Letters from Basic Training – April 18, 2004 – Part II

I’m doing laundry as I write this.

[One of the things I remember most vividly from basic training was my laundry scheme. In basic training, on Sundays, you typically spend the day doing various cleaning tasks and details. Most of the drill sergeants will have the day off. If you go to church, after you get back, you’ll clean with everybody else. I came up with a plan to avoid buffing floors, picking up rocks, etc: I volunteered to do everyone’s laundry. This may sound like a horrible plan, but wait. I told everyone that if they left their laundry bag and a little packet of detergent at the end of their bunks, I would wash their clothes. We had something like 6 washers and dryers. So I’d take some laundry bags downstairs and toss them in the wash. Because of the laundry bags, I didn’t even have to touch anyone’s dirty clothes – just dumped them in, and pressed the buttons. Now the cycle was 45 minutes long, so I’d just sit in the laundry room and write letters, read books, bullsh*t with anyone who dropped by. When the laundry came out of the dryer – I’d stuff it back into the bag and bring it upstairs – I didn’t fold. It would take the better part of the day to finish the platoon’s laundry. And everyone assumed I was working super hard – it almost got embarrassing the amount people would thank me. “No, really, it was nothing…”]

Last night, because I was a good boy, I got to go to a concert. It was very interesting. In 1st, 3rd and 4th platoons, 3 or so guys could not go. But in our platoon, there were 20 that had done various things and were punished. The band was a cover band called I9 and they had a girl as a singer and as a bassist. [ Wow, I just found them, the wiki article only mentions one female and doesn’t say that they’re a cover band, but this is them.]

There were probably 3 other girls in the crowd [wonder who these were? Permanently assigned troops like PFC Mercado? I don’t remember if they were in BDUs or not] and 2000 guys in BDUs milling around. It was free for trainees to go. The band was all right, because they played all familiar songs, but most everyone was there for the food. They sold us tokens beforehand for pizza, ice cream, soda, gatorade, hot dogs, etc. Since it had been so long since I’ve had caffeine, I got totally wired off of two sodas. Guys mostly lounged on the grass. Some slept, some took pictures. It was like a bizarre Lollapalooza. I had a good time just to be able to relax. One thing that was unusual was that if you lost the group you were with it was almost impossible to find them again because everyone was wearing identical clothes.

[An interesting anecdote – at the concert, there was a full-bird colonel walking around. He was the head of all infantry basic trainees. We had to memorize our chain-of-command, which is how I knew him. We’ll call him Colonel B. He visited various groups of soldiers and spread good cheer. “How are you men doing? At Ease, at ease. Enjoying your soda? How’s training going? Everything okay?” Several years later, on my way to Iraq, we were back at Ft. Benning, at the CRC. The CRC is a place where individual soldiers go before they deploy. Usually the unit provides pre-deployment training. But if you are a civilian contractor, a high-ranking officer or on a small,bizarre mission (us), you might go through the CRC. I happened to run into Colonel B – now General B – in the line where we were doing some kind of paperwork. He was on the way to the desert on some high-ranking, “fix-this-mess” sort of command. He remembered being the Sand Hill commander, but not the concert. But he was still very cordial to low-ranking joes. (I didn’t chew his ear off or pester him – you should act around Generals like you act around the CEO of your company or a celebrity you admire). After our brief conversation, he chewed out the CRC personnel for being a pain in the ass. (oh yeah, they sucked) It is very cool to see a general in all his might, as long as he is on your side.]

Like the different paper? [the old stationery said “Operation Enduring Freedom” on it]

My buddy picked it up for me at the PX today. I wish they would let more than 4 of us go per week, there are a lot of things I would pick up if I could just walk through the aisles. This week I got 2 or 3 things but last week the guy forgot to get me anything. [I think this was a good plan by the drill sergeants. They didn’t want to give us a pass every weekend, but they probably didn’t want to deal with privates running out of toothpaste, etc]

We had a wall locker inspection Saturday morning. I worked until 11:30 PM making everything perfect. Then I slept until 1 AM, when I had fireguard until 2, then I stayed up half an hour writing you, then slept until 4. The next day I was so tired until the concert, I thought I would fall asleep standing up. But we got a good night sleep last night and I am much better now. The reason guys couldn’t go to the concert and had to stay back and do laundry and other work was as follows:
9 left their weapons in the bay when they went downstairs – “The Notorious Nine”
6 wore short sleeve shirts under their sweatshirts at PT (should have worn long-sleeve underneath) “The Shortsleeve Six”
2 were chronic slackers and sick call champions
1 was Greenberg.
1 lost the rifle part I told you about.
1 was hurt and couldn’t make the march.

Greenberg is a nimrod. He volunteered to do 3 fireguard shifts during the night before the inspection, but all he could do was sit at the desk, because his arm’s in a sling. (One guy has to sit at the desk at all times, others clean the place) But he kept falling asleep at the desk, which is a big no-no. He complained to me this morning, “It’s not fair that everyone hates me, I did 3 shifts of fireguard.”

I’m writing a letter to you in the laundry room with this guy Morris. […] He’s a former Mormon missionary, and he has never had sex in his life. He’s 22. He lived in France for 2 years before the Army. He also hasn’t masturbated in 3 years. [I’m not sure why I shared this with her, but it’s kind of interesting]

[to be continued – there’s only a little bit left of this part, but it’s about poop]

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