Hi there. It’s been a while.
I’d like to remind you that I’m no boy scout. Not to imply that I only play by my own rules, scoff at authority, or exhibit other “dangerous” or un-boyscout-like behavior, but rather that I lack certain useful skills that boy scouts usually possess. Today it was Knot-tying. Basic fucking knot-tying. I had a hole in my coveralls and was told that it needed to be fixed over this weekend. “Sewing isn’t that hard,” I thought, naively. With the Marine Corps sewing kit I was able to enrage and exhaust myself within only a few minutes. GET IN THE GOD DAMN NEEDLE. Quick, turn on the Enya Pandora station, if that Orinoco Flow can’t soothe your anger at inanimate objects you’re going to end up breaking something important. It looks like shit now, but there’s no hole. I’m done. I need to go to the fucking gym, scratch that, the fucking vending machine will work just as well.
In similar fashion, welding is hard for me because I have no skill. Maybe I had some at one point, perhaps a few weeks ago when we were finishing stick. What I do know is that my performance yesterday, when my class returned to welding after a two and a half weeks of sitting around and taking classes (much more the former), revealed how absolutely terrible I am.
Our final weld test starts on November 6th. It involves plasma cutting a piece of high hard armor plate and reattaching it to simulate a crack, which we then grind out a bevel in and weld back together. We then have to repeat this process on the opposite side. After each weld we grind everything down flat and spray magic dye on which reveals how shitty the weld is. To not go into any more specifics, I’m terrified because the test takes three days to do and there are endless opportunities for us to be dinged points off our final score (you need an 80% or more to pass). I don’t know why I’ve been saying “us,” when really it’s only “me” that I’m worried about. Everyone else in my class seems to get along fine, while my first step (the plasma cut) looks less like a crack and more like finger-painting with Parkinson’s. I don’t have Parkinson’s, just a complete lack of talent.
Thankfully, this is the only thing I’ll be practicing until Nov. 6th. And I get two whole chances to pass. That’s all I need to do in order to keep my dream of graduating in time (Nov. 22nd) alive. Otherwise, I could be stuck here and disgraced until mid-December or later. Up until now I had confidently formed a theory, I would examine the failure rate of the classes ahead of me and designate a particularly incompetent looking trainee as the “canary.” As long as he was getting by fine I could be assured of my own success. However, the class directly in front of us ran into particularly gaseous mine-shaft (keeping the metaphor) and half the class along with my canary failed and barely passed the retake or was dropped back to my class. Now I’m worried as shit.
Also, can’t forget about grinding. I could still always accidentally maim or kill myself with a grinder. I heard a story about some Marine trainee who lost his left nut to a grinder, the other one succumbed to loneliness and passed away shortly after. So, over the next two weeks I can’t help but cross my fingers (or legs). I don't like this. Can I just write an essay instead?