The Motley Crew
It is funny how we perceive time. Some people think it flies and some people think it’s moving too slowly. Fifteen days ago, I felt like those fifteen days would creep by. It seemed like a lifetime to be stuck doing something I didn’t really want to do. Now, those fifteen days are gone and it feels like it just flew right past. It seems a lifetime ago.
It is amazing to me that I actually had a good time in this class. Everything that everyone said just did not happen. There was no screaming and carrying on. It was not like a basic training environment. Yes, there are minor rules that were just dumb but this is the Army and there’s really no getting away from everything that is retarded. Overall, this was a very positive and dare I say, motivating, experience. I hate to say the word “motivating,” or any form thereof, because it has always been very phony to me. Sam is always trying to get people motivated and most of the time a person has to fake it in order to make it. Fifteen days ago I said that I was going to come in here and be a motivated maniac. Knowing that at the time I did not have any real motivation, I was just going to be real loud and stupid about it so they (the cadre) would leave me alone. I didn’t even have to fake it.
I think it also helped that I had a great class. Everything just flows better when you don’t have a bunch of people arguing and being stupid. This class has proved something to me, which I have always known but sometimes other people can be so blind to: it is totally okay to be different. You can be however you want to be, your own person and still be part of a group and still be generally well-liked. No, not everyone is going to like you all the time, but for the most part, reasonable people can accept you for who you are, regardless of any circumstance.
In this class of sixteen students, there were 12 males and four females. Of that, there were two guys with Minnesota (and their crazy Midwestern accents), a guy from Canada who drives 15 hours to drill, two guys from Washington state, three people from Texas, a grain farmer from Illinois and a guy who lives in Kansas City but wishes he was back home in Colorado. I was the only Muslim in class, but there was a devout Catholic, a few atheists, and a pastor. The grain farmer was a poet and had a terrible cadence voice. The pastor had a playfully argumentative nature. Then there was Mr. Military, an older UH-60 crew chief, who was like a cross between Chuck Norris and Magnum P.I. There were cooks, admins, infantry guys, MPs and artillerymen in the class. Everybody just seemed to get along very well even though we were all so different. The pastor said there was a reason why we were selected class. We were meant to all be together.
Every day we had these intense talks about all our random life experiences, our likes and dislikes, and everything Army. First, I am astounded that we even wanted to listen to one another. Second, if anybody was judging they weren’t doing it out loud and they didn’t give you that look like, “You’re an asshole.” It did not seem to matter to anyone that I am an overachiever. Nobody treated me in any kind of way because of anything that I said or did. For the first time since the start of this deployment, I felt like I could be exactly who I am, warts and all. I did not have to pretend to be anything just so people could stop looking at me like I’m crazy. I was free to laugh at anything I wanted; I could make whatever kind of wacky comment. It was just whatever.
There were some hysterical moments, like that last night at dinner together all the guys decided to chug Near Beer and one of them puked from one end of the formation to the other. There was Oh Canada’s striking impression of the first Student First Sergeant who sounded like a cross between Spongebob Squarepants and Pee Wee Herman. The instructor’s driver license picture which he willingly showed us. The constant jokes about the pastor having chicken in his pocket.
It’s over now and I did what I set out to do. In typical me fashion, I received the highest grade in my class. I went out of my way to be the best, including staying up late one night to study infantry tactics so I would not look like an asshole during the tactical exercise. That is just who I am. It is not possible for me to just be half-ass. What was a good feeling for me is that I was rewarded by my peers. That is the best feeling.
At any rate, unfortunately this is over with. All good things must come to an end. I am going to miss these guys. I have to go back over there and try my best to trudge through five more months. I saw some of the old crew last night and they asked me if I was ready to go back. I told them no, because I was having a good time. The real truth is that I do not want to go back into that black hole. Now I know how inmates feel after they’ve done their time. When you have been in prison and you get out, you kinda don’t know what to do. Some people want to go back because it is where they felt comfortable, where they felt safe. Some crazies do everything in their power to get back. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. So I’m just going to have to cope.