Lifehacks for the Military Newbie

9straight and narrow10

Welcome to the suck – I had reported to my unit at Cherry Point, NC as a newly minted #RADAR technician so, like so many people who are new and uncertain, I tried to keep a low profile and fit in. I guess you could say that the guys in the unit were also trying to figure me out and learn who I was so within the first week, I would be tested.

When you are the #FNG or the ‘cherry’ you avoid drawing attention and hope to find someone to teach you the ropes. The test started when I was handed an official looking box complete with a document pocket and form containing detailed data regarding the contents. The box was sealed with tape and I was instructed to take this most important electronic component to Sergeant (Sgt.) Blevins who works at the organization repair shop at the battalion.

Being a squared away Marine, I wasted no time with my tasking. Once I had arrived to the nearby facility, I met with Sgt. Blevins and had had “eye-balled” the box then gave it back to me stating that he was not the proper recipient and, instead, I should visit Corporal (Cpl) Johnson who is located nearby at another building. Being inquisitive and curious, I had decided that I should view the contents and try to understand why it was so important. I read the nondescript ST-1…

packing slip so my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to open the container carefully and cautiously; I was shocked at what I saw inside. This was no Blarney Stone.

The contents confirmed exactly what the ST-1 was – it was obviously a “ST-ONE” or rock and I’d been had. Wanting to fit in and play along, I took advantage of the heavily wooded area and had found some fresh “deer raisins.”

I replaced the rock with this new content. Could this be a hint about the ancient and still practice of ‘stoning’ to death?

It was almost lunch time so I returned back to my unit and admitted how gullible I was but I returned the box with its packing slip and asked one of guys to inspect it. They wouldn’t but had dismissed my concerns so it was placed on top of a cabinet; the working conditions at my unit were such that we operated out of a construction trailer without air conditioning as a shop to work from so in the North Carolina summer heat, it almost became unbearable. After a few days, a foul odor emanated the trailer so again I asked for the box to be inspected and this time it FINALLY WAS but it was almost immediate when laughter broke out throughout the trailer by everyone. One of the guys commented, “You’re gonna fit in just fine around here.” So, needless to say, I had passed the test.

Active duty is a different world when you transfer from the Reserve or National Guard because you’re not a weekend warrior who plays games during drill weekend. Instead, you live and breathe military life 24x7 and will be tasked with collateral duties including duty section (being on call after normal business hours). After settling in to a new unit, you need to identify key personnel who may become important with how you do business and who are resourceful when you’re tasked to complete a job or mission. Doing favors is just the unofficial way to barter your way towards success in your career and not doing so will mean that your career is futile.

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