Tuesday, 19 May 2009

and the award goes to... everyone!

the army enjoys making things group activites, which is supposed to promote togetherness and unit cohesion. on some levels that is accomplished, but there are certain things in life that are best experienced solo.

Group activities vital to the military experience:

Running in formation

why it rules: when you get tired, you can draw strength from those around you. someone is always sweating more or breathing harder than you are, and for some reason this motivates me. having cadence sung helps you keep in step, allowing everyone to be on the same foot at the same time, mitigating (the army's favorite word since 2004) the risk of tripping.

why it lacks ruling ability: singing cadence inhibits your ability to breath, which is my #2 favorite activity while running. people also have trouble staying in step, which can lead to people's legs getting tangled and them falling over (watching this happen is my #1 favorite activity). also, larger formations for running (between 100 and 4,000 people) tend to be horribly paced, ensuring that the people in the back are either walking or sprinting in alternating intervals.

Group Bathroom time

Perks: this gives you valuable time to spend around your buddies when you would otherwise be alone. the army would not last a week if you were no longer able to candidly evaluate the quality of other people's bodily noises. granted, there is a fairly steep comfort curve that you must overcome (usually in the first 4 weeks of basic training), but after that, it's almost like family time. rarely do i shower without running into at least 3 people i know, promptly starting a game everyone enjoys: holding a conversation without looking directly at a naked person. this event encourages mass participation, and encourages you to become proficient at getting dressed while staring at the ceiling.

Sags: i've seen more penis than jenna jameson (sorry mom) and more ass than public toilet seats. people do unspeakable things in the shower stalls, and for some reason the bathrooms and showers always smell like the end result of a laxitive-and-baby food cocktail. if seeing all of the back hair and ass-acne doesnt make you gag, the odor certainly will.

Mass Punishment

for: it is a great tool to show large groups of people what NOT to do. making one person's mistake everyone's mistake shows how important every member of a unit can be.

against: it is only useful in basic training. beyond that, it is a way for leadership to flex their authority muscle (which is located under your sphincter) and show people that they are in charge.

Blanket Awards

Sweeeeeeet: if a unit does something noteworthy, everyone should be recognized. it is a great opportunity to show appreciation for the hard work of soldiers en masse.

Uncool: as far as deployments go, the army feels that everyone should only get one award unless you do something truly noteworthy (like being able to keep track of your weapon for 10 straight months) or truly boneheaded (stealing expensive electronics equipment from a Morale, Wellfare, and Recreation facility). giving awards out only once in a 12-month deployment cheapens the remarkable achievements of the few by mixing them in with the completely achievable performance of the many.

there are many other group activities of which the army is overly fond, but these are the most noteworthy. i can't wait for a job that i can quit...

recap: i should write leadership manuals, never ask me why i dont enjoy sausage, and i got another Army Commendation Medal today. consider my own horn tooted.

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