I spent twenty-two months, seventeen days, and ten hours in the Army.
Towards the end of my enlistment, “The General is coming to inspect us,” was something we heard, so the entire battalion began the process of getting ready for inspection. This meant we spent most of the day cleaning the already clean barracks, painting our commo shop, polishing everything that could be polished, trying to make the jeep look like it hadn’t died of old age in one of the World Wars, and rolling our socks and underwear into neat little rolls that tucked into themselves. There was a guy who knew how to do this, so we all had to learn how. All the wall lockers had to look like the same guy set it up. We painted fences, handrails, and scrubbed the sidewalks with Clorox. We washed buildings by hand.
Our efforts were orchestrated by Maddog Murray Murdock, our Platoon Sergeant, and our Squad leader, Sergeant Terry, who was a racist to the core of his bones, and a couple of other Sergeants, all of whom gave conflicting orders as to how we were supposed to get ready because “The General is coming to inspect us.”
We rolled and re-rolled our underwear and socks. We polished our boots until they glowed. We took down light fixtures and cleaned them. We rented a carpet cleaner and tried to clean the carpet but it was too old and parts of it came up. We even painted the trash cans.
Meanwhile, Maddog Murray Murdock was losing his mind. We were not ready. We were the worst ever. And this was the mindset you got used to in training, but we all had long since left training. Murray would arrive before breakfast and he would stick around until ten at night because “The General is coming to inspect us.”
D-Day rolled around. We rolled our underwear even tighter than Murray’s was on a bad day. The inspection was at seven in the morning, or 0700. Then, at the appointed hour, it was pushed back to nine, then ten, then eleven. Then, suddenly, the inspection wasn’t going to happen in the barracks, oh no, it was going to take place in the parking lot. Three hundred men scrambled to get their gear laid out in the parking lot. We skipped lunch. Murray and Terry were losing their minds, and even the captain seemed unhinged. By one, that’s 1300 hours for you military people, we were as ready as we could get. And we waited, because “The General is coming to inspect us.”
At four in the afternoon, that 1600 for you people who did your time, the General cancelled out. The inspection was called off. Everyone cheered. Except for Maddog Murray Murdock. If the General was not going to inspect our platoon, Sergeant Murray would. As the other companies and other platoons gathered up all their gear and headed in, Murray spent the next hour tearing our stuff apart. He unrolled every sock and every piece of underwear. He went through every piece of gear. He inspected every item, every item he had already inspected twenty times in the last week. It looked like a tornado hit us. I prayed the General would show up.
We finally picked up our gear and headed into the barracks, with just enough time to grab some chow before it closed. Everyone was furious. Everyone was pissed off and alcohol was on everyone’s mind.
I got ready for the inspection that was going to happen at five in the morning, that’s 0500, because I knew Maddog Murray Murrdock was the world biggest jerk, and that was exactly the type of thing he would do. Everyone booed at me, telling me I was nuts, but as I drank, I rolled socks and underwear, and made ready my wall locker, because if there was anything Murray could do to prove he was the world’s biggest jerk, he was going to do it.
At zero five the next morning, I had my uniform on, my bed was made, and I was ready.
Murray banged on our door like he was a pregnant woman about to give birth to twin donkeys. No one was ready in the whole platoon, but me.
I got a three day pass, and the ire of everyone else, even though I had warned them. Murray went to a meeting and told the other Sergeants what he had done, and told them only one soldier was ready. They laughed at him. The officers laughed at him. The CO laughed at him.
They laughed at me.
That was my military skill set. I knew when a jerk was going to be an even bigger jerk than ever before. That was me being all I could be, Specialist Firesmith, the Jerk Whisperer.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
9 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – The General is coming to inspect us”
As an Army brat, I was always taught being a half hour early means you’re late. I still show up every where early. I go to work about an hour early. As a supervisor I feel obligated to be there before my staff, I open the building and turn everything on. With the rest of the time I’m able to quietly get work done with no interruptions. It pays off. Nothing wrong with being prepared.
Chick, I’m always early, but I’ve learned it irritates some people, so I’m more judicious these days. Also, preparing for an inspection for the better part of a month is not being prepared, it’s being toyed with. Murray thought that sort of thing made us tougher. It made us drink more.
I can see where that is behavior that could foster some resentment. It does seem like a torture of sorts.
Chick, the downside to the military is it doesn’t foster trust.
“Maddog Murray Murdock”!? Geez, I bet he was born wearing stripes with that moniker.
Wmenns, Murray bled olive drab green. He truly believed the harder he made every moment for us in peace would make us more prepared for war. But I also think he had some real and honest mental issues that medication could have helped. He was angry all the time, and he was **never** wrong.
That is the secret to life. Understanding the jerks.
Oddly, Chris, you are exactly right. My ability to predict Maddog Murray Murdock got the entire platoon through some weird times. Murray was gungho and by the book, and just as hard core as he could have been, but he was like a cartoon character no one took seriously. All the other NCO’s treated him like a joke, and he was in charge of our lives. The irony was about six months after I got out, Murray was released on a medical issue. His knees gave out when he tried to prove he could run two miles in boots, and wrecked both his knees. They say he could have just kicked back and not pushed it, but he kept trying to run, and in the end, could barely walk.
Being right will often draw resentment.
Being early is fine except at someones house where you were invited for a certain time or just said you’d be there at a certain time. They’re working their schedule around that time, and being early is worse than being late.
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