how’s it going over there?”

“Fine,” I said. “Everyone’s in a huge drunken brawl.”

“I trust they’re not mussying each other up too badly?”

“Oh, of course not...”

“When they get tired and collapse, line them up and congratulate them for me.”

And that’s what I did: when they finally collapsed I lined them up and congratulated them.

December 31, 1975. The day my transfer to the nuclear sub division was signed.

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