I meant to post this last week. And then… the world slipped into crazy mode. At the time I would have posted this I wasn’t sure I would be able to survive over the next month. Last Friday we found out that Michigan schools would be shut down at least into the mid point of April. That kind of puts a damper on how you view the world.
What follows is thoughts I had had earlier in the week. And oddly, in a way it is a build up to even more deeper introspection as I sit at home waiting for the zombie apocalypse. Sadly, I don’t see it coming from this pandemic, so maybe we have hope for the next one.
When you spend hours at a time on the road, especially driving the same route all the time, your mind tends to wander a bit. So, this is going to take a bit to work into the meat but we’re used to that too.
Let’s kick off with the thought that my birthday came and went recently. But I had these thoughts a day or so before my birthday. Also there is all the news media stuff about the outbreak of Covid 19 (corona virus). And both of these bits of information are not mutually exclusive. But they had their moments that added to the final reflection. See, the big thing now is washing our hands and not touching our face.
In boot camp one of the big things about discipline is not touching your face. And I first joined the Marines about a month after my 17th birthday. How long ago that was, we are not going to get into right now. It isn’t relevant to this situation and I really don’t need a reminder of how old I am (but I am still not 50).
Anyway, so in these thoughts I remembered a moment that I haven’t thought about in a long time. See, I had a couple friends who went to Army boot camp a few months after I went into the Marines. These two jokers decided it would be a good idea to send me a letter while I was still in boot camp. Mind you, it wasn’t really a letter.
It happened to be during mess and maintenance week that their “letter” arrived. I was on maintenance detail which meant we weren’t attached to our normal drill instructors. Instead one of the ones I answered to at the time was from platoon 1037 (I was in Bravo Company Platoon 1039). This guy was what I always thought of as a breaking drill instructor.
I don’t know if that is a real term but it kind of describes what it is these drill instructors did. They tended to be the junior drill instructor and their sole purpose was to be the meanest, toughest, and loudest drill instructor the recruits had to face. Their duty nights consisted of all sorts of games to break spirits and such.
So this drill instructor calls me to the common area of the squad bay. We are the only people inside at the time. I am standing at attention in front of him and can see he has an envelope in his hand. He hands it to me and tells me to open it.
There is something definitely inside the envelope; odd shape and can’t quite tell what it is, but I have a guess. Sure enough, inside is a comb. Now you have to picture this. I have pretty much no hair. It has grown out to Marine corp regulations but we are having weekly hair cuts to keep it recruit short.
He asks “What the hell is?”
“Sir, it’s a comb sir!” And yes I am still at almost full attention. I do have the envelope in one hand and the comb in another. There is no letter at all, just the comb.
“Why the fuck did they send you a comb?”
“Sir, this private believes it to be a joke sir!”
And he is just standing there staring me down. There might have been a few more words exchanged but all I can remember right now is that initial part of it and the eternity he spent staring me down. Of course, there is nothing you can do, just hope that you don’t do anything that will bring holy hell on top of you.
As I look back at it, I am quite certain he spoke with the other drill instructors after he left and they all had a good laugh about it. And yeah, it’s pretty funny now. I sent a message about all this to one of the friends who had conspired for this whole mess when I remembered it recently. Yeah, we both laugh about it now. But, really, you never want to give the drill instructors ammunition.