Saturday, January 8, 2011
After a Hiatus
So winter came to Gagetown and I spent a lot of early mornings shoveling snow with my other recruits. Although it wasn't everyday I actually was given the discretion on when we worked. However to some that may seem like a license to slack, but in the military it meant that as soon as someone complained or an officer asked some stupid off-hand question to the Sergeant Major (i.e. "RSM doesn't someone look after the walkways in the winter?") it was my ass who would be in shit. So I kept the place pretty free of snow and ice for a couple months. Eventually though our winter-leave came which was about 3.5 weeks off with pay. Pretty good deal since we weren't actually "essential personnel" in the military school.
So I got to go back home and visit with family. So of course the usual questions started of how hard were my courses, who was my boss, how was it going, did I like the base, etc. Of course you build up a repertoire of canned answers to these types of things. It happened when I went to University where my standard answer was "They make us read a lot." My old man used to be in so he chuckled at some stories and just nodded at others grumbling "Yup they'll do that" or "Ha ha, I remember when I blah blah blah...". I grew up in the military family so there was nothing too surprising for them, it was mostly friends and extended family who wanted the full details.
But honestly, it's one of those experiences that can't be summed up in a quick answer because half of Army life is just living in the environment. Especially one with as many dudes as the base I was on. I always referenced it to this analogy when describing it to my civi friends:
"Wanna know what it's like in the combat arms?"
"Ok. Remember how we always laughed at those dumb meat head guys in high school?"
"Ha Ha, yeah."
"Yeah funny right. Except the majority of them went to the Army....and now they're my boss. And they haven't really changed, except someone told them they were important."
A blanket statement I know. But the majority of guys giving out the unnecessary shit in the military are those same douche bags and because of that you tend to remember them better. Even now my best friends are military guys or ex-military guys. Why? Because they understand what I went through and I understand what they went through. Plus there is a standard you know they achieved. When a guy talks shit on the street their is a good chance he can't back it up, but with a military guy (especially the Army) you know he can or at least fail trying his damnedest.
One of the thing that unites military members is that they've all been broken at one point. Physically and mentally. No matter how many push ups you can do, someone will make you do them and then ask for more, and then berate you when you can't. This will go on for a while and the deprivation of positive chants, motivational posters, a quite place to masturbate, a bed that isn't surrounded by 3 or guys, a meal not prepared in a mess, or even a cool beer or relaxing smoke to take the edge off will add up real fucking fast. But the real trait of a combat arms soldier is that they'll keep coming back for more. Like in Fight Club when Tyler Durden gets the shit kicked out of him by Lou "Owner of Lou's Bar" and he keeps asking/taunting him for more. Kinda like that. Keep going until all you can do is still make them pissed off.
But going home is always nice, it removes from from the military universe of kinda gets you back to normal. It's nice being in a town where no one knows what unit/school you're from, or that your shaved head means you're a recruit, that being a man in uniform actual holds a little sexual appeal. So it's nice. Not much happened on that leave. A relative died and I went to the funeral, and I bought my first car with a credit line gladly extended when they saw where my checks were coming from. So I recharged for a bit, ate too much "fat pills" (aka cake, chocolate). Then drove myself back to base to start the waiting game all over again. By this time I was supposed to start in one month in February. As always with a military plan, it changed pretty quick when we got on ground.
To cap it all off, here's some benefits of compulsory service in a country. Everyone serves....even.....