A portion of A Walk in Darkness…Bad bosses and some sensitivity training…unedited…

On Monday, I climbed the stairs to the second floor landing and walked to a small room off the main wing of the building. The building itself sat across the street from the USO and out-processing building. 

A loud round woman stood behind the lectern. Between her girth and height she towered over said lectern. Her clothes were as loud as her mouth. She began class by asking each of us what we had done to ‘earn’ our place under her tutelage. Row by row, people stated what brought them to her class, then it was my turn.

“What did you do?”

“Nothing,” I said. “Unlike these guys, I don’t belong here.”

My response caused snickers of laughter to break out in the classroom. My instructor was not pleased with my remark. She walked back to where I sat and loomed over me. 

“You harassed a female soldier,” she bellowed. Her voice rose to a high pitch, and I looked at the windows to see if visible scarring had taken place. 

“What? No, I did not. Get outta here with that crap.”

“Are you calling my cousin a liar?”

“Um, yes?”

She walked to the front of the class fuming, and I leaned back in my chair and waited for my dismissal. 

“Let me guess, Freeman. You have a problem with women in the military, right?”

“No.” 

“What do you think of the PT standards?”

“Oh, that’s some crap.”

“Why?”

“What do you mean why? The standards are crap.”

She waved a hand around the room and said, “enlighten us with your wisdom.”

“Okay. Challenge accepted. I’m 36 years old. For me to max my PT test, I must do the following: 80 pushups, 80 sit ups, and complete the run in 12 minutes and thirty seconds. How old are you? Thirty? Maybe? For you to max the PT test, you have to do 19 pushups, 60 situps, and you have all day plus eternity to complete your run. How is that fair?”

“Women are different from men!”

“Oh, now that’s a thing. When it’s time for PT, you play that card. Everywhere else though, don’t even mention that crap.”

Her fat face contorted with rage, her eyes bulged and her lips drew down into a deep frown. In a husky, demonic voice she yelled at the top of her lungs, “get out of my class!”

I glanced at my watch, the digital readout read 0904. “Four minutes,” I thought as I gathered up my things, “shortest class ever.” My smile could have been seen from the moon as I walked out of the building. 

For once, I couldn’t wait to get back to work. 

It took less than five minutes for me to make it back to the company headquarters. I walked in and was met by my First Sergeant and Platoon Sergeant. 

“What are you doing back here, Freeman?”

“Um, I was asked to leave sensitivity training, First Sergeant.”

“Why?”

“Um, Sergeant G, the instructor and I had a difference of opinion.”

“You weren’t sent there to give your opinion,” both men shouted at me. I feigned shock and put my hand over my heart.

“Not even when she asked me for it?”

“Get in my office,” Sergeant G growled at me. I meekly followed him to the office and shut the door behind us.

“You can’t even do the basics, Sergeant.”

“Well, in my defense, you did say I haven’t done anything. I just wear this rank for no reason.”

“I’m tired of your smart mouth, Freeman.”

“That’s okay. I’m tired of being surrounded by incompetent jackasses.”

Sergeant G glared at me, I smiled back. He picked up a packet and threw it in my direction. I scooped up the loose paperwork and shoved it back into the manila folder. 

“That’s a packing list. As of this moment, I am sending you to the field with our Battalion Headquarters for the next sixty days.”

“Awesome. Are you going?”

“No. The only person going is you.”

“Oh. Did I upset the apple cart here? Too much discipline? Y’all aren’t used to warfighter humor?”

“Get out of my office, Freeman.”

“Oh, I see. I remind you of that one time you actually were a soldier,” I said as I walked out. I shut the door, and as I walked away I heard something smash into it and break. One of the NCOs stood at the copier as I walked out.

“Later,” I said as I passed.

“Where are you headed?”

“To the Mojave. See you in sixty days.”

The sun was shining as I walked out of the building. A large window allowed people to look out over the parking lot. I turned at my Jeep and glanced up, First Sergeant E and Sergeant G glared down at me. I opened my door, then turned and gave them a wave goodbye. 

A smile crossed my lips as I drove away. It was a good day to be alive.

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