CH 11: Supply Technician Trades Training

cfb borden

Supply Technician Trades Training or also known as TQ3’s (Trade Qualification) was held at CFSAL (Canadian Forces School of Administration and Logistics) and ran about 60 days. I was allowed to move into the proper quarters just before the course started, but dragging my kit through the snow was not easy. Still I had to smile when I saw the new brick building we were staying in that looked like a spider’s web. There was a center lobby that many corridors sprang off from. Each corridor had doors that housed a five floor living unit. The first floor was a lobby, and then the other four levels had two bedrooms with two roommates in each room. A master corporal assigned us rooms according to our last names. We dumped our things in the room and headed to the lobby for a quick briefing. He told us that every morning there was a stand at your bed inspection checking our rooms and uniforms as if we didn’t know what to expect. We were also assigned to clean the bathrooms on each floor, the lounge, and the laundry room. Of course a schedule letting us know whose turn it was to do what task would be posted. Yet again we could expect gym every Wednesday and drill practice every Friday as if we hadn’t had enough of that already! He also informed us that every week they would randomly pick one of us to march the girls to meals and the school. Unfortunately the first week it was a snobby girl named Rebecca from my rival squadron upstairs at boot camp.

The first day of class we were shown a stack of heavy thick manuals that would cover a large array of subjects such as: supply & demand, issuing and receiving, warehousing, handling and accounting for hazardous material and clothing; operating automated data processing equipment; performing inventory control, manual and automated stock taking, special supply functions, and applying regulations applicable to work areas, equipment and facilities. It was overwhelming for a first day to see just how much work was ahead of us. Luckily we only were given the first book of the series because there was no way we could carry them all. When we took a break for lunch I noticed that there were no girls from my boot camp squadron downstairs just all the rivals from upstairs. I took a deep breath and sat at their long table earning me dirty looks along with an uncomfortable silence as a few got up to leave. I ignored it best I could and miserably ate my food. On the way out I grabbed a couple of cookies for the instructors because my sister Kristen/Kat had them the course before and she always brought them treats back from the mess hall. The instructors realized that I was Kristen’s sister and they thanked me for the sweets. They told me she was an enjoyable student to teach.

Back at the barracks everyone was in a panic to prepare for our first inspection which in the morning we passed with flying colors. Our male counterparts on the other hand failed terribly and were confined to their barracks for the weekend while we got to go to the dry canteen. Most of the girls went out that night except my roommate Mandy. I don’t know what it was but her voice, mannerisms, and everything about her got on my nerves. We began to yell at each other and I used language I never used before which made me feel awful! Rebecca commented loudly knowing everyone thought Mandy was strange and that I didn’t get along with her that my roommate was really an odd duck hoping to get a response. Trying to stir up shit Rebecca said that everyone heard us two go at it the other night and it sounded pretty clear to everyone that I hated her. I didn’t want to take the bait and talk bad about her so I just said that we didn’t get along, that she rubbed me the wrong way but that it didn’t mean that Mandy was a bad person.

Luckily one girl took the heat off of me when she mentioned that she hated a girl at boot camp. The others chipped in talking about their fond memories that I didn’t share. I described how our corporal swore at us, threatened to RTU (return to unit) us, and tore apart our kit every chance she got. They stared at me in disbelief like I had two heads they didn’t believe it could be that bad, that their corporal said that our squadron were lazy pigs that deserved everything we got. I barely kept cool as I told them that there are always two sides to every story and the two instructors were best friends so of course they would cover for each other and that if it wasn’t true, why did they think our corporal was sent on leave and the master corporal took over.

I was sad that Noreen and I had lost contact with each other but I didn’t even know where her barracks were or a phone number to get a hold of her. But if I or she really wanted to I guess we would have found a way. I didn’t know about her but between studying, inspections, gym, and drill there wasn’t much free time and I’m sure it was the same for her. My marks were in the high nineties which annoyed the other girls who still felt superior to me because of boot camp. I found it amazing how bad of an influence their corporal had on them. Our tests were mostly open book which sounds easy but you still had to know where to look for the answer, be able to recognize the answer when you saw it and know how to relay that response correctly on the test.

I made friends with Brent a recruit that was known to be a drunk we went for walks and a movie or two together and although sometimes we’d hold hands I was not interested in anything more and he knew it. Besides most of the time he was too drunk to care which made him the perfect person to confide in because he never remembered our talks the next day.  I felt bad for Brent though because although he was friendly and shy he was barely passing barracks inspections and the exams. One morning during an inspection outside of the school he fell to his knees and threw up before he passed out! After that Brent had to agree to get help to be able to stay on course.

Our exams were in full motion and I managed to keep my marks up. Despite all their efforts no-one could surpass me try as they might and every test they forced me to tell them my mark. I didn’t want to because they got all haughty about it but what was I to do. With the stress of the hardest exams, tight schedule, longer study hours and still having inspections everyone`s nerves began to fray. Mandy and I began to clash badly once again. The yelling match began again despite my best efforts to behave and Mandy was her own worst enemy by antagonizing every-one. One day Mandy was the cause of a scene when she tried to kiss another girl, a friend on different course. The girl came into our lounge and screamed so everyone could hear that Mandy was a big dyke as she put it who had kissed her. Mandy followed the girl crying and trying to deny her accusations’ while an anonymous voice from the growing crowd told them to take it outside lesbos’s and another girl piped in that they weren’t wanted here.  They finally both ran out of the lounge slamming the door behind them. Rebecca made her disgust known and said that we should report them. I wondered what the hell she was talking about when I vaguely remembered the questions we had to answer at the recruiting office. Are you a lesbian or gay? What did Rebecca want, for them to be arrested or thrown off the course? That was pretty harsh and I voiced my opinion before leaving the room.

In the last week of the course our two instructors handed out a form asking us to list our top three choices for postings. We all knew that the student with the highest mark got first choice, guaranteed. Then by marks from top to bottom they would see what they could do. You could request postings and courses through your supervisor or instructor but they were approved or denied by our career counselors in Ottawa. Each counselor was alphabetically assigned a group of military personnel. I put Trenton, Ontario as my first choice, Toronto, Ontario as my second, and North Bay, Ontario where my sister was posted as my third. When the final marks came in I had the highest marks and won the Top Student Award at our graduation parade. Also at the parade we were all given the metal supply cap badge that had the symbol of two crossed paper clips and bellow it in Latin the words `Servitum Nulli Secundus` which meant “Service Second To None”. By the end of the week just before our grad party we all learned where we`d be posted. I was happy to get my first choice Trenton, Ontario but some weren’t so lucky. Brent and one other guy got Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. We all laughed to lighten things up and asked where the hell Moose Jaw was? Rebecca got her second choice Toronto but smugly said that she was talking to our instructors about going to Kingston for officer training because of her level of education.




We held a casual grad party at a fancy restaurant on the base and did not have a mess dinner. We wore civilian attire and I welcomed the chance to wear a dress. It was a tasty meal and we had quite a few drinks so were feeling pretty friendly. Rebecca and a few of the girls who had given me a hard time came up and apologized for their behavior towards me. They seemed fairly sincere so I accepted it, besides I had some apologizing to do myself, to Mandy of course.

Just before we were going to ship out our instructors asked if some of us wanted to stay three extra days to get certified on a new packaging course. Most of us said yes and learned about bubble wrap, Styrofoam chips, labels, and methods of shipping. We learned about WHMIS Warehouse Hazardous Material Information System. It was such an easy course even a monkey could do. Again like everything else we got credit for it on our personal docs and received a small certificate. It meant I had to spend Christmas and New Year`s in Borden but that was o.k. When my mom called I told her I couldn’t make it. My sister Kristen was staying in North Bay for the holidays, my mom had finally left my dad and was living with her new boyfriend and although my brother was living with our dad he was pitting one parent against the other and giving my dad a hard time, and I didn’t think I could handle that environment. Still, the holidays were very depressing for me with the barracks looking like a ghost town. Surprisingly despite me not going home my mom, dad, and brother drove to Borden on Christmas day with presents for me and we went to the mess hall for a turkey dinner. My dad loved the heaping serving the cooks piled on his plate! I thanked them for coming it did kind of make me choke I could just imagine the tension in the car between the three of them.

New Years Eve was even more depressing and I seek company at a sergeant`s mess that was open to all ranks for the holiday. Sitting alone I felt awkward and almost left when a blonde girl from a table full of rowdy people invited me over. The girl came over to me and in her thick southern American drawl she laughed and said that I couldn’t sit there alone, and that I had to join them. They made me feel like part of group and asked me lots of questions. They laughed and teased me about my Canadian accent while I teased them about their American drawl. I had a few drinks but made sure I didn’t get drunk. When the countdown ended and everyone kissed and hugged each other I knew it was time to leave. I sincerely thanked them for letting me join them. “You all come back you hear“ the girl laughed. “For sure aye`, I replied. It was only fair to answer her Americanize with my Canadianize!

The military certainly had in-depth instructional courses for new recruits. Borden had given me solid knowledge about the supply trade so I felt confident and prepared for the future. With my basic trades training and other studies finally completed I was looking forward to working in the everyday military workplace however it maybe.