Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Guys In My Squad

Squads are the smaller units of the army, generally consisting of 15 or so guys. So, it's me and a dozen Israeli kids sleeping in one room. That room is your unit, the guys you do everything with. We have to sit together in the dining hall. We shoot together. We receive punishment as a group. It's an in-your-face experience with absolutely no time apart.

Being 24 years old has been tougher than I expected. So many people like to say that Israelis are much more mature than Americans at the end of the teens because of the army, and maybe that's true, but at 18... they're much worse. I'm not sure if they're just rebelling, if they're just coming from a culture with more freedoms and less seriousness, or if they're just idiots.

Sometimes I think they're just idiots. As you can tell, this past week for me has been insanely frustrating. I decided to come to Israel to help defend this state, for whatever that's worth, and so I'm just about the most serious person in the world at this point. I give 110% in everything I do. I don't open my mouth. I don't complain. I don't ask questions to ask questions. I don't make requests. I do what I'm told, and that's what I think everyone should be doing.

My squadmates aren't on the same page with me, however. Consequently, we've got one hell of a situation in our room. Our commander, Commander Sweetheart as I've decided to call him on here because he's so nice (and that's the problem for them), is just about finished with us. The pushups have increased. The frequency of putting on full combat gear and going for sprints have increased. Putting on the gas mask and doing work is a regular occurrence. Despite all this, the punishment just isn't working.

So the other day while the guys were laughing and goofing off in formation, the commander got really straight faced, turned around and put his hands up in exasperation, and told us to run to the basketball court around the corner. When we got there he made us get into matsav 2, the pushup position, and we didn't leave that for a solid twenty minutes.

I'm pretty sure about half the exercising I've done has been because these boys can't make the connection between goofing off and getting our butts kicked. Needless to say, I've been more than frustrated of late. It's a strange thing to like someone as a person but detest them as a coworker/colleague/squadmate.

Prepare for a couple more griping posts as the guys in my room slowly learn to behave, hopefully. Oh, and one last thing.  Don't get me wrong, these guys are becoming soldiers in the best army in the world.  They are learning what it means to be a Golanchik, what it means to be a 'warrior,' but the whole process would just be easier if they could learn to talk less and listen more.  I guess they'll figure that out sooner or later.

And either way, don't worry about me - at least I'm getting into really good shape!


Anonymous said...

1st - They are idiots.
2nd - there is nothing you can do (different culture)

"Best army in the world" is a lot overrated. It's very small, has enough cash and it's not very big business to fight with enemy that doesn't respond :)

I live in Israel, I was doing army (shlav bet) here after I did aliya from Ukraine.

Don't think that 'after we kill all bad guys there will be peace on the planet/region' - it never worked out. Of course I'm not saying to stop defending the country - every bad guy with gun in the hands should be eliminated BUT this is only the first part of the todo list - second is

Anonymous said...

If you have any religion beliefs - discard 2nd part please.

Anonymous said...

Actually, don't discard anything.

Anonymous said...

Israeli high school kids are just about the noisiest on the planet.

Israeli tourists, in most cases, need a swift kick in the behind to remind them that when they're abroad they should behave. Have you ever noticed that by the door, all the El Al planes say "The State abroad is YOU! Represent us well!"? There's a reason for that even if it doesn't seem to be working.

That being said, these guys will grow up eventually.

Hang in there, in the meantime.

Anonymous said...

Teenage boys are teenage boys, no matter where they are. :)

Roadie in Vancouver said...

I went through the same frustration in basic training as you describe. Once that was over and I was in Plugat Maakim, it changed. However, the very traits that makes Israelis great are also those that cause problems. Everyone knows everything and better than anyone else. It can lead to serious problems in the field and in combat. I remember on my first raid into Lebanon, I had to tell an Officer to put away his watch as it had a luminous dial that could probably be seen for miles in the darkness of Lebanon. Its called Lo Sam Zayin till it costs lives.

Honi said...

I had to comment here, they will learn eventually all kids no matter who they are usually do... and your attitude is rock solid.. I also loved.. and was truely inspired by your In the heart post! loved it.. best to you for a happy safe new year!

Anonymous said...

I came across your blog kind of by accident - I'm based in Israel but blog for a newspaper in the UK and wondered if I could paste link to your blog on mine- I think it's mucho interesting, especially as my kids will have to be in the army in a few years. Not to mention the religious slant, which makes it more of a challenge. You're doing an amazing thing, and it can't be easy - good for you, man. And if you think being 24 is tougher than you expected, wait. You're in for a fun ride.

Israeli by Day said...

Emma - yeah sure definitely post a link. Pass my blog around to everyone you know. I honestly, immodestly, think I don't get 10% of the traffic to this site that I deserve. So, get your newspaper to interview me!

BTW, reply here with your blog info and the newspaper, etc. Don't be a stranger!