Here's the background info on the 4,000 Questions posts...
Question #8: What's the most exciting thing you've ever done?
Hmmmm....exciting can have so many meanings. I think I'm going to choose Army Basic Training. It was an incredible experience on so many levels:
- I was only 17, and really didn't understand the concept of signing my actual life over to the US government (GI stands for Government Issue), but had the chutzpah to do it anyway. I made the decison without my parents' knowledge, but had to get their signatures before everything became legal because I was under age.
- To get to Basic, I went on my FIRST airplane ride ever. We actually walked out onto the tarmac and climbed up a set of steps that had been wheeled to the side of the plane.
- It was the first time away from my family, and I was traveling all over the states BY MYSELF in my little "Lady Bug" (that I bought used for $300; I swear it's the car that is used for golf practice in the first few scenes of the movie Tin Cup). People would always beep and wave at me on the highway in my cleverly painted little car (thanks, family), covered with Army stickers.
There are just so many things about Basic Training that were new and different, I hardly know where to begin:
- Before you read this next comment, and start to wonder about me, let me begin with this disclaimer: I don't currently use or own weapons, and am so glad I never needed to use one to hurt anyone, but I did learn to shoot at targets as a kid and always felt at ease on the rifle range. That being said...I really liked using an M-16! It has a regular and a semi-automatic setting; we only got to use the semi-automatic setting once in awhile, as it used up so much ammo, but it really was fun. I earned my Expert medal for the rifle and the Sharpshooter medal for the grenade.
- I was in the best physical shape of my life, could knock out push ups and sit ups like nobody's business, and was a master of the "front leaning rest." (The only part of PT that I dreaded was running.)
- I could low-crawl in the mud under barbed wire, knew drill and ceremony steps perfectly, and could move lithely through an obstacle course. Like all of the other soldiers, I felt strong and invincible.
- I'm a sucker for precision, so my uniform, bed, locker, boots, patches, etc, were always according to regulation, which usually made my drill sergeants say, as they stood in front of me inspecting me, "Stone, always squared away."
A funny story I remember is from my very first formal inspection. I had never heard the term "Army brat" but sort of grew up like one. When the Captain, who was very scary to me, and his entourage got to me (remember...I'm a Virgo...everything in my locker was folded and placed EXACTLY according to the Army manual), he looked over me and my area and said, "Stone, are you a military brat?" As far as I knew, a "brat" was a derogatory term to describe an ill-natured person. So, I had two options:
- AGREE with the Captain, and call myself a bad name.
- DISAGREE with the Captain, and maybe fail inspection or make Basic life hard for myself.
What was I supposed to do? Standing stiffly at attention, my fingers gripped the seams of my pants and my eyes stared unwaveringly ahead. In my 17-year-old-oh-my-God-this-is-the-Captain stupor, I said the first thing that came to mind: "I don't know, sir." He just looked at me funny and kept moving on down the line of scared soldiers. I can only imagine what he must have been thinking.
Photo info: (yes, these photos were taken with a Polaroid, which was my first camera purchase ever...film is no longer made for these!)
Photo #1: Me after Basic Training graduation, in my Class Bs and my Clark Kents.
Photo #2: Crossing into Alabama on my way from South Carolina to Texas, with the odometer about to hit 100,000 miles and me in my old style BDUs (Battle Dress Uniform); now, they're made in a camouflage pattern, but the first set I was issued was this olive drab color.
Your turn...what's the most exciting thing you've ever done?