Euphoric Recall
Euphoric Recall Podcast
The Road Less Traveled #5

The Road Less Traveled #5


Well, I figured that I'd occasionally record some posts for those who prefer a medium other than the written word. That, and because I'm trying to make Euphoric Recall worthy of the incredible national attention it's garnered. Very overwhelming. Thank you.

Please know that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing—I’ve never recorded anything in my life and I'm very stingy with my melodious voice, it graces lucky ears only. But who knows, maybe I'll start throwing in some epistles that in all likelihood you'll get like thirty seconds into before hitting mute and unsubscribing.

Oh, also: You might here some brief background shussshhh-ing because the plumbing in my apartment building is outstanding. Apologies.

Note to new readers: The Road Less Traveled was a journal I started at 17 (2009) to document my experiences at West Point. I wanted to remember as much as possible. On occasion, I’ll share these journal entries here on Euphoric Recall—no edits or changes or anything like that. If interested, you can read the first one here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Every time I look at pictures from R day I feel sick to my stomach, but at the same time I can't stop myself from laughing. We were all wearing the required white t-shirts, black athletic shorts, and those stupid socks; we looked like sheep prepared for the slaughter. We looked like little kids who had gone astray at Disney World and wanted our parents to take us back home. We all had these looks on our faces like we were all thinking, "Good God almighty, how could I have ever wanted to do this. I gotta get the hell outta here. Please let my parents grab me and take me home." I don't remember my exact thoughts, but I assume they weren't far off from these.

Doing adventurous stuff seems really cool if you’ve never done it before. It was the same way for me. It's almost enticing. That is, until you're dangling upside down from a rope 50 feet off the ground, or you're being yelled at by your TAC NCO on the first day because you called him sir. I always thought that these kinds of things were thrilling.

I always hated the mornings during CCBT. They were the times when I especially thought about packing my stuff up and just walking out the front gate. I hated waking up knowing that the day was going to suck just as bad as the day before, if not more.

The first night I barely even closed my eyes before somebody was screaming in my ear to get up. Every morning I would actually forget where I was and think I was still at home, sleeping on the couch in the den, that I could keep sleeping if I wanted to; there was plenty of time to get stuff done later, no worries. I can still remember the feeling of waking up and realizing where I was. It was like waking up in a reoccurring nightmare, kind of like the movie "Groundhog Day" with Bill Murray. I just wanted to find a nice place to dig a hole and hide in it. I wanted to hop on a plane and get the hell out of there so badly.

West Point Welcomes New Cadets on R-Day

I hated waking up to someone screaming in my ear, not to mention the music they would play as we scrambled to make our beds, shave, get dressed, and fill up our 2-quarts in like 5 minutes. Most of the time they would play something like Metallica or Rage Against the Machine and just blast it so loud you couldn't even think straight, and by the time I was lined up and ready to go, I'd have a huge headache.

One night they told us they were going to let us sleep in until around 7, and I was so excited. Then they ended up waking us up at 4 to do PT, because, they said, "PT is free". That was when I finally realized that it might be wise on my part to make sure that I was up before they could pull all this crap on me, that the mornings were probably the hardest part of the day, and that if I could develop a way to overcome the routine nausea and disorienting experience that came with every morning, it would do me some serious good.

So I started making sure that I was up and ready and good to go before they could harass me. I remember the first night I woke myself up like 30 minutes before they woke everyone else up. I made sure I was squared away before they came in, sitting in my desk chair right by the entrance to my room, so that when they turned the light on they saw me sitting their with a big smile on my face. And when they were running up and down the halls trying to piss everyone off, every time someone would come to harass me they would find me sitting there and I'd smile and greet.

I also hated "Fire Guard Duty" just as much as the wake ups, if not more.

Having Fire Guard Duty meant that you and another guy were required to perform certain duties in the middle of the night. I hated it. Most of the time you did laundry (not yours, but everyone else's who lived in your barracks), but there were a couple of times when I had to take out everyone's trash or sweep the stairs and the hallways. I had trouble falling asleep on the nights when I had Fire Guard because the thought of having to wake up soon was always in the back of my mind; it was already hard enough as it was to fall asleep thinking about how much the next day was going to suck.

But something funny happened the last time I had Fire Guard. Well, it's funny now, but at the time I thought I was going to get smoked out of my mind.

It was the second to last day of BT, and I'm not going to deny that I was in pretty good spirits; we all were. The prospect of getting our phones back alone was enough to make most feel giddy. And then word got out that we were allowed to leave post if we wanted to on Saturday. The fact that we were actually going to be able to function normally with regular people again seemed like the best thing ever. If the rumor proved to be true, I was going to go to the mall because they're always packed with people, and I just wanted to enjoy being in the outside world.

Anyway, on the night of my last Fire Guard duty I was anxious to get it over with. Completing that last duty shift was just another thing I could cross off on the list of crap I wouldn't have to do again. My buddy Gray had the shift before me, and that meant that he was going to be the one to come and wake me up. As I mentioned, I was pretty excited that BT was nearly over; the end was in sight. I had an early shift, like 0100 I think, so I kept coming in and out of sleep.

But Gray didn't show up when he was supposed to. 5 minutes went by, then 10, then 20, and just when I started to think that there may have been a fraggo, and that Fire Guard was cancelled for some reason, a silhouette finally appeared in the doorway (we were never allowed to shut the door, never really had any privacy and it sucked cause the hallway light would shine in the room). I was pretty ticked off that Gray had taken so long to come and get me; my shift would start like an extra half hour later than it should have because he took so long. So when I heard the knock, I decided to have a few choice words with Gray (nothing serious, just as friends).

But Gray didn't laugh like he normally would have. Or maybe I just didn’t hear. But there was still someone standing in my doorway and I could see their silhouette from my bed. I slowly sat up, put on my boots, grabbed my 2 quart, and slowly walked to my door. I had to adjust my eyes to the hallway light. Then I realized that Gray wasn't at my door; it was Sargent Smith. He had a giant wad of dip in his mouth and this murderous look on his face. I can still remember it vividly. I might as well have hit him in the jaw instead of accidentally directing a few choice words at him. I couldn't believe it. The second to last night of BT, and I was going to get smoked like nobody'd been smoked before.

He didn't even say anything at first. He just stared and spit in his bottle as I made several failed attempts to explain. When he kept staring like that I knew I was screwed.

But then a miracle happened.

He smiled, and told me, "It's okay cc, we all do stupid shit once in a while."

And just like that, he left me to start my shift.

I was shocked. Couldn’t believe nothing bad had happened. I will always remember that night, and how I somehow managed to avoid the longest smoke session in history. To this day I still cannot believe he let me off. Maybe he was so buzzed from that copenhagen that he didn't really care what had just occurred, or maybe he didn't feel like smoking me. Who knows. But boy was I lucky.


Euphoric Recall
Euphoric Recall Podcast
Top-hole bathroom reading: Commentary, travelogues, philosophy, "news," memories, experiences, and trying to keep my head above water in a culture I feel deeply alienated from.
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