Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Judgmental Bastard--the Transition Back to Civilian Life

Three weeks in Army culture changes me.  The longer I am in the National Guard, the faster and more thoroughly I can change from seeing the world through civilian eyes, to seeing through olive-drab-colored glasses.

On the last day of training we were cleaning the barracks.  After the inside of the barracks was shined and polished I told three enlisted men to join me in Police Call--picking up trash--mostly cigarette butts--around the barracks.  One of the soldiers protested that he was willing to pick up trash but not cigarette butts.  I was ten feet away.  After a moment's hesitation in which I tilted my head and looked to see if he was joking, I yelled, "I am not taking an opinion poll.  Pick up everything."

In Army training we show up on time, line up for chow and wait for leaders to make up or change their minds.  And when we judge each other, it is on competence.  Everyone knows who can shoot, wrench, run, communicate or spit best, because we spend so much time together watching and judging each other.

And then I come home.

Home is fine.  My wife insists on being on time, and is strict with our kids.

But then I leave home.

On Sunday a couple that I ride with invited to go with them on a 50-mile group ride.  I met them at 1250 and rode with them to the place where we were meeting the rest of the riders.  We rolled up at 1258 for a 1pm start.

One of the three riders was ready to go.  Another was changing and his bike was still in his van.  The third just discovered he had a flat.  Really?  Is air in your tires is optional?

It was already 93 degrees and getting warmer.

We waited 7 minutes for the guy who was still getting ready, while the guy who was ready told us what an awesome climber he is.  The guy with the flat drove a few miles up the road to change the tire.  We rode to meet him.  We waited ten more minutes for him to finish changing the tire (a five minute job for someone who knows what to do).

Five miles into the ride, Bruce said, "I thought you told me you were tired.  You rode hard up the last two hills." I explained that I was riding on adrenaline.  I got angry waiting for the guy who was folding his shorts, the guy who was changing his tire, and then I need to beat the guy uphill who introduced himself as an amazing climber.

Sixteen miles into the ride, the two guys we waited for turned back.  Too hot.

Eight miles later we got to Nissley Vineyards--the turnaround point.  There was some water.  I got half a bottle.  Our leader--Mr. Climber--said we were going to Elizabethtown.  OK.  I can ride six miles on spit.

Except he made a wrong turn.  I followed and suddenly we were headed for Mount Joy.  Two of us had no water.

I rode to a Turkey Hill store.  Got hydrated.  Then we rode back on my route--not the route suggested by Mr. Climber.

I told Bruce that the Army really enhances my already strong tendency to be a Judgmental Bastard.  That got me through a 55 mile ride on a 95-degree day at a respectable speed, but it is not a good way to live.

Hopefully I can chill out before I have to go back to the Army again.

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