Avid Fans and Others, I am Reminded
By a post over at the online residence of the sodden madonna of the internets, of an incident that happened shortly prior to the end of my military career.
I was working with a summer staffer from the Canadian Forces Reserves. They are often employed to shore up mnumbers during the summer on training bases, where the active season co-incides with the student schedules of major institutes of learning.
My job, as driver for the Company Sargeant Major or CSM, involved fetching forth food and drink thrice daily for staff. Additionally, I shipped the sick, lame, and lazy to their doctor's appointments, stopped at the on-the-way store and bought smokes for any as needed, and generally did whatever damn dogsbody thing was believed necessary by my boss. Because, in case you don't realize it, the CSM is god.
So Pte Slouch, a skinny, slightly pretty, rather hard-of-thinking girl from an area near my hometown, came aboard that summer. Being of the male type, and having as my goal the maximization of contact with female types of people with the minimization of clothing, I made sure to try and endear myself to her. Said attempts were greatly hampered by the presence of a buffoon from her home battalion, with whom I shared a mutual loathing, and my general state of sobriety when off duty (none to speak of).
She was a provincial little thing, but oh she had big problems. Her parents were separating. Her brother was an uncontrollable danger to himself, into drugs and drink, and inclined to lose control. She herself seemed to suffer repreat cases of the galloping heebie-jeebies or possibly the crawling crud or some such affliction on a basis that became repetitive. Some said she was just lazy. Given my motivation, I didn't care what she was. She was a target, and I was, in the finest military tradition, determined to acquire her with all due speed.
As the CSm's driver it was my prerogrative to choose whatever victim was currently un-tasked to help me load up the 5/4 ton truck with haybox rations and assorted other junk.So on this day, Pte Slouch was beside me for the smoke-n-choke run to the kitchen, and as was customary we stopped in at Base Transport for the mail.
I have no idea why mail-call is supposed to be such a big morale booster. Surely the field cannot be such a misery that the arrival of another overdue notice from Zellers is a happy event? Still it was, as I said, customary.
Pte. Slouch went inside for a while. When she returned, she looked very stressed. Her eyes were red, and water was leaking from them.
"My brother was in a car accident," she said "He's in a coma in hospital and they don't think he's going to live."
Naturally I was shocked.
"You better talk to Chimp (our section commander) and get some compassionate leave right away." I replied.
"Oh, no." she said "Mom says there's probably nothing to be done. I'll stick it out here"
Still I persisted, and by the time we were back at camp she seemed to be persuaded to at least take some time off to visit her family.
So she returned with me for the breakfast run the following day, and I was informed that she was staying on base until transportation home could be arranged for her.
At lunchtime I was required to take my boss, Chimp (he was husky of build, with a low brow and heavy jaw), somewhere. A hundred yards from Transport, I asked him how Pte. Slouch's brother was making out.
"Huh?" he said.
"Well," I answered, not yet picking up on the cognitive dissonance, "It sounded like he was pretty badly off."
"Huh?" he said, again.
I repeated myself.
"Waitaminit," he said, furrowing his honest brow, "She's going home because her parents are divorcing or something ..."
There was some brief confusion, which resulted in me turning the truck around and heading for home. Chimp went into his office and made a phone call. Immediately thereafter there there was a short, intense meeting between Pte. Slouch and Mcpl Chimp.
Pte. Slouch was confined to quarters. As she was a reservist she wasn't charged, just shipped home with the equivalent of "Not wanted on voyage" marked in her personnel file and an injuction, essentially, against her coming within a mile of the base for whatever length of time her military career would endure. She was still in the reserves two years later.
On the day she left, I was given the task of driving her to her departure point. I had met with her once since the big blowup, and she had asked me in all angry sincerity why I'd felt it was my business to enlighten the army to the fact that she was pretty much trying to rip them off.
I answered that if she'd been a half-decent liar she would have stuck to one simple story.
But I really kind of sympathized. I had once (albeit with slightly more honesty) parleyed my dad's hiatus hernia into a week's vacation at home. Perhaps I'll tell you that one sometime.
For the kiddies who may be reading this post (for I think a blog post should always have some moral lesson to impart to the tiny tots) the moral lesson of this post is:
"Keep your lies simple. It makes it far less likely you'll be caught out."
Words to live by, from your best friend and mine, Metro.