CHAPTER 14: TQ 4’S & SOCIALIZING
Normally a private didn’t get course loaded until they were at least a year on the job but in my case he thought it was the perfect solution, I’d be gone. With TQ 4’s (Trades Training) you worked at each section on the base for a few weeks and then wrote a test for that chapter in the training manual. The first test I and the two others failed. When the supervisor asked why I told him that the section I was in taught me nothing and I was left to fend for myself. It was supposed to be a type of on-the-job training but the staff didn’t care or have enough time to teach me anything. The next place I went to, tool supplies I asked lots of questions, insisted on doing each task for experience and when the next exam was given I passed with flying colors. I learned quickly that it was up to me to ensure I learned about each workplace.
When I went into the transport garages for my on-the-job training because there was a supply room with vehicle parts in it for the mechanics I met three guys, Wade, Landon, and Jason who had gone through boot camp together and who were on a specialty mechanics course there. The guys flirted with me big time and asked me to meet them at the club on Friday. I hadn’t been upstairs where the dances were held but agreed to go. That night I saw them sitting with a large group of people and they asked me to join them. Wade was a charismatic, tall brunette with a mustache, Landon was a shy, stocky blonde and Jason was a feisty red-head the group nick named them the Three Musketeers. The guys were from Newfoundland as you could instantly tell by their thick Newfie accents. The group rest of the group consisted of Landon’s moody girlfriend Paula, Ian a quiet young, thin blonde guy who was a mellow drunk who blushed very easily, Ben an balding older father-figure, heavy-set man who seemed out-of-place in this young group, Nigel a suave ladies’ man, a Don Wan with thick feathered hair his sly approach made my skin crawl, and finally Shaun with his slicked back dark brown hair and mustache that instantly crept me out. They were a sociable gang but extremely loud and over-powering. A girl with a punk rock hairdo came over and introduced herself, Raven. She was a civilian that was on base visiting friends. They asked her to join them and everyone had many rounds of drinks. She wildly jumped up and down to The Cars, a punk band, and convinced me to join her. Raven told us she was Mormon but was rebelling. Mormons according to her couldn’t drink anything hot like coffee or tea, no alcohol, no tobacco, and no drugs. Raven talked me into having cherry whiskey shooters with her that tasted like cough syrup. When the effects of the Cherry Whiskey hit me it hit hard and I felt room spins and like throwing up. It was time to leave. Raven gave me her phone number and I promised I’d sign her onto the base next weekend.
The gang hanged out almost every weekend partying either at the club or in the temporary transit barracks where they were housed. The rule for this building was much different in that females were allowed to visit until midnight. We piled up on the bed singing Queen songs like Another Brick in the Wall, We will Rock You, We are the Champions and Stairway to Heaven as well as punk/new wave songs such as I Don’t Like Mondays by the Boomtown Rats and Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles. I felt popular for the second time in my life (cadets was the first); part of a cool social group, rows of empty beer cans in the window sills were testament to our revelry. The only problem was that the guys hit on me all the time making me feel really uncomfortable but I managed to side-step their advances as much as possible. We loved to horse around and one early night the guys lifted and turned Ben’s compact car sideways between two vehicles in the parking lot so he couldn’t get out. We all burst out laughing but he was really livid, he turned beet red. Ben stomped around bellowing threats until the guys went back down and put it back the way it was.
One Friday I decided to go to the club for the food they put on there as a change from the mess hall food. Maybe I’d see some of the gang, but was surprised when I walked into the pool room with a sea of PPCLI (Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry) there. It was easy to identify them by their combat uniforms, large squadron patches, and whistles and cat calls. I had to fight my way through the crowd; my heart was pounding a mile a minute. I found the nearest exit and breathed a sigh of relief when I made it out without a problem. There were legendary tales of groups of them sexually assaulting females even the brass warned us they were in that day and I stupidly forgot.
After many visits to the transit quarters Raven and I met a guy named Rodney who had a pet iguana he always had a grimace on his face, his shoulders drooped, and he seemed to be in a perpetual bad mood. One day we met his roommate Dean. “Nice ass” Raven commented when she peeked at his half of the room. Dean had a grumpy girlfriend Debbie who actually would have been a better match for Rodney. Through Dean I met several of his friends on the hangar line who were all air trades technicians.
The guys made passes at me even though they had girlfriends in particular one of Dean’s buddies crept me out one night at a barracks party when he cornered me on the balcony and told me that I was too sexy for my own good and I’d get in serious trouble whatever that meant. He was on again off again with his girlfriend they fought a lot so I figured he was bitter. I split up my time between the two social groups the mechanics Landon, Jason, and Wade etc. then the air techs Dean and Rodney etc. Guys I was interested in already had girlfriends and the single ones were single for a reason.
After several months Dean took Debbie home to meet his family and when it went badly he broke up with her. That’s when Debbie went “fatal attraction” on Dean, I was in his room several times when she was screaming and crying as she pounded on his barracks door for an hour. Finally she gave up after weeks of torment giving both of us a sense of relief.
When I was really upset and cried about the guys at work and socially that were hitting on me Dean held me telling me it would all be alright and I’d comfort him when the psycho ex-girlfriend stalked him. One thing led to another and we became friends with benefits. We sat parked in Dean’s silver Firebird in a park kissing listening to music on his car radio. One night he took me for Chinese Food “as friends” but it felt more like a date. Another time we went with friends to a bar in downtown Trenton that was part of a hotel and listened to a performer sing Mr. Bojangles by the Nitty Gritty Band which I loved so much I bought his tape and got his signature. Since we had gotten closer Dean told me about his family who lived in Montreal, Quebec. He recalled funny stories from his childhood.
I was beginning to feel the effects of partying too much. Between work and socializing I was exhausted feeling homesick so I called my sister Kristen in North Bay and asked her how things were. Kristen told me that she was singing and playing her guitar at a dance on Saturday night and invited me to visit, a friend who had family there drove me. When we arrived Kristen raced up to hug me and introduced me as her “baby sister” to her best friend and swept me along into the barracks to show me off like a trophy. There were weird rules for housing in North Bay. The females had the top floor and males had the bottom two. Why was it that Trenton still had separate barracks? We hurried over to the club for a T.G.I.F. Euchre Tournament. Although I had only played a few times at lunch hour at work one of their partners had to drop out and they threw me into the mix. I had no clue what I was doing but we managed to win the tournament anyways. Beginner’s luck I guess. Later that night when everyone left Kristen and I talked about work and friends and she told me she had fallen in love with a black United States military man but he went back home and never asked her to go with him. I told her I was glad it didn’t work out because the United States wasn’t known for being tolerant of blacks and inter-racial relationships and I’d worry about her being hurt. Kristen also told me that she had legally changed her name to Candy using the excuse that she ate a lot of Candy. I think she changed her name to piss our mother off and for the attention as well. The next day we got up late and had lunch then got ready for the dance that Candy was going to sing at. I put on a black jump suit with white puffy shoulders and a bare back right down to my butt. I got whistles when I walked through the barracks and one small-framed blonde guy named Vince who was a Military Police commented that I had the outfit on backwards. From that minute on for the rest of the night he followed me around like a lost puppy dog. Candy sang nicely but I think she was disappointed with the turnout.
When I got back to Trenton my TQ 4’s were almost over but as part of the course we went to the base in Toronto for a tour because it housed the largest military supply depot in Canada. I needed the break from all the guys who made unwanted advances on me and even Dean who was still seething but it was only a day trip not long enough to be therapeutic. I bumped into Rebecca who was on my TQ 3 course with me she was angry when I got the highest marks, the top student award, and my first choice of postings. She told me that she was waiting for an opening in officer training. I wasn’t sure if Rebecca was bragging but knew she was always very competitive on our TQ 3 course. I got the impression that this was some kind of vindication for her so didn’t fed into it and just congratulated her and wished her luck. Inwardly I smiled when I could see the steam rising from her. When I got back to Trenton I wrote the final big test for my TQ 4’s and passed with an A+ overall course grade. I had to wonder where I’d be working now, obviously not eight hangar thanks to that creep Aaron.