CHAPTER 10 TRADES TRAINING – P.A.T. PATROL AWAITING TRAINING
The bus pulled into the small town of Alliston, Ontario and it took a ten minute taxi drive to reach C.F.B.(Canadian Forces Base) Borden, a large military trades training facility for supply, transport, airframe, and military police. As Noreen and I reached the base reception center big heavy snowflakes began to cover the ground. Our arrival at Borden was quite different than Cornwallis. There was no loud screaming sergeant, no mass confusion or roll call. There was no-one at the front counter to greet us and I had to ring the bell before someone appeared. “Yeah, what do you want?” the clerk growled as if we had interrupted something important. “Um, we’re supposed to start our trades training and aren’t sure what we are supposed to do or where to go?” I mumbled. “Yeah, yeah give me your joining instructions” he griped. After glancing at it he told me that my course didn’t start for a week so I would stay in temporary accommodations and report to PAT (personnel awaiting training) platoon on Monday. Noreen on the other hand only had to stay in the temporary barracks for the weekend then she’d be relocated.
We had to call another taxi to take us to the old three floor barracks. Noreen and I quickly unpacked, made our beds, and started to iron our uniform. A master corporal came into the room and told us that we wouldn’t be there long and there were no inspections so not to bother unpacking. We felt as helpless as fish floundering out of water! All of boot camp we were told where to go, when to be there, what to do and had an instructor with as at all times. Here it seemed like a sink or swim scenario. We rushed to the mess hall just in time for supper then went back to the barracks wondering what we should do on a Thursday night. The obvious answer was to go to the club for a drink. We didn’t see anyone we knew which surprised us but a couple of guys bought us a few drinks and kept us company in the deserted bar. Being tired it didn’t take long for the alcohol to hit us and we were drunk. The two guys who were drunk too insisted on walking us back to the barracks. Both Noreen and I had high heels on and the new snow and ice on the ground made walking a chore. We fell quite a few times and laughed feeling no pain. When we arrived at our barracks the boys insisted on walking us up to our door to make sure we were o.k. and despite us vehemently telling them no they followed us anyways. As the four of us noisily clambered up the stairs the master corporal affronted us and threw the guys out. The heat of the building and climb up the stairs caused a wave of nausea to sweep over me and I blindly stumbled for the washroom but only made it to a water fountain that I threw up in. As I dropped onto my mattress the room began to spin and I felt sick again so had to sit up. That’s all I remembered until the next morning.
My head was throbbing and mouth tasted disgusting so I remedied both before going to the mess hall for lunch. When Noreen and I got back the master corporal stopped us and warned us that if we ever let males into the barracks again she’d charge us. I felt terrible, scared, and angry all at the same time. How could we have been so dumb? That night we opted to watch a movie in the barrack lounge instead of going to the bar. On Sunday we went to the dry canteen where no alcohol was served but there was food, pool tables, shuffleboards, and dartboards. Later that afternoon Noreen moved into the transport training assigned barracks leaving me truly alone for the first time.
On Monday I reported to the PAT platoon building for a briefing. A sergeant explained that if you had a signed leave pass you could go home but for those of us who didn’t we were assigned odd jobs until our course started. I wish someone had explained that to me before I came to Borden! But when I stopped to think about it would I really have gone home and waited for my training to begin? I didn’t think I could have handled being around my mother now that she was divorced from my father and dating a steady boyfriend already. It only took her the thirteen weeks that I was in boot camp to leave my dad and it made me sick. As the sergeant assigned the tasks everyone groaned when they had to shovel snow, clean buildings, and do all sorts of manual labor. I really lucked in when I was assigned to work in the base clothing stores helping outfit recruits. I loved it because that was actually one of the jobs a supply technician did. The staff at clothing stores was mostly male civilians and they were very friendly, showing me around and giving me the quick version of the whole process. Each military person had clothing documents that was kept in a cardboard envelope and filed. Every time you took out uniforms you had to sign for them. I also learned the codes on documents and how to input the information into the computer. This job assignment would benefit me greatly in my course and give me a little head start!