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Monday, December 12, 2011

Do What YOUR Drill Sgt. Says!

The ultimate game of Simon Says is during Basic Training with your Drill Instructors.
One of the dirty tricks they did to me was Drill Sgt. H. called me up to the front of the platoon by our designated square and expressed that Drill Sgt. O.'s boots looked better than his did.  Then he commanded me to step on them.  This is a dangerous game they play.  They try to do things that are so incredibly stupid that you wouldn't dare do them, like step on the highly polished boots of a Drill Instructor!  That is about the same as pouring gasoline over yourself and asking you to set yourself on fire, except that the fire would kill you quicker and would be a more merciful way to go.
It just so happens this Drill Instructor O. had previously owned my stupid ass for an entire day for knocking him off a set of steps.  I smoked back then and would always try to be the first person in the block and in enough time to sneak a cigarette before the rest of the platoon made it down stairs and the Drill Sgt.'s came out.
When you came out of the doors of the barracks there were two concrete steps before you got to the sidewalk.  It was my habit to hit those doors running jump over the two steps and hit the sidewalk running.  That morning I hit something mid jump and the drill Sgt. landed on his back on the right and his dry cleaning landed on the left.  He was given my body to smoke and harass for the rest of the day.  Which he did!  I was told if I lived to report back to my drill Sgt.'s at the end of the day.  Truly that was the longest day of my life.
This Drill Sgt. O was whose boots I was instructed to step on by my Drill Sgt.  Without hesitation and before the gravity of the situation could grab hold of my pea sized brain and scare me.  I stepped forward and stopped on the toe of the Drill Sgt.'s closest foot to me.  My Drill Sgt. grabbed the back of my shirt and pulled me back and told me to RUN!  He immediately started consoling the other Drill Sgt. with the fact that he told me to do it.  I ran like instructed and was rounded up later.  Drill Sgt. O had it out for me after that.  Thank God he was the Sgt. for the next platoon over.  Not my platoon.
So the day a Drill Instructor Trainee showed up from the DI School, my Drill Sgt. H came and found me.
"You know how you do exactly what your Drill Instructor tells you to do.  I want you to do exactly that today when Drill Sgt.(so and so) takes you all down to turn in your laundry."
They made me squad leader the one in the front left hand position of the platoon.  They instructed the platoon they are to always follow and do what the Squad Leader does!  The Squad follows the Squad Leader.  The Drill Instructor commands basically the Squad Leader.  They bought out the Instructor Trainee, and if he could find me today I am sure he would kill me for the three stooge's routine that I perpetrated on him that unforgettable morning.
We (the platoon) were in our block with our pillow cases with our dirty bed linens in the pillow case.  We knew the routine.  We would get marched orderly to the laundry building, file through and drop off our dirty laundry and pick up clean laundry and be marched back to our block.  We would be released from there to go and make our bunks and then on to training, or a round of inspections, we all prayed for training.  Our normal Drill Instructors brought out the Trainee, and unleashed him on us.  His first order to us standing in the block was to pick up our laundry bags and throw them over our left shoulder.
The hilarity ensued immediately.  I bent over picked up my pillow case and literally threw it as hard as I could over my left shoulder.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I turned around after the Drill Instructor exploded into me.  There were 32 laundry sacks or pillow cases with laundry strewn about the Quad.  Bless their hearts the members of my platoon had followed my lead exactly and without hesitation.  I was as proud of them as I am sure my Drill Instructor was proud of me.  The DI in training was just beginning one of the longest hours of his life.
What should have taken ten to fifteen minutes at most?  He marched us into a bank of telephone booths.  The entire formation turned into a total disorganized mess about ten times before we were done.  I couldn't believe a man could yell that loud and hard and not burst something in his head or lungs.  But as I have stated before I grew with yelling, I was a graduate of that school, and totally immune.  The yelling didn't rattle me.  The push-ups inspired me to listen harder for the next opportunity to politely and accurately fight back by doing exactly what he told me to do.  I sure hope he didn't get recycled or kicked out of DI school for my antics, but my God it was the time of my life getting to give some back in the proper military fashion.
As I manager these days, I never forget the lessons I learned all those years ago.  I have a written note pinned to my bulletin board of my office.
"Nothing happens in your Location without your Approval.  Whether through your actions or your Lack of Action."  I think of that day with the Trainee DI every time I look at that note pinned up there.

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