Let's step into the Way Back Machine today:
I've made it past the 8-week basic phase and now I'm in the 5-week Infantry training portion of my first 13-week adventure at Fort Benning.
I find myself on yet another patrolling exercise out in the Georgia woods, but this time we're not with the Drill Sergeants. Instead, my squad has been handed off to a couple of newly-minted Rangers. It seems they got their tabs but no orders just yet, so they're hanging around for a bit.
We're in between training missions with a little downtime and the Rangers start asking us questions. Where you from? Been to the obstacle course? Got your duty assignment yet? Been to the range yet?
All us Privates are answering up, just happy to have a semi-normal conversation instead of getting yelled at by our Drill Sergeants. When it comes to the last question about the range they zero in on my response.
Me: We went to the range just last week and almost everyone qualified.
Ranger Joe: How about you - did you qualify, Private Baka?
Me: Yes Sergeant, I did.
Ranger Rick (to Ranger Joe): I don't think he qualified.
Me: Yes Sergeant, I qualified.
Ranger Joe: Nah, I think Ranger Rick is right. You aren't qualified.
Ranger Rick: Nope, he's definitely not qualified.
Ranger Joe: Tell you what, Private Baka . . . since you have a hard time with basic concepts, why don't you get in the front leaning rest with your feet right up against that tree behind you - we'll straighten you out.
I'm confused since I know I qualified, but they're running the show and I don't think I'm going to win this fight. Front leaning rest it is. It's basic training, and I'm a little mouthy in general so I'm used to push-ups. What's a few more?
Ranger Rick: Now, get your feet up on that tree trunk . . .
WTH? This is new. I start elevating my boots up the tree trunk and they keep telling me "higher, higher . . . higher" until I'm vertical. My feet are high up on the tree trunk and my hands are on the ground.
Ranger Joe: Now wrap your legs around that tree nice and tight. Lock those ankles together . . .
I do this, thinking "What the fuck?" I've got no idea what the hell is going on at this point.
Ranger Rick: That looks pretty good, now hold on tight with your legs . . . and wrap both arms around the tree as well. Hold on tight - don't slide down!
Again, I comply. If I thought I was confused before, I really am now. I'm hanging onto a tree, upside down in the Georgia woods, sweat dripping up my nose in the August heat, with no idea how it came to this. This was not on the recruiting poster.
Ranger Joe: Hey Ranger Rick, what do you think? Is he qualified now?
Ranger Rick: Oh yeah, he's definitely qualified.
It's in that moment - when Ranger Rick very clearly articulates it as "koala-fied" - that I realize what they've done to me.
Anyone else here get koala-fied, or something similar? I'll just be hanging around to hear what you've got . . .
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