So Eric, were you ever convicted of a federal offense on your mission?
Convicted? No. Never convicted.
I was in the midst of training a new missionary, and one morning was taking a shower, minding my own business. All of a sudden my greeny came into the bathroom and dumped a large bowl of ice cubes into the tub. I was faced with a quick decision. Either jump out of the tub wet and naked to my companion’s laughter, or stay in the tub like a martyr and finish my shower ankle deep in ice cubes. I took the martyr route.
As I finished my preparations for the morning I began wondering how I might get back at this whipper-snapper. I looked around, and saw his bottle of scope mouthwash sitting on a shelf right next to my bottle of Mennen after-shave. I observed that they were exactly the same color. Hmmmm. I dumped out a significant portion of his mouthwash and replaced it with the after shave. And waited.
Sure enough when he was about done getting ready the sure sign of gagging, yelling and spitting could be heard. Next to a golf ball hitting the bottom of the cup after a putt, or the net snapping after a jump shot, this was one of the sweetest sounds I have ever heard.
The game was on.
Over the next couple of weeks a practical joke war waged in our apartment. Most of them have since been forgotten. I am a little competitive, and I was determined not to lose. News of transfers came and I was going to be headed out. Then I got an idea. A wonderful idea. T terribly, horribly, wonderful idea. I would temporarily transfer his mail.
It was perfect. There was a stake missionary who lived not far away, I could forward it to him. I would just pick up two mail transfer forms. One for me and one for him. A forged signature, and victory would be mine. I admit to having a spiritually guilty feeling as I was doing this. Something like ‘DON’T’, or something. I don’t know, it was to good not to go through with. So I did it.
Time went on, and I had mostly forgotten about the whole thing. A few months later I bumped into my trainee at a zone conference. I came up to him all smiles, ‘hi, how ya doin?’ He did not seem at all pleased to see me.
‘You don’t know how lucky you are Nielson’, he said something in his expression – resentment or anger. ‘What do you mean?’ I asked, really not knowing what he was talking about.
He told me that I had forwarded his mail without telling anybody, and that it was a federal offense. When he went to the post office to get things straightened out they asked him if he wanted to press charges. Wouldn’t that have been something? He could have ‘won’ big time. But he didn’t.
I don’t know what would have happened if he had pressed charges. Post office people tend to take this stuff seriously sometimes don’t they? Could I have been sent home? Or to jail? A large fine? All three? Yikes. I consider this the dumbest thing I did on my mission. Elder Howell, if you are out there somewhere, I’m sorry for the whole mail thing. And thanks for not turning me in.
So if anyone asks me if I was ever convicted of a federal offense on my mission I can say:
Convicted? No. Never convicted.
There is another dumb missionary story about somebody else that I tell here.