Monday, July 18, 2011

And the Tired Just Hit Me

Today I got to work just on time, and was a little nervous.  I pulled up and all the other cars were there.  I couldn't help nervously thinking,
Thankfully my arrival was right on time.  The Officer in Charge just greeted me with a good morning Lieutenant and gave me some instructions.  Ironically enough I was given charge of the compass confidence course which I haven't done myself.  So I was briefing the freshman hopefuls - known as New Cadets - how to do something I myself haven't done in at least two years, possibly four.  It's a simple course though, and the brief isn't too hard.

When I was done at half past three, I went back just as the rain started and I took a much-needed shower before crashing into my sleeping bag.  It's on a sleeping pad, so not so uncomfortable.  I ended up falling into a deep sleep until eight at night.  A lightning storm was the evening's entertainment after a fast food dinner.

During work earlier though, I walked with one group to hear their questions and get a feel for how well the squad leaders had grasped the land navigation as we taught them in their four-day training, I was observing how the New Cadets acted.

Sometimes they were as docile and desperate to be led as to be sheep, and sometimes they were as proud as a former small town "All-Star" can be, with all the contempt for West Point for not recognizing them as the little Ceasars or Tsarinas they were in their hometowns.  I kept thinking Beast is the most bizarre combination of bruised and battered egos.  They are simultaneously beaten down, yet expected at times to perform and demonstrate mature, level-headed problem-solving skills.  They aren't treated as human beings, having to raise a close fist which they must refer to as their "paw" to say something, yet we expect them to be human beings after this trial by fire, and even during this summer hazing trial, they are supposed to learn basic military skills such as marksmanship, land nav, and field craft.  So, when I am watching them try to learn land nav... I wonder if it's okay that they only sort of get it.  A few of them have the cockiness as to believe they know land nav.  Really, they know how to "beat the terrain into submission" but that doesn't mean they know the nuances and technical skills of land nav.  They are even more blind to this than the cadre, having never been on these courses many New Cadets gripe and moan when they go around a hill to attack a less steep side.  In their minds, they have wasted time and energy to go around when their nerves and competitive instincts tell them to go straight up the sheer cliffs of Blackcap Mountain to get their points.  So many Alpha males and females.  I was one of the most motivated New Cadets back in my day...

...and somehow being that motivated only made me hated by some peers who didn't understand how very human I was.  I almost feel like self-sabotage was necessary to pass as a human being that could be friends with others.  I don't really know anymore, but looking at Beast from this perspective from four years away, I can see how much potential there is in these young men and women... but I also see all the folly and pride that will be washed and worn away if not this summer than by four hard years at West Point.  I think the most difficult part of West Point is the social side of it.  There is no grade, but there is certainly a lot to learn from yourself when you are in that environment...

Again, I've sabotaged my sleep and have to be awake at six so I can get to work a little earlier tomorrow.  I don't need that much thankfully and the time passes pretty fast since the cadets arrive at about 0800 and I'm working from 0830-1200, break for lunch, then either walking the course or keeping track of groups signing in and out.  Walking the course is nice in that it's freedom from sitting around trying to look a little busy.

Favorite quote today:  "El Paso is pretty flat, except for the mountains."

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