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Tuesday, August 6, 2013


On my way back from the chow hall I walked past a large formation of army trainees (Fort Lee is primarily an army base whose facilities we borrow). Behind the formation was a private standing at parade rest, loudly saying: “ssk!, I’ve been doing everything right-ssk!, I don’t know why I have to-ssk! I’ve been marching correctly and and-“ She was cut off by the other soldier, who interrupted with “now I’ve heard your side of it, if you’d just let me express mine.” There were two things I immediately noticed. The first was her constant use of the sound “ssk” (clicking the tongue on the back of the teeth, often used to express frustration) accompanied with an eye roll. The second and more surprising factor was that she was talking this way to a Staff Sergeant (in the army, but still). Now, I have nothing against the army, each branch is different and interactions between members of branches should be tactful and respectful, one team one fight and so forth. But God damn that is disgustingly soft on discipline. I can’t imagine… A surprisingly relevant scenario happened yesterday that highlighted how wrathful our NCOs can be when treated with any amount of disrespect. We were in formation about to be released for the night when during an announcement by a Sergeant regarding a change to our next PT (from grappling to something less cool) elicited a quiet “ssk” from some idiot PFC. The Sgt proceeded to furiously demand a coherent response from the then trembling PFC as to why he disapproved of the Sgt leading PT. It’s great when the question is unanswerable in terms of being respectful (as in the answer demanded was: because I like PTing with the other Sgt more than you), the Sgt probably knew this, but wanted to make this kid (and the rest of us) squirm. To be fair, the idiot totally deserved it.  After about ten minutes of lecture on how we’re all nasty and disrespectful we were let go. 

This morning was our time to pay for PFC dumbass’s poor conduct. We woke up at around 4:30 and had PT at 5:00, and of course the Sgt had not forgotten the previous night’s encounter. To sum up the experience, my thighs are really sore. At one point we all stood up after what seemed like an hour of doing leg raises and I realized that I had left somewhat of a snow angel on the pavement. No snow, more like a back-and-ass sweat angel but there were striking similarities. Since most everyone else had left comparable effigies I chuckle now when imagining someone walking by shortly afterwards, seeing a long row of sweaty marine back-and-ass sweat angels on the sidewalk. The whole time the Sgt kept asking private dumbass if he was tired yet, the mandatory response is always no (I’ve never figured out this cultural phenomenon), so we kept holding whatever painful wall-sit or leg-raise angle much longer than anyone was comfortable with. I think by the end the Sgt was satisfied with his revenge. I also almost ate shit and died while running through the woods in the dark. This whole story works to make a long and rambling point regarding the difference between army soldiers and Marines. If anything, don’t “ssk” your superiors you fucking Turd Nugget.

On a more anxious note I’ve been tremor-y lately. I’ve never had very steady hands but now when I’m manipulating something small, or under duress I get pretty shaky. I didn’t consider it much of an issue until I thought about how welders work. I’m thinking about this even more now that I had a conversation with a PFC who was dropped from training for (from what I can tell) a similar affliction. He said that medical gave him Beta blockers and blood thinners (since it may be related to high blood-pressure, which I have) and he’s become significantly steadier. I’m proactively going to medical tomorrow to see what they have to say so that I don’t pick up training only to drop out two weeks in when we start on arc-welding and small detail work. Again the next few months of my life are thrown into ambiguity. However, I do know that this anxiety isn’t helping me keep calm hands, or sleep well. Last night I had a nightmare where I went on a date with a SSgt, he didn’t pay for dinner, he just yelled at me.

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