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The toasted-bread standoff: Keeping honest men honest

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Pat McNamara

Patrick Arther McNamara is the kind of man whom you have probably seen in the low spot of the grocery store’s parking lot where patrons lazily leave grocery carts out to slowly roll toward his car while he shops, rather than return them to the lot cart oasis. Fretfully, knowing that his car is about to be pounded by a fusillade of $64.00 shopping carts, he presses on – Ye Gads!

Mac was a well-known operator in the B Squadron of the Delta Force. Not a guy with great patience for folks who were dishonest and irresponsible. Hostile to laziness, he was opposed to cleaning up after lazy folks in Ft. Bragg, NC.

One day, we two found ourselves standing together in the breakfast line in our Unit dining hall – he, twirling his mustache with this thumb and pinky – and I, wondering if I should let burgeon forth such a facial spectacle myself. Perhaps I had too much of a baby face, so I thought.

“George… you know what pisses me off more than most things lazy? Guys that put a slice of bread in our toaster here but then are ‘too lazy’ to wait for it so they just take a slice that is ready. Can’t even wait for their own toast, so just take any old body’s toast. Yeah… that gets me to the core, you know?”

Our toaster fed bread slices onto a belt them through a burn housing unit to get them toasted. But Mac had put an end to his quandary… “I now take tiny bites through my bread before I put it in the machine, and then I can recognize it on the plates of the dining dudes here in the chow hall.”

bitten toast slice
Mark your bread before it becomes toast! (Courtesy of author)

He made no compromise yesterday, and it wasn’t going to happen today, but maybe he would finger out his assailant tomorrow if he were observant enough to go back on the vigil of the toaster machine. “We’ll see alright!” Time will be up finally for the toast bandit. We all waited in a posture of mental frenzy to find out who the culprit might be.

We bided our time; on pins and needles we all sat… Mac prowled and patrolled the eating areas of the Mess Hall – tik tok, tik tok…

Bets were made and excitement grew as we all waited for the first Delta Toast Bandit to be pinpointed. It was a big event and a… lunch had (apparently) been thrown in celebration of the day.

And then it happened:

Mac came nose to nose with the toast thief and the thief, unaware of what was happening, flinched: “What’s going on? Is there an issue? What have I done?” And, “What can I do now to correct it?” 

And the first stand-off of the great toast caper was underway.

Related: How to avoid a 500lb bomb blast: A Delta Force philosophy on speed

Marines eating in mess hall
U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Alex Lambert, left, and Staff Sgt. David Perez, with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, test a new menu item, May 13, 2020 at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Christopher A. Madero)

“Hey uh, lieutenant… it appears you have taken my toast there by mistake at the toaster this morning.”

“What, are you nuts? What makes you think it is your bread and your toast that is sitting on my plate.”

“I took a tiny bite from the bread before I put it on the toaster ramp so I could ID it later; you have it there on your plate about to be eaten. It’s how I get to eat the slice of bread that I chose, and not somebody else’s.”

“Somebody else’s… why, that is preposterous! If we all try to mark our slice by tiny bites in the corners of our toast, there will quickly exist a state of madness!”

After a brief moment of thought, it was deduced that this way all slices of bread would be toasted to the diner’s specification.

There was a state of hush that settled out over the land, and Mac saw the proficiency that the toaster provided, and the land flourished. Harmony embraced the chow hall once again and the men could see it. Modern technology was at work there to keep men honest and moving, always moving in the right direction!

Everyone find your toast, hold it close and it will make you an honest man by the way of the Pat Mac toaster honesty model.

By Almighty God and with Honor,

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Feature Image courtesy of Pat McNamara.

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George Hand

Master Sergeant US Army (ret) from the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, The Delta Force. In service, he maintained a high level of proficiency in 6 foreign languages. Post military, George worked as a subcontracter for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on the nuclear test site north of Las Vegas Nevada for 16 years. Currently, George works as an Intelligence Analyst and street operative in the fight against human trafficking. A master cabinet-grade woodworker and master photographer, George is a man of diverse interests and broad talents.