by 13 Stoploss
In Basic Training, we all had a special countdown to graduation that went something like “eighteen and a wakeup.” Sure, it really meant nineteen, but the optimistic viewpoint was that the last day was really nothing more than waking up and getting the hell out.
An hour before our last formation, so many years ago, I was hanging around in my Class A’s, with the rest of my platoon in our bay, just waiting for the bus. Drill Sergeant Manley walked into the bay, and we just sat there. For some reason, we all hesitated to yell “AT EASE,” and instead of snapping up, into parade rest, I noticed everyone had hardly flinched.
Sensing our hesitancy, Drill Sergeant just stood there, staring at us, wondering whether a last-hour smoke-session to teach us some respect was worth the effort. At that moment, some kid asked him for some advice in our transition into the “real Army.”
He sighed, gave us a disgusted, half-interested look, and then spit into his dip cup before going into a long-winded rant on how, in his three years as a DI, we were the most fucked-up platoon he has ever had. Pretty standard, I suppose. Probably the same speech he gave to every rotation. But before heading out, there were a few moments in his speech where he softened up. It seemed like he was pressing. The man was generally well received, and often shat out nuggets of inspiration on a whim. But this one was different. It was a warning, and it was awkward.
Today felt a lot like that last hour in Basic Training. In History this morning, Professor W played the last half of a documentary on 9/11 called “Zero.” Afterward, there were the same “sighs,” and a few last words. It dragged on, but we sat silently in our seats, taking in the words of a man we all respected and had learned a great deal from. It was the last day of lecture for the semester, but not a relief. I still have a lot hanging over my shoulders at the moment, with several finals next week, and a bachelor party and wedding to attend before Monday. From there, it’s smooth sailing until August, when a new addition to the 13 Family is birthed. But, I suppose the rambling point of this whole post is that, in my three semesters in school since leaving the greens, I often find myself relating current experiences to those I had while in the Army.
“It’s like this one time in the Army…”
And it goes like that often; enough so, that I feel like I have nothing else to offer.