Another Weekend in the Trenches #4

Yet another drill weekend has come and gone.  This one was slightly special, in that it marked my five year anniversary in the military.  I now have one year remaining on my contract.  If I was contemplating getting out of the army, which I’m really not, my decision would have been firmly made after this awkward weekend.

I will always contend that I love the army and the army loves me, but there are times when I really hate the army.  I think this weekend is one of those times that I just cannot stand being in the army.  I did try to get out of half of this weekend’s drill.  Forget about the fact that I’m drilling on my birthday, but I really needed to finish moving.  I can’t do it this week because I’ll be out of town.  Yes, I know lack of planning and blah blah blah, but since we weren’t scheduled to be doing anything of any significance, I thought it might be easy to split train.  I asked to come in on Friday and help prep for drill, which they always need help, in exchange of having Sunday off.  That did not work.  I found out that it was thanks to a few idiots.  Someone, apparently, decided that rather than going through their chain of command, they would just email the commander directly.  Because he always has time to read emails from junior enlisted soldiers and all of their problems.  Oh well.  It’s done and no sense in complaining about it–except for the fact that I can.

So Saturday started off kind of good, but the army is well known for its ability to go from sugar to shit in 60 seconds.  We had this long ass first formation because someone got promoted.  I would like to discuss how I felt about that, but I won’t because Big Brother is always watching.  Just know that I am perturbed.  Anyway, after the promotion, I felt that we were given clear instructions on what were supposed to be doing that day.  I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, maybe I heard something wrong.  That could be quite possible because I do happen to zone out when we’re in formation.  My feet always start hurting and then I start noticing the dandruff in back of a certain sergeant’s head and then the horrible smell emanating from another sergeant, who just happens to be a field worker, starts wafting up from the squad behind me and I tend to zone out of whatever is going on.  But I could have sworn I heard very specific instructions.  Like I said, I could be wrong.

The instructions involved manual labour, which I do not do.  I didn’t sit through all these years of college and months and months of military school and investigators prying into my personal life so that I could become a construction worker.  Whenever they start talking about building things, cleaning things, anything that involves illegal immigrant work, I find something better to do.  There’s always something else to volunteer for and I did.  So while everybody else was outside in the hot ass sun pitching tents like the slave trade had suddenly reopened, I was doing office work.  But after lunch, I couldn’t come up with anymore excuses so I had to participate.  So this is where my confusion sets in.  I go outside to see what is going on and I see that they have already put up the tent.  We got these big stupid tents a few months ago and I understood the instructions to be, “put up the tent, put the systems inside the tent, and we’ll go from there.”  Once again, I will admit that I could have heard things wrong.

Nowhere in the instructions did I hear, “Put up the tent.  Move the tent to one side of the parking lot.  Move the tent to the other side of the parking lot.  Move the tent back.  Then dismantle the tent.”

I didn’t hear that, but for some reason that is precisely what happened.  This is because Sergeant Ratchett was in charge.  I’m Sergeant Ratchett is a very nice person outside of uniform, but the day she got that rocker, something must have clicked in her brain because she just became a totally different person.  Oh, don’t get me wrong she has always been one slice short of a fully baked pie, but it’s like someone used a pound of salt, rather than sugar, to half-bake her ass.  Someone told me that she has a problem with black females.  I have not been a party to this.  She tends to treat me with a long-handled stick.  From afar she will issue an instruction if she sees something, but she has never really approached me.  I notice that she does this with several other females, and interestingly enough, it is all the females that will punch her in the face (not literally).  Anyway, I have never met someone is as unintelligent as she is.  Added to her lack of intelligence, you can add no common sense whatsoever, the inability to listen, a complete disregard for others’ opinions and a self-absorbed sense of misguided superiority.  This is the making of a disaster.

I noticed that other sergeants were becoming frustrated with her because she just simply refused to listen to any of their suggestions.  It wasn’t as if they were trying to take command away from her, or undermine her authority.  I don’t think that all.  The two sergeants I observed trying to assist her are not the male chauvinist-you stupid female-let me handle it because I’m a male-type of sergeants.  They are just sergeants who want to get the work done, get it done fast and get it done right.  Apparently, she missed that memo.

So, it is 75 degrees out.  Not very hot, but there is no shade and no cloud cover so after awhile, things just start heating up, plus we were dragging a 500 pound tent from one end of the parking lot to the next.  I don’t know why we were doing this.  In the past, we haven’t had anything to do, we are sometimes given busy work, but this was ridiculous.  I honestly do not think that this is what they had in mind.  But I’m just a low-level idiot, so what do I know.  So, the tent was already up.  Then she wanted to turn the tent around.  We turned the tent around.  She wanted some trailers moved, so the trailers were moved.  Then she wanted the tent back in its original position.  We put the tent back in its original position.  Then she wanted it turned around again.  We turn it around.

After all this is accomplished, another sergeant comes out and says, “Tear it down.  You have 15 minutes.”  I seriously thought he was joking.  He is not really known for his jokes but he was standing with another sergeant who does like to goof off, and so I was like, yeah, he put him up to it.  That is why I did not immediately get to work because I kept waiting for him to be like, “SIKE!” only it never happened.  Many times when I become upset, I go within myself.  I become very cold-minded and I begin plotted death and destruction.  Other times when I become upset, I blow up.  If I choose to blow up, that means I am super-duper pissed off and you should expect some type of violent reaction.

That is how I felt.  If I had had the keys to any of those vehicles back there, I would have run someone over.  I do not like doing things that wastes time, causes unnecessary stress, or is in some way wasteful or useless.  I felt like that whole exercise was completely pointless and I hate feeling like that.  Just because I am lower enlisted, my time is just as valuable as anybody else’s.  I don’t know what it was like for other people, but basic training was one of the worst experiences of my life.  I feel like I did not go through all of that bullshit, heart ache and stress just so I could move a fucking tent around in a parking lot for an afternoon.  If that is the case, stuff me in the back of a fucking connex and ship me off to some farm and I’ll pick fucking fruit for the rest of my life; at least it’ll have more purpose.  Someone will actually eat the goddamn fruit, as opposed to that stupid ass tent that just got folded back up in its gay ass bag to sit on the back of a truck somewhere.

What made me even more irritated is that we had some important briefings to attend and that is the reason for the rushing we did to get the damn tent down.  I do not understand our unit at all.  If we have important briefings, why don’t these fucking briefings occur in the beginning of the day when all troops are present?  Since they are so important.  I feel like the information they gave to us was important but too bad half the class had to leave to go take a PT test.  Yes, the PT is important too, but since you know you have PT in the evening, important shit should come in the beginning of the day.  Moving a fucking tent is not important.  Everything they put out in that brief was important and many of my peers had to get second hand information because they missed it.  Because they spent the first part of the day putting up a goddamn tent, moving a goddamn tent, and then taking down a goddamn tent.

Can you tell I’m really annoyed by the tent?  Don’t be surprised if you find out the tent has been set on fire.

So after the briefing, which lasted until almost 530, everyone of rank disappeared leaving the rest of us standing around like, hmm, what to do next.  There was no final formation, but nobody bothered to tell us that, so we were just standing in formation like assholes.

If it weren’t for the fact that the Mafia was going out to dinner for the May birthday celebration, I would have gone home fucking pissed.

I thought I would be exhausted from staying up late Saturday night, but it turned out to be not so bad.  Sunday was not quite as horrible as Saturday, but in another way, it was actually worse.  Allow me to explain.

So, I think I will be officially, and at long fucking last, removed from the section I was in.  I have been begging for this almost since the day it happened four years ago.  I don’t want to actually confirm this until it happens, but just the prospect of finally being moved is enough to make me shit myself.

The task for the day was to do some briefing.  Give us a chance to learn how to research, analyse and brief.  We were all separated into teams and assigned a topic and told to get out there and put together a brief.  So, this is what I really hate about the army sometimes, especially the reserve components.  Reserve and National Guard is different because we’re all bringing something different to the table.  We’re bringing our civilian lives here.  While some of us may be low in rank army wise, that doesn’t mean we’re low on intelligence or low on experience.  There are people in the unit that may just be an E4 but in their civilian job they really are on top.  The army doesn’t take that into account and that really annoys me.  We’ve got all these college educated people and they are treated like incompetent retards because they’re just an E4 or whatever.

Each group had an E6, an E5 and a whole bunch of junior soldiers.  The E6 was basically a figurehead, coming around to make sure that everything going smoothly while the E5 is the one who is actually in charge and the E4s are the ones doing all the work.  Well, my E6 decided that she had more important things to do, but before she disappeared into the wild blue yonder, she came over and assigned who she wanted to be in charge of what.  Okay, great, well, if you want this to be a learning experience we should all work together, and if you want it to be good, you should assign people who actually know what they’re doing to do the job.  But I guess I’m making too much sense.   Then she left and she probably didn’t even give a damn because I never saw her again.  Ever.  For the rest of the day.

We start researching and this is the sort of thing I really get into.  History is my favourite subject.  Geography and culture is right behind.  I get a kick out of researching and analysing.  I could have been there all day long looking up stuff, reading facts and figures, getting down into the most minute details, and just be way off topic.  That’s what happens when I work on something I enjoy.  My personality flaw is that I like to take charge because I am a perfectionist.  I don’t like working in teams because I want to do things perfectly and I want to labour over every little detail and just take my time like I’m caring for an infant.  Right away, the sergeant in charge was like, “You’re not going to be here writing a dissertation.”  Okay, fine, I understand we only have like 10 minutes to brief.  I feel like you can’t even introduce the topic in ten minutes, but I’ll get over it.

Next I wanted to help put the brief together, but since our absentee E6 already assigned someone to do it, he did not want my help, or anybody’s help, for that matter.  He did everything.  Fine.  What do I do when people do not do what I want them to?  I leave.  I wrote my section and handed in my research, then I left to go goof off.  This is why I did not do well in college.  I have an attention span problem.  If I am not being properly tended like how you have to do with small children, I get bored and start goofing off.  I am capable of working, but not capable of sitting around watching someone else work, especially when I want to work.

I went outside to talk with SGM.  He and I had a very long, very intense discussion about my military career.  He really gave me some superb information and some excellent advice, but more on that later.

I go back to the computer room to see if anything needs to be done.  I’m pretty much told that my assistance is not required.  So I go sit down and goof off on Facebook for a little while and then it is our turn to brief.  I didn’t even get a chance to look at our brief before we went into the room.  I guess it’s a good thing that I hadn’t because I would have shit myself and refused to go in there.  First of all, I do this for a living.  So I really do know what I’m doing.  My job is nothing but writing and briefs and reports and packages and all kinds of WRITTEN material.  I edit and WRITE, WRITE and edit for a living.  I’ve been doing it for a very long time, so I kind of know what I’m doing, but apparently that meant absolutely nothing.  When I saw our brief for the very first time I was like, Oh my God.  What the hell?


The briefing begins and it is nothing but a train wreck from the beginning.  Not only did we crash and burn, but we crashed, burned, detonated on impact, exploded, disintegrated into tiny little particles, and then those particles were vapourised.

That is how bad it was.  That was just the actual slideshow presentation, that wasn’t even the actual presenters.  Some of us haven’t had as much experience as others, so I am not even going to say anything about that.  The one person in our group who hasn’t had much experience in briefing was WAAAAAAAY better than the two people who are supposed to be experienced professionals.  At least when she got up there, she wasn’t all, “Uhm… yeah, uhm….er… yeah, uhm, cuz…. uhm….”  At least when she got up there, she stood at parade rest, had some kind of military bearing about her and looked like a normal human being instead of looking like a fucking jackass, like, well, I won’t be naming any names.  But let’s just say he was the one the E6 wanted to be in charge of putting the whole thing together.  *eyeroll*

We didn’t even get halfway through our presentation before we were told to stop, shut the hell up and get the fuck out.  They wanted us to redo our whole slide show presentation, get a fucking clue and let’s try that again.  I was so humiliated.  I don’t like being part of things that suck.  If I make a mistake or do something dumb, then I want it to be the reason I fail.  I don’t want to fail because someone else failed.  That is why I dislike working in groups.  You have to deal with losers.

So, our failure, does it change anything?  No, it doesn’t.  When we go back to work on our presentation, do I get to assist and point out a few things that need correcting?  No.  The person who put that shitty abomination of a brief together wanted to blame everybody else.  Then he said, “Oh, well they just wanted to be extra picky about everything.”  No, they had valid reasons.  Our presentation looked like one of my blog posts.  My blog posts are notoriously long-winded and that is the reason why they do not make good power point presentations, which are supposed to be short and fucking sweet.  Not looking like the damn Constitution.  Then the gay ass graphics.  No cover page.  Didn’t even bother putting our names on it.  No date.  No nothing.  It was just balls.

We go back in to do our brief again and it was a little bit better, but they had to end it with a fucking lame ass graphic on the very last page.  I don’t know who did it, but I never saw it so I couldn’t tell them that it was a bad idea.  What happened?  We got ate up for it.  *eyeroll*

Except for my deep discussion with SGM and going out with the Mafia and having 7 dinner parties in a row with my friends for my birthday, everything about this weekend sucked.  I could have done without all that.  Don’t be surprised when I don’t show up for June and you find out I ran away to Canada.

The end.


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