Friday, December 17, 2010

Volunteer or Voluntold?

So the hours passed by. Just sitting there watching the paint dry and listening to the random conversations going on around me. It was the usual banter you'll hear from any group of young Army guys. The girls the met in the city on the weekend or days of leave, the girls who were waiting for them, the things they want to do to girls they haven't met, and ways of acquiring more female access. So, in retrospect pretty much the same thing any group of guys do when they're deprived of the fairer sex.

For most of the recruits the army was just an extension of high school. They either barely passed or had dropped out and signed up. Academia wasn't for everyone and the only difference for the guys who dropped out was they didn't have parents they wanted to appease. Now this isn't to say that these were slack jaw yokels straight out of the woods. Most of them knew for a long time school wasn't for them and that another class in required ocean biology wasn't going to transfer well into the high school graduate job market. I've yet to hear a carpenter or plumber discuss the migration patterns of the bottle nose dolphin and those guys make good bank A lot of them were just guys looking to fulfill their boyhood fantasy, a couple guys off the farms in Northern Ontario, and some guys who just wanted a change or get away from something in their life. Nobody really asked questions about your previous life, you were judged by how you worked and the reputation that you had or preceded you.


The Warrant walked in carrying a piece of paper with James his clerk at his flank.

"Relax, relax. OK listen up. We got a tasking here for the kitchen. Any takers?" This of course was said hypothetically.

The room was quiet. I looked around and made eye-contact with a few others doing the same thing. So I did what I thought was expected of me and raised my hand.
"OK you. What's your name?" He said in my direction. Man, we'd just met the same day and he'd forgotten my name already?
"Uh...Private Tango...." an awkward moment of silence. Shit! I thought immediately to my training "Private Tango, WARRANT!" It's often overlooked the importance of how you address someone. Especially when they're your boss.
"That's better" he quickly snapped.
"Great" I thought. Making friends already.
"Private Dash, You're going too. Here's the email laying out all the info you need as well as the P.O.C. (Point of Contact)." He handed it to James who handed it to us as we made our way to the front of the class. But just as he was walking towards the door he snapped right around 180 degrees and faced the rest of the platoon.
"And the next FU**ING time I ask for volunteers! I better see a sea of FU**ING hands in the air like a god-damn AC/DC Concert!"
He then stormed out back to the administrative office. Leaving us to ponder about our own motivation and willingness to succeed. But for a minority the guys this point was lost all their was a faint murmur in the back wondering "Who's AC/DC?".

Dash and I marched our way out of the building in file one behind the other all the way to the parking lot, but more importantly out of sight of anyone who could see us stop marching. We sauntered over to his van as I didn't have any transportation of my own and we made our way to the Officers Mess (which is a fancy name for kitchen/bar in military speak). He parked on the side and prior to us reporting to the P.O.C. I asked if I could "pop a smoke?" which is military slang for have a cigarette (popping smoke also refers to setting off a smoke canister/"bomb").

He had no objections as we arrived well prior to our designated time for our tasking so could spare the  request. So we made our way to the local "smoke hut", removed our berets as having them on subjects us to the ever argued and debated "Should I or shouldn't I salute?" brain trauma that most new recruits subject themselves too. Also, we were beside a hive for junior officers looking for some ego padding.  Now smoke breaks are quite common in the military, even more-so in a "holding platoon" as PAT platoon was officially classified. However, having your workplace centrally located in a military school that requires saluting, marching, and a fair distance march to the designated smoke area tries even the experienced soldiers temperance.

Dash and I talked and traded the usual banter learning where we were from, why we got in, and where did we hope to go once our training was complete. I found he was a local guy growing up in the Maritimes taking some college but needing a steady job to provided for his wife and kids. I  told my own story, editing the schooling part of my life as I'd encountered the some apprehension because of it prior to arriving in Gagetown. But Dash seemed like an alright guy just looking out for his family. I relished the final draws on my cigarette, extinguished it, and we made our way into the officer's mess.

Adorn with plaques, trophies, and mounted s(known as the "Snake Pit" among junior officers) complete with pool table on the far end of the mess.

We quickly asked a civilian bar tender who had no stake in our offset presence there where we could find the Master Corporal we were to report to. She directed us to the back kitchen where we waited as she found him. He quickly made his way to us as we gave him a formal "Master Corporal!" in acknowledgement.
"Hey guys, here come with me" He escorted us down a flight of stairs to what seemed like a gigantic storage room.
"OK, first off. Knock off that Master Corporal shit when you're around here. Up in front of the brass the rules are in effect, but down here just call me Derek."
"Ok...uh...Derek" We both managed to stammer out. Our minds exploding at the colloquialness of the previous exchange.
"Pretty much I need you two guys to organize this room for us." He said with a grin on his face.
We then took a second look. This place looked like an outtake from the show "Hoarders" there was so much stuff packed in here with pots, pans, old Christmas and Halloween decorations, Random gym equipment, and a plethora of other old odd ends strewn about scattered everywhere. We had our work cut out for us.

To be continued...


  1. Omg, I just hope this guy wasn't serious about not knowing AC/DC. Looks like it's kinda hard but keep it up!

  2. It was a long read but I enjoyed it. It's hard for me to even understand how someone can't even know who AC/DC are

  3. Dude it seems like you had a tough time out there, but thats a very respectable thing.

  4. looking forward to read the rest of it

  5. Great blog, keep it up!

  6. thanks for the insightful look into the Canadian military.

  7. Very enjoyable. Baffling how someone doesn't know AC/DC but meh.

  8. I like reading the slight differences in military terms in your country. Still brings back horribly good memories. :P

  9. LOL i think i learned more about the military in your post more than anything else ive ever read.

  10. Lol that guy has been living in a cave not knowing AC/DC! It must be hard on you guys to clean all that stuff :(

  11. babe in uniform. say no to army :D