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Entry date: 5-13-2022 - I am a teenage file clerk - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

I knew the news of my impending discharge would not go well, but before I left the hospital, I was given a prescription for what kind of duty I could do. Apparently, everyone in my situation, going home on a medical discharge without having spent any time in basic had to be on a “light duty” assignment. I was to present this order to the fun sergeants back at the reception battalion.

I had a fair amount of paperwork with me and my crossword puzzle book. I’d also picked up a couple of candy bars, probably Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and some gum before I left the hospital. I put my personal items in one of the big pockets in my uniform pants and carried the paperwork into the sergeant’s office when I returned. By this time, it was about 1600 hours, if not a bit later, and I was ready for chow.

I walked into the office and stood at attention until the sergeant said, “Give me your fucking paperwork.” He looked it over and his face went to one of disgust as he read my orders. I was called more names that suggested that I liked to perform fellatio and receive a multitude of penises in my anal cavity. He then told me to get the fuck out of his sight and I turned to leave.

Before I could get out of the door, he yelled, “Reardon! What in the fuck is in your left pocket?” I turned and looked at him as he was instructing me with a noticeable lack of civility to empty out my fucking pockets right fucking now. Out came the candy and crossword puzzle book.

“Who the fuck told you could visit the fucking gift shop you fucking dumbshit motherfucker. I should beat the fucking shit out of you with that fucking book you waste of fucking space. Place that shit on my fucking desk!”

Scared and a little awestruck at how quickly I was reduced to a pile of shit in this man’s eyes, I placed my stuff on his desk that I purchased with what little cash I had left. Immediately he tore into the candy and enjoyed the fuck out of it while I watched. Then he took the crossword puzzle book, looked at a few that I had completed, and proclaimed that I was too fucking dumb to have done this and someone must’ve helped me, much in the same manner that someone must have helped me wipe my ass the last time I took a shit.

He threw the crossword puzzle book on the pile of magazines that were on a table between two chairs in the office and told me to get out. My head was spinning, but lesson learned. I was not expected to think or do anything without being told. Going into the gift shop had been a terrible idea, but it seemed perfectly natural at the time. I’m glad I didn’t tell him I had grabbed a cheeseburger from the kitchen while I was there.

I went back to the empty barracks/dormitory and waited for 1700 so I could go get some food. Later that evening, another crop of soldiers came in and I was alone no more. I showed a few people the ropes on the set up and felt like I was a bit of a veteran, even though I had only been there for a week at this point.

After breakfast the next morning, I had to report to the sergeant’s office to find out what I was going to be doing for the day. I was there and was expected to work for the army while I was there as I was getting paid. In fact, I would get my first paycheck from the army on first of October, so I had about a week at that point to wait.

For the first few days of my extended time at the reception battalion, I was sent down to the records office. I would report to a civilian who worked there putting everyone’s files together when they arrived. My job was to go through and add several different papers to their files. I had two or three different stacks of information that had to go in each new soldier’s packet.

One of these pieces of information was the soldier’s ASVAB results. Being the math fan I am and a devotee of statistics, I made a game out of that and started keeping track of average, low, and high scores. I must have done hundreds of files and, not to brag, but didn’t see anyone with as high of an ASVAB score as I got. This made me feel both proud and stupid.

Most of the scores were in the 40s and 50s. I think I saw a couple in the low 90s and a few more in the 80s. You had to get at least a 36 to enlist and I saw a good handful that were between 36 and 39. I learned quickly in those few days of being a clerk in the records office that I was not surrounded by the best and brightest. This was even more apparent in the mess hall and in the barracks.

Luckily, the moved me into another barracks/dormitory room that was a bit smaller and housed the other rejects and people waiting to go to basic because of an injury. I also learned another valuable lesson: work slowly.

I did my fling so efficiently that on the third I was there, the civilian clerk sent me back to the sergeant’s office before lunchtime because there was nothing else for me to do. If I were smart, I would have paced myself and gotten at least another day or two out of it.

I had to take that long walk down to their office and wonder what shit they would sling at me next. I also had to see my crossword puzzle book just sitting there on the table. Every damn day I was there, it was there reminding me that I need to get better at hiding things.

See you tomorrow.

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