So, by popular request, I guess I'm starting Military Mondays.
Last Monday, I told some about Basic Training and why I joined, but I'm going to start from the beginning...
When I wanted to call a recruiter, all there seemed to be in Fresno was Army. Initially, my friend David suggested I go Air Force as it's "not real military". The Army recruiter in Fresno told me the nearest Air Force office was in Lemoore which is about an hour from Fresno. I didn't have a reliable car, so I stayed in Fresno, talking to Army recruiters.
What the recruiter failed to tell me was that the AF recruiters would have come and picked me up. I found that out the day I went for my physical for the Army.
The physical - what an odd experience. Standing in line with all the rest of the female recruits, shuffling along, being poked, prodded, tested. They actually make the females have a Pap smear. The doctor was this ancient, kind, little old guy. I remember him testing my ovaries while my feet were in the stirrups - he said, "Let's see what this ovary is doing. OK, now let's see what this one over here is doing." I remember thinking, "They're having a party, can we move this along??" But like I said, he was very sweet and very, very old and I'm sure he thought the small talk was putting us at ease. Not so much.
The recruiter took me and some other recruits out to a lunch at some really crappy Chinese joint around the corner from the building where you get your physical, take your ASVAB, and pick your job. It was a buffet place and he was gushing about how he just loved eating there and it was all on the Army's tab. He was this doughy black guy and it was pretty clear he liked buffets. (All the recruiters in Fresno were in rotten shape. I think it's allowed so recruits will get the impression that the Army isn't that difficult. But that's just my opinion.)
After that lunch, he took us to a park and we all played basketball together. It was a fun game! I'm not great at basketball, but I don't completely suck either and I had a great time. Then he took us all home. He dropped me off last and walked me to my door. Then he pinned me against the door and started slobber-kissing me. I shoved him away and he stammered apologies, said he thought I was giving him signals and stuff. Right. Eeew. It was the first, but certainly not the last of some very inappropriate behavior on the part of superior ranking individuals in my time in the Army.
I had a delayed entry and as I explained in my last Military post, they sent me to the wrong base initially - Ft. Dix. They hadn't taken female recruits there in over 3 months so the Drill sgt.'s there were surprised to see me. They kept me with them the whole time I was there, except when it came to eating. At dinner, I got my tray of food and walked over to their table to sit down and eat. One looked at me like I was stupid and said, "What are you doing?" I said, "Sitting down to eat?" He said, "Uh-uh, find some place else to sit soldier, you can't sit with us." When I asked why, he explained about rank mixing and other stupid stuff that I quickly learned was de rigeur for the military. They can joke and smoke with you all they like but when it comes to mingling, not allowed. At least not in training settings.
I shrugged it off and walked to the nearest table. The guys at that table started shoving each other left and right to clear a space for me. It was like a bowl full of hungry fish when you throw a few fish flakes in. The Drill said, "You can't sit there either." "Why not," I sighed. He said, "That's for the recruits." (All guys, remember.) "OK," I said, "Then you tell me where to sit." - because the whole chow hall was all guys and there wasn't an empty seat to be had. The chow hall tables are like huge Formica picnic tables - the kind with benches attached. There's about 15 people per side and it's a tight fit.
The Drill stood up and made the nearest table full of guys clear out and find seats elsewhere. They had to cram in where they could at the other tables. I sat at this big ass table by myself, face burning since I could feel all these greedy eyes on me. Not that I'm much to look at, but after not having seen a female for weeks, those boys would take what they could get. The drill's kept barking at them to "chew it now, taste it later" and "eyes DOWN!!".
Same scenario the next morning for breakfast.
Like I said last post, I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I asked if I could just sit on the bus and wait until it was time to go back to the airport. They let me even though the bus didn't leave for another 3 hours. And the ride to the airport was no big joy either. It was full of fresh graduates who, again, hadn't seen a female for 8 weeks. I felt like an alien.
Next week, I'll take you through Reception with me.
Glad to have ducked Ft. Dix, Ruth!