(Posted this elsewhere and felt like sharing more widely. -mph)
So, when I enlisted I had the misfortune of not completing 13 correct army pushups during in-processing and I was shunted into a pre-Basic Training unit called the “Fitness Training Unit.” I completed 20 correct army pushups two days later (it had something to do with keeping my back straight), but there was no platoon to join for Basic Training for another three weeks.
Because I was now a model of fitness with my 20 correct army pushups, and because I had to wait around three weeks to go to actual Basic Training, and because I was a few years older than all the other soldiers, I was designated the unit’s platoon guide. The job mostly entailed making sure everyone did their chores, keeping the squad bay swept, wall lockers tidy and secured, and bunks made before formation every morning. Sometimes I escorted soldiers to sick call if they strained something.
As a reward, I was permitted to have one Country Time Lemonade from the vending machine in the drill sergeants’ day room each night. I was also permitted to write a community college term paper for one of the drill sergeants, who appreciated it but did later tell me he felt it prudent to add a few typos back in, since my journalism major seemed to be showing.
Anyhow, it was less lemonade and term papers, and more making sure everything was tidy. There was also a sting involving one of the soldiers from the Philippines and human trafficking.
One morning, one of the soldiers preferred to hang around chatting, so I went up to him and said “hey, you need to make your bunk before we go down to formation, or we’re all gonna get smoked and I’m gonna get yelled at by the senior drill.”
He told me to go fuck myself, so I repeated the request but added “can we not make this a problem?”
He leapt up from his bunk, assumed a sorta Bruce Lee stance, made a bunch of yipping Bruce Lee noises and launched a flurry of little kung-fu strikes in front of my face. I let him finish and said “okay, sure, could you now please make your fucking bunk?”
He started crying and then he made his bunk.