Military Intelligence Isn’t On 24/7

, , , , | Right | October 11, 2019

(I am at officer training for my branch. The morning of this story, we were supposed to do a three-hour compass course, starting in the early hours. However, upon arrival at the site, it begins to rain, and then turns into a localized flash flood. Everyone is fine, but rather than give us the morning off, the instructors have moved the afternoon lecture to the morning. There’s time to grab coffee from a small stand located on the second floor.)

Barista: “I’m sorry, but the card machine is down. Cash only.”

Me: “S’alright, I’ve cash.”

(I place my order and she makes it. When she puts in the price, it comes to $5.75. Now, keep in mind, I’m out of it, and I hand her a five-dollar bill.)

Barista: “Umm, do you have seventy-five cents?”

Me: *half-asleep and not comprehending I’ve short-changed her* “No.”

Barista: “Okaaay… I can work with that.”

(She puts the bill into the drawer and I hold out my hand.)

Barista: “Is there something you need?”

Me: “My change.”

Barista: “Out of five dollars?”

Me: “Yes, my change?”

Barista: “Out of five dollars?”

Me: “Yes…”

(All of a sudden I wake up and join the living and realize I ordered a coffee that costs $5.75, but only gave her $5, and now I’m demanding change back, and the barista has actually offered to eat the cost!)

Me: “Oh, oh, crap! Oh, lord, I’m so sorry, I’m so f****** out of it! We had compasses this morning, but got rained out and they switched the lecture and I’m barely awake. I had no idea! Please, cancel the order; I don’t have exact change. I’m so sorry. I can’t believe I was demanding my change back!”

Barista: “Yeah, no, honey, you’re getting this coffee. You really need it. You looked like a zombie when you came in.”

(She insisted on giving me the coffee, even though she was the one who paid the $0.75. And I admit, I did need that coffee. We’re not allowed to tip civilian workers in these situations, but after that I was extra certain to have exact change and to greet her with a smile whenever I passed the area.)

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Shining The Torch For The Navy

, , , , , , | Working | August 28, 2019

I come from the Rust Belt. Joining the military to get good job training and post-service education benefits is pretty common in our area, and in 1982 my youngest sister enlisted in the Navy.

If you have ever been through boot camp, you are aware that the non-commissioned officers who act as drill instructors are a formidable bunch and can reduce a recruit to jelly with one ferocious glare. My sister, like the rest of her unit, was terrified of them.

One night, she was chosen to stand watch and dutifully set out to patrol the barracks, armed only with a heavy, Navy-issue flashlight. In the military, you always carry stuff in your left hand so your right is free for saluting. My sister was not yet “snapped in” to this, and from force of habit, during her watch had switched the flashlight to her right hand.

When the Petty Officer of the Watch showed up unexpectedly, [Sister], in a panic, snapped to attention and saluted. With her right, flashlight-bearing, hand.

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From The Look Of Things…

, , , , | Working | August 16, 2019

(I work at a clinic on an Air Force base with both active duty and civilian employees. We’re having our morning huddle, going over updates for the day. The airman running the meeting gets to the work orders.)

Airman: “And we have the soap dispenser in the office that’s not working—“

Me: *interrupting him* “It’s working now.”

Boss: “Yeah, facilities came and just looked at it and it started working again.”

Sergeant: *deadpan* “I say the same thing about my airmen.”

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Laughing Over This Stuff Is A Minefield

, , , | Working | July 3, 2019

(My uncle served in the British military and was stationed in Cyprus in the ’80s. One day he and another soldier are tasked with observing the Turkish side, reporting anything that happens. They reported earlier that a Turk was reinforcing the minefield.)

Partner: “Hey, [Uncle], what does that look like to you?” *points at the minefield*

(He looks through binoculars to where [Partner] is pointing and sees the guy that was laying mines looking around frantically and constantly turning the map he has.)

Uncle: “Looks to me like he mined himself into a corner.”

Partner: “That’s what I thought.”

Uncle & Partner: *laughing hysterically*

(They called it in and the Turks were notified. It took some time, but he managed to get out safely and got a severe tongue lashing from his CO.)

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Up To Your Elbows In Newbie Ignorance

, , , , | Working | June 14, 2019

(My brother is in the Navy. He isn’t high enough ranked to tell the captain, “She cannae take the strain, sair!” but he works with the ship’s engines and is high enough ranked to boss around the newbies. A number of his underlings are older and more experienced than he is because they had a civilian career before switching to the military, whereas he enlisted fresh out of high school. Those guys he’ll listen to, but some newbies are exactly as useless as you would expect.)

Brother: *finds a newbie struggling to loosen something*

Newbie: “It’s not working! It won’t budge.”

Brother: *waves it off* “Ah, just use some elbow grease!”

(Now, some people do not speak English as a first language. You would expect slang to go over their heads. Not this guy — Anglophone from the cradle. He gawks at my brother and asks:)

Newbie: “Where’s that, sir?”

(My brother blinks and thinks for a moment. He is not debating whether to prank this guy. I don’t know if this is universal to militaries or if it’s just Canada, but it’s believed that if you’re dumb enough to fall for something, you deserve the fall. So, it’s just a question of which prank to pull.)

Brother: “It’s in the bilge.”

(The ship’s bilge is… unpleasant. It’s not helped by the fact that military funding in Canada is a tad sporadic, leading to a culture of neurotic hoarding in case you can’t ever get a certain widget again – hoarding done largely by young men who are either bachelors or else effectively bachelors while deployed with the family at home, with all of the organization and cleanliness one would expect from such a group.)

Newbie: “Okay!” *toddles off to the bilge*

(My brother restrains laughter until the guy’s out of earshot, laughs, and gets on with the workday. Fast forward a couple hours: a superior officer comes up to him, trying desperately to suppress enough laughter to talk.)

Superior: “Hey, [Brother’s Nickname]! Did you send [Newbie] down to the bilge to look for elbow grease?”

Brother: “Oh, s***! I forgot about that! Is he still down there?”

Superior: “Yeah! He told me what you said, so I told him, ‘Keep looking! It’s always way in the back!’”

(As soon as my brother finished dying of laughter, he sprinted off to go rescue the newbie… who never did realize he’d been had.)

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