Well, Bakum went off without a hitch. I went inside as a civilian, and came out the wrong side as a soldier. The wrong side, because unlike everyone else who went forward, I had to go back where we came from in order to correct the spelling of my name on my dog tags. When I had to go back, the soldiers who serve in that room wouldn’t let me back in. As a result, I never had to sign my name for any of the equipment or clothing I was given. I simply went out the way I came, as a soldier.
This means if I were to lose any of my clothes or equipment, its technically impossible to make me pay for it, since I never signed for the responsibility. This could either be pretty good for me, or could give me a serious headache down the road.
The uniform adds something to a person. Not just pride, but a physical presence. People I met earlier in the day didn’t recognize me in my uniform. It was like I was someone else all of a sudden. Other people would approach me and ask me “where is such and such office…etc”, and I would respond “dude, I don’t know, 5 minutes ago I was you”.
My first week as a soldier has gone by and for the most part I’m quite happy with my surroundings. The base is quite large. Someone told me an hour wouldn’t be enough time to walk the entire place from one end to the other. That might be an exaggeration, but you get the point. From the mountain on which my base is located, I can see at least one Israeli city and some Arab villages. For security reasons I wont mention names, but I will say that I’m stationed far up north and its been raining all week there. Which is awesome because doing things in the rain makes you feel way more like a soldier. Its like all those army movies in America, boot camp and rain go together.
The last few days we have been learning to stand in a het (like a square with one side missing), two straight lines, and other rudimentary soldier things that we can’t seem to get right. When we get something wrong or forget a phrase we are supposed to say, our group is required to repeat the action until its done correctly. Tomorrow, basic training starts, which means when we do something wrong we wont just repeat the action, we’ll be punished somehow. Running, push-ups, etc, that’s what I’m expecting to start tomorrow.
Most of our commanders are women. Some of the guys in my group don’t seem to respect this fact. In general they don’t like being ordered to do things. But I’m guessing that’s what basic training is for. Its only a three week long course, but my guess is that these guys will be reined in pretty quickly. There’s only so many push-ups you can do before you realize it isn’t worth an attitude. In any case, we’re all good to each other.
I went into the army expecting the worst, that way it would be easier to please me if I was expecting a lower standard than I would actually receive. The food is good: in the mornings we eat an egg, cottage cheese, salad, soup, hot tea (very sweet), pudding. For lunch: pasta, hot dog, chicken cutlet, salad, soup, fruit punch, rice. For dinner we get: cottage cheese, bread, hot tea (very sweet), salad, soup, rice.
We take as much food as we want. But we get 15 minutes to eat at each meal, so I eat a total of 45 minutes a day. For me, its more than enough time.
There are 11 guys in my group, and we all sleep in the same room on bunk beds. The bathrooms are much nicer than I was expecting, you can make eye contact with your stall neighbors when standing to pee. No need to get carried away in conversation, a gratifying “whats up” during number 1 will suffice. But for anything else you want to do in there, you get privacy.
Some of the other groups got their guns already. Some even got a second military bag with their combat equipment (protective vest, kneepads, etc). I didn’t get that yet, but I did get a blanket so I sleep warmly. Classic army problem, nothing happens the same way for anyone. Another example would be my army bag, its got two straps so it can be worn like a book bag on my back and it has a zipper. It seems no one else on my base has a bag like mine. They all have a bag with one strap that they can put around their shoulder, and no zipper to close the bag with, instead they have to tighten a knot to close their bag. Suffice it to say, people envy my bag.
Little things like that make a soldier’s week.
And why do I have such a cool bag? Turns out one of the people I met at a bar and had a good amount of drinks with a week before my draft, serves in Bakum! I didn’t know it at the time, but that guy gave me a real gift. If you’re reading this, thanks dude!
Tomorrow morning I need to get myself back to base, of course I’m not really sure how I’ll do that. Once again, its not like I can just put in the address on google maps. And even if I could, military bases don’t have addresses.
Seems like that’s how it usually is for a soldier, you do everything you need to do, but it all happens in a constant state of confusion.