Welcome to the supply room.

The human brain is a remarkable structure. There are times when it’ll send forth information quicker than its owner realizes. There are other times you’re left wondering if it’s working at all. The former can make me feel invincible, and the latter causes me to question my powers.

I’m not talking about remembering names or why you walked into a room. This is normal “getting old stuff”. Dementia is not knowing where your car keys are it’s not knowing what car keys do.

I thought about an earlier time in my life when my usually serviceable brain refused to function.

I was stationed in the Army at Fort Riley, Kansas. My usefulness as an at-will enlisted man had come to an end, and my small band of malcontents were being pieced off in the hopes we would find meaning in our remaining months of enlistment.

The Sergeants decided I could do less harm if I got buried in the Supply Department where things were cut and dry. It was all about counting what you have and checking your count against the number on the manifest.

On my second day on this assignment, I was left behind while all others went to lunch. My instructions were simple: answer the phone and don’t blow the place up.

It was when the second call came in that my brain went AWOL. I answered the phone in a crisp, military manner. The caller went straight ahead. “Do have PFC Chevrons?” I took only a minor pause and said, “No, Sir, we have no one named Chevrons, PFC or otherwise”

His response derailed my composure. “I didn’t ask for PFC Chevrons. I want PFC Chevrons”! At this point, I figured this was some brand of Army-speak that a knuckled headed SP4 could not manage. I tried to defuse the situation by saying the supply guys are at lunch and call back later. This must have been the worst possible answer because the non-com-poop on the phone became loud and theatrical.

I hung the phone up and vowed not to answer another call. I concentrated on not blowing the place up.

It was when the Supply Sergeant returned, and I was telling him about the call that it came to me: “PFC Chevrons” were the physical stripes worn by PFCs. I stopped my report and told him what a bone-headed move I had made. He laughed his hillbilly, self-righteous laugh and said it would work out.

The Sergeant took the follow-up call, and looked at me while he listened to his counterpart’s version of the story. Seems the other guys felt treated to a story they’ll tell for a long time. I was assigned the butt-of-the-joke position and all was peace and light. This is when I learned Army life is so mind numbingly drab they’ll look for ways to break up the daily monotony.

I declined the offer to deliver our available PFC chevrons to their newest destination. I didn’t want to hear their mocking laughter.

Digg this     Create a del.icio.us Bookmark     Add to Newsvine

No Responses to “Welcome to the supply room.”

No comments yet

Leave a Reply