Taking Chances

I believe taking chances with people, especially the challenging ones, is a great way to live. After all, you never know what kind of surprise you’ll run into, and that’s what makes life interesting!

– 2002, Camp Essayons, Korea: Imagine an average height, pleasantly plump male character with blond hair, blue eyes and big glasses. His personality was a mirror-image of the character, Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory show, minus the “genius” and “sometimes lovable” part. I actually like the character Sheldon Cooper, so it’s funny how things turned out. My first few encounters with SSG Ahole led me to go up to my squad leader and say in a frustrated manner, “Sergeant Ahole…”…and my squad leader finished my sentence with, “…is an asshole.”

One time I borrowed his stapler, since he was the admin guy working at the company HQ. When I returned it, he flipped out because it wasn’t on the exact location of the desk as before…like a few inches away. I thought I was anal…but this guy was a piece of work. At first, I took it personally; but then I realized that he treated everyone like crap, except the higher ups of course. He was the biggest pain-in-the-ass I had ever met, and he had no interpersonal skills whatsoever. It was as if he was hunting for things to bitch about 24/7.

One morning, we had an alert at 3:00 a.m., and I went to his office to ask him a question about some documents. He then started ranting about shit I can’t even remember, and then it happened. The explosion followed by silence, and then followed by a gentle voice saying, “Its right over there.” I am truly not a morning person, especially when it’s pitch dark outside and I haven’t had any caffeine yet. The so-called explosion wasn’t me yelling or losing it, but it was a command voice that even surprised me, because I had never talked to superiors in that tone. I basically said, “Sergeant Ashole, my squad leader asked me to bring the documents. Do you have them or not?” I think his gentle reply was more surprising than anything else.

The next surprise came months later when my girlfriend and I were having lunch at a Korean restaurant. He ended up joining us because he had walked in by himself while we were eating, and my friend was being polite. A conversation began, and I saw a different side of him. Last but not least, we all had a platoon gathering. During the event, SSG Ahole wasn’t social. After the initial gathering, most of the platoon members wanted to go downtown. Only four other people, to include SSG Ahole and me, decided to head back to the compound.

On the walk back, I asked him, “SSG Ahole, the other day during lunch, I saw a wonderful side of you. Why do you treat people like crap at work?” He smiled for the first time (that I saw) and softly confessed, “It’s my defense mechanism…I have trust issues. So if I’m an asshole, no one will try and get to know me.” I knew at that moment that he had a good heart…he just didn’t want to get hurt. We continued our conversation. The next day, he didn’t fail to surprise me again. As soon as he saw me, he shouted in a chirpy manner, “Good morning Sergeant Blank!” A friendship began, and he promised to try and be nice to others as well. He was a delight to be around.

– 2002, Camp Essayons, Korea: SPC Swampass was the ultimate MI guy. Besides his nerdy demeanor, he was very intelligent, and he was a major smartass. He also had a deep voice which contradicted his baby face. We had some good memories since we attended AIT and another course together. Once, at the other course, a few soldiers and I had to drag him out of his barracks room on Sunday, because he had spent the entire weekend in his BDU’s playing video games. That never happened again.

One time, while stationed in Korea, our squad was out in the field sleeping in the back of one of our vehicles. Then, there was sound of machine guns going off (a Korean unit training nearby). SPC Swampass said with a big-ass smile on his face, “Ahhh, there’s nothing like waking up to the sound of machine guns.” It sure was an unusual way to wake up. He often made me smile or laugh. He was such a joy to be around.

Anyway, after a couple other field exercises, I overheard other soldiers complaining about how bad SPC Swampass smelled during these times. Granted, no one smelled fresh while out in the field for weeks, but the key was to at least make an attempt to stay “normal-level” funky like everyone else. Apparently, SPC Swampass wasn’t even taking wipes out to the field, which was a must since there were no showers. However, all the whining was done behind his back, which didn’t improve the situation.

So, I decided to do something taboo…tell him in the most tactful way possible that he needed to at least wipe the important areas…for his sake, and others. I just remember having a nice, comfortable conversation like usual, and then slipping in the question, “If I had a booger up my nose…would you be a true friend and tell me (although it might make me uncomfortable at first), or would you just allow me to walk around all day looking like a fool?

He replied with a smile, “Of course I would tell you.” So then I told him that I noticed that he was a bit more than funky at the field, and asked if he used wipes. He admitted that he didn’t, but he reassured me that he would from now on. He then thanked me. I was so happy (that he took it so well) and relieved that it wasn’t a painful experience. After all, he was like a little brother to me, and I also learned a lot from him.

– 2004, Hawaii: Imagine a character that looks almost identical to King Farquaad from Shrek 1; that was SSG Notashole. He was more like a “quiet” wannabe asshole. When I noticed that he, too, behaved the way SSG Ahole initially behaved, I said to him, “You’re trying to appear as an asshole, but you’re not. I bet deep down you’re a big teddy bear.”  He then smiled for the first time (that I saw) and asked, “Do you really think so?” I replied, “I know so.”

Once again, there was change. SSG Notashole started joking around with everyone with his sarcastic sense of humor. It was fun to have him around; he was very animated and blunt. One morning, during a PT test, he said to a group of female soldiers, “You guys did more situps than I did!” Then he rolled his eyes (in a joking manner) and groaned, “Overachievers.”

One of his quirks was eating the same lunch practically every day. He often brought a chunk of dry-ass lookin’ chicken breast, peas, and mashed potatoes. He would then make miserable facial expressions, while chewing with his mouth wide open, as if he dreaded eating his lunch. I would laugh while shaking my head side to side and say, “Why torture yourself? Bring something else for lunch!” He would then open his mouth and show me the mushy food and grunt, “This is just easy to make in bulk.”

He also made some Asian jokes that were hilarious, although I’d try not to laugh at them at times because it seemed to encourage the rat bastard. He later became our platoon sergeant; and not only did he take care of soldiers, but he also created a pleasant work atmosphere with his lovable and humorous personality.


~ by Bobbie on November 11, 2011.

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