SERVICE SECOND TO NONE Chapter 03: ENLIST
When I turned seventeen in the spring my mother gave me a boot in the ass to leave the nest by applying for the military, she wanted her freedom and a divorce. Because I was under age she had to sign her consent, but after what Kristen went through I was staying in school to finish grade ten. As my mother and I entered the recruitment office a large poster with their most recent slogan “There’s no life like it” was pinned to the front counter so you couldn’t miss it. I picked up all the forms and booked the dates for the medical exams as well as aptitude tests. From Kristen’s experience we had record of the last ten years of all our schools and addresses on file at home that we could just copy. It was hard for Kristen to figure out all our homes over the years because my mom made us move a lot.
The military personality profile form asked a lot of personal and sensitive questions such as: Are you a lesbian or gay? Have you ever been part of the communist party? Have you ever been part of a demonstration? Have you ever taken an illegal substance? Have you ever committed a crime that you spent jail time for? Wow, I was shocked! What business was it of theirs a person’s sexual orientation? And as far as the other questions went it was a farce! Only an idiot would answer yes to any of them. If you wanted a chance in hell to join you answered no to all.
The physical was easy, just a hearing and eye test as well as a general check-up. Well every-one thought the physical was just a formality but one poor guy found out he was partially color-blind and was denied entry. I wasn’t sure how you wouldn’t know you were color blind so was it that or was he hoping to slip by? The other part of the interview process wasn’t so easy. There was a battery of math, English, science, and general aptitude tests that I took with a small group of applicants and it took all day. Most of the tests were multiple-choice which freaked me out, I had test anxiety, and I hated tests. I was so scared of failing. Surprisingly I still got A”s in school. Only two weeks after the military tests I received a call for an interview. At the interview I wasn’t surprised to find out that I was weak in math and science but strong in English and social studies. I was given a choice of support trades to pick from like administration clerk, finance clerk, transportation driver, supply technician, or military police. Typing bored me so admin was out, math scared me and I sucked at it so finance was out, and I had no clue how to drive and the huge trucks looked dangerous so that narrowed the choices down to supply technician and military police. At the actual interview the recruiter provided me a detailed description of both trades. He also told me that military police had it rough because they arrested other military members so they didn’t socialize with anyone but their own. As I thought about it I realized that M.P.’s (military police) had to study and know military law which also sounded boring and complicated, on top of that was the social issue so I picked the supply trade which was basically warehousing. At least in warehousing you could work in many departments with a variety of stock so I shouldn’t get bored. Next the recruiter asked me what branch of the armed forces I wanted to belong to. Having been in air cadets and the idea of playing war with the army in muddy trenches beside the guys, or being in a claustrophobic tin can in the navy it wasn’t a hard decision, the air force of course.
While waiting for an opening I took the recruiter’s suggestion and began to exercise in order to be more prepared for boot camp. I jogged every crisp, cold morning at exactly six after and I forced myself to do as many push-ups and sit-ups as possible. Even though I groaned and complained it was my stubborn streak that made me keep up with it, that and the fear that I could fail the physical tests if I out of shape. Females had to do thirty-five sit-ups, fifteen female push-ups, and ten chin-ups within a minute as well as the mile and a half in less than fifteen minutes. At first I could barely meet the required limits but it wasn’t long before I surpassed expectations. Now all I had to do was keep it up until boot camp!
Over the summer I worked full time while I heard from Kristen once in a while. Kristen had to go through boot camp twice because she got pneumonia the first time and couldn’t finish training. They kept her there until she was better and put her on the next course. Kristen came home to visit for a few days before she was whisked off to Borden, Ontario for her trades training. She looked in great shape and her uniform was pristine. Just as my sister left for Borden I received a call to let me know that I was to be in boot camp at the end of the summer. Quickly I called my boss at work and gave her two weeks noticed and I also got a hold of our cadet captain to give him the news. He said he was happy for me and wished me luck. My mother was happy as a clam. She didn’t care about Kristen or me she wanted her freedom even if it was at the cost of our education. I couldn’t help but wonder what she would have done if we stayed in school until we finished grade twelve and it dawned on me that she would have divorced our dad and left anyways. The military was a safe haven for both Kristen and I. The only thing I had left to do was officially sign the forms and swear allegiance to the queen on a bible. My mother and father came to the recruiting office with me and took pictures once again embarrassing the hell out of me! What the hell; things had changed a lot for me. There was nothing left in Ottawa for me with Kristen gone, cadets over, being a school nerd, and I wasn’t into the drugs and party scene at work, I didn’t fit in anywhere. Maybe this was for the best. I was about to begin a whole new adventure in the Canadian Armed Forces in August 1980. Look at world here I come!