I promised myself that I wouldn't talk about basic this long after it, and also that I would let my old commander, Yonni (Crazy Eyes), leave the blog gracefully. But, during guard duty at 3am the other night I was talking with the guy who was posted with me and we got to the topic of that old commander. We shared our favorite stories, commiserated a little, and then he explained to me something that I wondered about a long time ago.
You see, Crazy Eyes and all the other guys tend to do things that just seem ridiculous. Every time it happens, I'm pretty sure there must be a reason and that I'm just missing it. Well, this was one thing that I definitely didn't understand, and there was a reason. I've said a few times that the commanders like to have fun with us, and all the more so when they think they're attacking weakness. Here's the best example I can give:
One normal day at the shooting range a kid named Liav complained about a pain in his knee. The day before, Liav had received a sheet of paper which stated that he had permission to not put too much stress on the knee. So, during a long break in shooting where we had to stand in formation without moving, without talking, Liav raised his hand and said that he needed to sit down.
"Yonni," Liav called out, "I need to sit down. My knee hurts."
"Yeah, I have permission from the medic."
Walking over to Liav, Yonni put his hand out and asked for the bettim permission.
Reading out the sheet, Yonni said in a clear, declaratory voice, "Liav has permission to sit for 10 minutes out of every hour." Yonni handed the sheet back to Liav, and turned around with his head down. He walked back inside the shooting range concrete shelter, and we all heard the staff sergeant's gearbox open and close. A few seconds later Yonni walked out with a smile on his face. A sly smile.
A piece of rope was in his hand. He pointed to a rock the size of a volleyball. Liav went over to the rock as instructed, strained to pick it up, and then huddled back to Crazy Eyes with the weight between his legs.
"Liav," Crazy Eyes began. "You'll get your sitting break every hour, but you're going to earn it." He then proceeded to tie the heavy stone to the back of Liav's vest, where he carried it from the rest of the day.
It was pretty much the funniest day ever.