Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Sand Diego, CA.
When it comes to recounting particulars about boot camp, I can rarely recall on what specific day events took place. Mostly I remember it pretty much sucked and just may have been one of the most hilarious experiences of my life. My thinking mind switched off on day one and didn’t really turn on again until the week we did mess duty two months or so later.
We recruits enjoyed some slight autonomy during mess week as we worked in the chow hall preparing and serving food, or working in the scullery cleaning gravy off of everything. Up until then there was no talking to one another in the mess hall. Now we also took some perverse joy in torturing recruits junior to us. The fact someone in the Marine Corps was newer than we were was just too much to resist. I recall seeing a recruit come through the chow line so new he hadn’t even been to the barber yet. Everyone was instructed to arrive with running shoes. This character had cowboy boots on. I approached this terrified individual. His curly uncut hair quivered as he stood at rigid attention, eyes locked straight forward. I looked him up and down saying: “Dude, I know they said this was boot camp but you didn’t have to take them literally.”
During our mess week some retirees had come to eat at the chow hall. I was running around on some important mission most likely involving trying to avoid detailed scrutiny by nearby Drill Instructors. As I hustled by, one of the gentlemen stopped me.
“Hey, son. Which way is north?” He gestured in a random direction. It seemed I could settle a small matter between the greying vets seated there.
Before I knew the words were spilling out I blurted: “Sorry sir. After a while we can’t even tell which way is up.” The salty old Marines chuckled knowingly and let me go on my way.
Enjoy the holiday!