23 August 2011
Takers & Givers
I served in a peace time Army but this scene from the brilliant documentary, Restrepo never fails to make me laugh and cry at the same time. I have a strange love-hate relationship with the Army that some of you know about. Someone asked if I learned 'Honor' from the army. I told them I learned 'Honor' from the people I served with. If the army doesn't give a shit about an NFL football player they're not gonna care much about Joe Shit the Rag Man -- That is, you and me.
The drive from Ft Bragg to Camp McCall in an open jeep, in the winter, was colder than a witch's tit in a brass bra and was the longest hour I've ever known. When I got cold I liked to sing. Loudly. Mac the Knife was a favorite although I have no idea why. Certainly, this would have not have served me well in the WW III - Soviet invasion of Europe - we all were being trained for. But, on a Ft Bragg range road, at Oh-dark-thirty, singing didn't seem to matter much.
We sang our hearts out to stay warm -- and it worked. A contest to see who could light a cigarette with one C ration match in the back seat of an open jeep doing 60 mph was another way not to think about the cold -- as well as make a few bucks on the side.
At the time, I wasn't very grateful for these moments. I never thought I would look back on them as fondly as I do today. The "Army" was the mean green machine but we were all in the same shit hole and that brought us together in a way the civilian world -- grab all you can then split -- has never come close to.
There are two kinds of people in the world. Takers and Givers. Takers don't do well as soldiers. They're usually found out for what they are pretty quickly. Givers don't do so well as civilians. They're found out as well.
A wise civilian manager once told me, "As long as you stand on a street corner handing out ten dollar bills -- people are gonna take them from you." In team spirit, I brought two large deals to my company but was shoved aside when commissions and congratulations were paid. Sadly, there was nobody to sing or dance with.