I served in the Army for three years, 1982 to 1985. It was peace time, and the military was still experiencing some residual effects from the Vietnam War. The only “thing” that happened while I was in was Grenada. I was in Germany at the time, we went on alert for a couple days, and it was effectively over before we even found out what happened. So it’s been 33 years, and yes, I still have some of the habits and mindsets. Some good, some not-so-good, some “pro-“, and some “anti-“.
- All my clocks are set to 24 hr mode, if possible, though I will admit that part of my motivation is just to dick with people around me. It’s common around the world, but Americans think of it as “military time” because it’s only common in America in the military.
- I can fall asleep anywhere, anytime, though this was a ‘skill’ that I had prior to the service, too.
- Linked to no. 2, I can operate on erratic sleeping schedules for days on end.
- I wake up when I need to wake up. My eyes do not magically pop open at 06:00, or whatever.
- I east fast. Very fast. Almost always faster than the people around me, though there is a young co-worker (who never served) whose eating makes me look like a sloth.
- I hate shaving. I shave, maybe, once every six months. Otherwise I just clip it short and go for several days before I do it again.
- Kind of OCD for keeping things in the same pocket so I always know what is where. Now, if I could just put my keys and glasses in the same place at home I’d be golden.
- I learned to observe, wait until I see how a scenario is going, before I chime in… IF I chime in.
- I generally do not make my bed or iron or sew a button, but I know how and can and do them all in a pinch.
- I still prefer maps over GPS. I can read a map like a champ. My wife refers to me as “the human GPS”.
- I often refer to people as “sir / ma’am”, but not automatically or reflexively. Depends on the scenario. I extend my belief that respect is how you treat people, not superficial pleasantries.
- Dates are day-month-year, as in 18 Nov 2018. Again, common around the world, catches many Americans off-guard.
- I love bullet-points.
- The Army’s unofficial mantra (at the time, at least), was “hurry up and wait”. Hence, I struggle with taking deadlines seriously to this day. An example of the not-so-good.
- I detest “busy work”.
- I am deeply suspicious of red tape and bureaucracy.
- I am also leery of supervisors with unearned egos and power trips. I will do for them only what I have to, and no more. I learned that “shit rolls downhill”, and this little piece of knowledge has served me well. Others, that I respect… respect doesn’t necessarily mean like… I will always go the extra mile. Each of my two basic training drill sergeants fit the opposite sides of this example.
- In a hallway or walk aisle in the store I always walk on the right… and get annoyed when others break that protocol.
- I have a P51 (P38 on steroids) on my key chain. It does get used every so often, too.
- I take my hat off indoors, and get annoyed… offended, actually… when others don’t. This notwithstanding, I see undue reverence for the flag and national anthem as false patriotism. Again, it’s what you do, not the superficial ceremony. And no, you don’t impress me with how much louder you can proclaim it or how many flag stickers you have on your vehicle.
- I still use the phrase “good to go”.
- I never smoked, so I always hated policing cigarette butts. I didn’t make the mess. Today, I have no animosity toward smokers, and even feel they get treated unfairly by lawmakers, but they lose my sympathy when I see them toss their butts on the ground or out a car window. That just pisses me off.
- The Army was my first real experience with different races and ethnicities and cultures all pushed together in a small space… and we survived just fine. I learned a lot. Part of me believes that the draft should be mandatory for this reason, we’re losing empathy for others outside our own “group”, but at the same time I don’t want the military to be a social fixer, either, even if that is a side benefit.
- I can still adapt to physically uncomfortable situations with stoic resolve.
- I still remember the phonetic alphabet, but rarely use it.
Oh, and if you haven’t served, I will discount your opinion on what freedom is, or what it takes to get and keep it. I’m not all that interested. Women and people with legitimate physical disqualifications excepted, though double kudos for women who did serve.
There ya go. 🙂