25 March 2008
The following is the (slightly edited) text of an email I sent to my buddy Tony yesterday. He emailed me back today to tell me that he figured this would be a good blog entry, so here it is:
Got your book in today's mail, but haven't had a chance to kick back with it yet...kinda busy today.
Went for my physical at 0600 - everything went smooth, even the hearing test! However, while I was waiting for the doors to open, I have to admit that there was a moment where I asked myself, "Why the hell am I doing this again? I absolutely HATE gettin' up before the Sun does...seems downright unnatural, ya know.....?"
Why the hell was a 47 year-old (reasonably still) newlywed hangin' his ass back out on the line?
...and all the bureaucraps' horseshit paperwork, the dickheaded mind-games, the endless waiting....what the thunderin' hell was I DOING HERE?
I could just bag it all and walk right back out the door...
...then I saw my reflection in the display case [built into the wall] that held a bunch of donated uniforms from WW2, Korea and the Nam, and I saw that face starin' back at me from the glass....
Just a minute or so later, ten new recruits - some going to the Marines, some headed for the Navy, and a couple Guardsmen and Army - rolled in and began the wait in the entryway, just like I'd been doing.
I looked 'em over...pretty typical mix.
Some tall, some short, most lean, a couple pudgy (THAT wouldn't last long!), and all of them SO DAMNED YOUNG!
All of 'em had that high school football "game-face" on.
You know the one.
The one that ALL the new recruits wear that says, "Yeah, I know what I'm doing" - but I don't! - "I'm not scared" - but I am! - and, "I'm not going to let anyone see it!"
But we do...'cause we all wore it, once upon a time....
I had to chuckle a bit.
Were WE ever that young?
So I struck up some chit-chat with 'em: "What branch?", "What's yer job gonna be?", "When ya shippin'?", the usual stuff.
They all saw my past-the-shoulder hair, the (way too much) grey in my long beard, the "reversed" [American] flag I'd put on the right shoulder of my denim jacket so many years ago, and my black ballcap with the gold letters across the front that reads, "ARMY INFANTRY".
One of the older-lookin' ones actually asked how old I was, so I asked him the same in return. When he told me he'd be 20 next month, I told him I had a duffle bag that was [7 years] older than he was.....
That got some grins that were nowhere near as nervous as I expected, so we talked some more and I cracked some more ancient (to me, anyways) jokes about military life, and after a few minutes, they all seemed more at ease.
That's when it hit me.
THAT was what I was there to do...to give those young pups an old dog they could look at and say, "Hell, if that old fuck can do this, so can I....."
So now, I'm just waitin' on the blood-tests and piss-test results to get back from the labs, then we fire my packet up to the Retired Reserve Control Group. Once THEY sign-off on it with a Conditional Release, then we finish up my enlistment packet and I raise my hand, Say The Words, and I'm officially back in harness again.
...and I found out later this afternoon that it looks like the unit I'll be headed to is heavy with LOWER enlisted (THAT's a switch, for the Guard, who're usually real top-heavy with higher ranked people). Which means that it may have been a Hint-of-Things-To-Come with those kids this morning....
The Boss always seems to put up REALLY big sign-posts for me to follow....good thing, 'cause sometimes it takes a REALLY big club to pound the necessary Clue into my skull....
At any rate, I can't wait to read your book.
It better not suck....
Take It Easy, Bro....
Over the years, I've come to realize that no matter what twists and turns My Path takes, I always - ALWAYS! - end up where I need to be.
Not necessarily where I WANT to be, but always where I'm NEEDED.
What it comes down to is this:
As long as I remember to concentrate on doing things for other people - without any expectations of anything in return (not even a "thanks") - then it also usually ends up being what's best for me...sooner or later....
Now I need to make sure that MY shit don't suck....