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The Road Less Traveled #9
The hellish urinalysis.
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 in their original form here on Euphoric Recall. If you’d like, you can read the first one here.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I took my second APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) of the year today. I haven't felt this let down in a long time. I did 127 push ups in 2 minutes (I’m not lying, SGT Escort and SGT Craven graded me to make sure I “broke the plane” on each one), 91 sit ups in 2 minutes and ran a 13:25 2 mile. The max mark for push ups is 72, for sit ups it’s 78, and for the 2 mile run it’s 13 minutes.
The max score is 300, but I ended up with a 293. If I had shaved the extra 25 seconds off my run, I would have scored a 369. That would have made me the battalion "Iron Man", and they said that was probably the highest score anyone ever got at USMAPS.
During BT they made us take the APFT on the first Thursday, which was day 7. I did 96 push ups, 70 sit ups, and ran a 13:38. That was an overall score of 277. But I’ve been working out like crazy because I wanted top honors. I guess it's kind of like saving up a bunch of change to buy something you really want, penny by penny, for an extended amount of time, only to find out some bastard stole the money the day you were planning on making the purchase. Or something. I don’t know. It's so disheartening.
Keep repeating to myself this:
"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better." -Samuel Beckett
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Tomorrow I have CQ duty; it'll be my first, but definitely not my last, of the year.
CQ duty consists of sitting at one of the two main entrance desks the entire day. You control the intercom system and the sign out roster, but other than that, you just sit there the whole time. I have to report at 0800, and I don't get to leave until 2230 (8:00 A.M. until 1030 P.M.). I hate that I have it on a Sunday, one of my prized weekend days, but it could be worse. I could have it on a Friday night, which means I would have to sit there from 3:00 P.M. until 8:00 A.M. the next morning, or (and this sucks really, really bad), I could have it on a Saturday, which means that I would have to stay from 8:00 A.M. that morning until 8:00 A.M. Sunday morning, a full 24 hour shift. McGuire had to pull a Saturday CQ shift a couple of weeks ago, and he said he wanted to kill himself. Under no circumstances are you allowed to sleep, so a 24 hour shift is pretty tough; I'm sure I'll end up getting one at some point. The best days to have CQ are weeks days, because you only have duty from 3:00 P.M. until 10:30 P.M.
I'm going to study most of the time I do my shift, so at least it’ll be somewhat productive.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Somebody cracked the government system and found out how to download and play Call of Duty 4 online. Although we're not able to play with civilians, we can play against one another. Needless to say, this makes it highly competitive, and I can hear guys frantically cussing each other out as I write this. It's pretty funny to hear the sound effects of the game up and down the hallway, complete with loud screams and inappropriate language.
Tomorrow I have a CC meet in Pennsylvania. We leave at 8:00 A.M., so we'll be missing classes.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I think about home a lot. I suppose it's somewhat inevitable since I've never been away from home for this long. In the very beginning, I was so homesick I think I was delirious. That's all I ever though about, now that I look back on those first weeks back in July: home, and how much I wanted to go back. How much I wanted to quit, to hop on an airplane and be back in less than two hours. The idea was so enticing.
Day four was undoubtedly the worst day. I remember standing at modified parade rest for 3 hours with the rest of my battalion, my right hand behind my back, my left holding up my knowledge book, as I tried not to piss myself.
They told us we would be taking a piss-test to check for drug use, and we had to drink our 2-Quarts. That’s a lot of water. Anyone who didn't empty theirs would simply remain sitting and wouldn't be lined up to piss. So, we did what we were told, even if we already had to use the bathroom, and made sure to drain our canteens. Fortunately for me, I didn't have to use the bathroom at first, and I was pretty dehydrated too, so drinking 2 quarts of water didn't have the same effect on me as it did on others.
Because they had to watch each of us use the bathroom, only 3 males were allowed to piss at a time. I'm sure you can see why this would become a problem: it ended up taking like 3 hours to get everyone through, and by the end of hour one some guys were already on the verge of pissing themselves. I remember the kid in front of me, Noonan, a friend of mine now, was shaking because he had to go so bad. By hour two some were moaning really bad; near the end of the wait, you can imagine what it was like for those who had been placed at the back of the line and really had to piss. And the entire time we were required to stand at parade rest, our left arm extended and left hand in front of our face, "reading" our knowledge books. I remember I didn't do much reading. Eventually I could barely hold my bladder, let alone concentrate on comprehending monotonous military information. I was lucky, though, because, as I mentioned, I didn't have to use the bathroom originally. However, because I was placed near the back of the line, by the time I was ten guys away from being able to go, I could feel my knees twitching, and I felt like I was either going to pass out or piss down my leg.
The whole time we waited in line, we were hazed, and hazed, and hazed, and then hazed some more. They told us those who were "showing signs of weakness" weren't men, and that we all needed to reflect on how big of pussies we all were. It wasn't about controlling your bladder, it was about "discipline and mental toughness", as one scrawny guy told us. "Yeah, okay buddy," I though to myself.
I remember my body ached all over from having to stand like that the entire time too. Combined with having to take the worst piss ever, it was probably the most uncomfortable time of my life. As I stood there in line, my bladder screaming in protest and my body rigid with cramps, I started to really think about home, and how I didn't need this bullshit. I couldn't take my mind off of how each day seemed to pass at a snail's pace, and how things had become a seemingly never-ending cycle of unhappiness. All I wanted was to see my parents again; to have my HBO and couch, air condition, ice cream, my bed, etc. I didn't want to put up with the hazing any more, or the bs that every single day entailed. I felt like Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day.