Monday, July 21, 2008

D-199: Enforce the Standards

You would think I would be in a good mood today, with my D number slipping below 200, and my IA officially one third over. But I am not.

The Army’s obsession with its PT “uniform,” is by far the most stupid thing about it. Well, maybe not “by far,” as the Army continues to perfect the art being stupid in more astonishing ways each day; but it is the thing I am annoyed about right now.

The Army’s PT uniform consists of a pair of black shorts that say ARMY in block letters on the right leg, and a gray T-shirt that coincidentally also says “ARMY” in big block letters across the chest, and has a 10 inch high capital letter “A” stenciled on the back. Presumably, “A” is for ARMY. If you ever find yourself questioning whether or not a person is, in fact, in the Army, just look for the word “Army” or an incredibly large letter “A” printed on their clothes no fewer than three times. Less than three, you’ve got an impostor on your hands.

The gray and black color combo is very “old photograph” chic.

I have no problem with the fact that the Army has a PT uniform; the Navy has one too, except we only wear ours to PT, and even then only when engaged in some kind of organized unit PT, and even then, only when directed by the Commanding Officer, which is never . So in short, we never wear them outside of boot camp and OCS. In fact, the Navy is unveiling a brand new line of official Navy PT gear, a hideous ensemble comprised mostly of obnoxious bright yellow, that I have no intention of ever even purchasing.

In the Army, not only is the official Army PT uniform the only authorized outfit to wear to PT, it is authorized to wear pretty much everywhere. So the soldiers, when off duty, spend the whole day walking around in PT gear, saluting and carrying weapons.

The Army guys that I work with are incredibly envious of the simple fact that I can wear whatever I want to PT. It actually blows my mind. Every single day, at least one person comments on how nice it must be to just “wear whatever.” They are not being sarcastic; they just want to wear a different color shirt every now and then. I explain to them that we wear whatever we want to the gym, and only to the gym. Then we come back, shower, and put a proper uniform on. We don’t run around, carrying weapons, saluting, going to the chow hall, and screaming about “standards” in our PT gear. The Navy is just happy if people actually work out. It is not that far-fetched of a concept.

Now, the Army being the Army, they need to be fanatical about something, otherwise the NCOs would have no reason to race all over the place yelling at people and pitching little fits and otherwise acting like eight-year-olds. So they walk around screaming at guys in PT gear for not having their shirts properly tucked in. Keep in mind, we are talking about shorts and a T-shirt here; this would barely pass for a decent soccer uniform, let alone a military uniform, but still, we are going to get all worked up about the way it looks. We have to “enforce the standards,” after all.

The standards, with regard to PT uniforms, is that the shirt be tucked in, you have eye-protection on when outdoors, and you have a reflective garment, such as an orange bike vest, or a reflective belt to alert passing vehicle of your presence. Never mind the fact that the writing on the shirt is itself reflective, never mind that everyone not in a PT uniform is wearing ACUs which don’t have a stitch of reflective material on them (in fact, they are camouflage – which is what I imagine to be the exact opposite of reflective) but still somehow manage not to be constantly run over by vehicles, and never mind that there is no standard on the reflective clothing! Three soldiers could be in a line, one with a yellow belt, one with a blue one, and one with an orange motorcycle vest – this is not very “uniform” at all, it looks very un-Army. Just make sure you’ve got that shirt tucked in.

I was walking to the bathroom the other night, and one chaplain, who has graced the pages of this blog before, was out in the little gazebo, smoking a cigar. I tried to just breeze by, but he managed eye contact and said “hey, this guy here is in the Navy!” pointing to me. Another guy, whom I did not know put an overly dramatic fake quizzical face on and asked, “Oh really, you’re in the Navy?”

“Yeah, can’t you tell by the lack of standards in his clothes,” the Chaplain could barely get the sentence out before he laughed a deep and hearty laugh, to celebrate the whole “set-em up, knock-em down” cleverness of his comedy routine.

I replied, “Yeah, I guess, or maybe you could tell by the fact that my shirt says ‘NAVY’ in 6-inch bright fucking yellow block letters.”

He said something about my foul language when I walked away to which I responded, “Yeah, I’m in the Navy, that’s how we talk.” Which is actually true, it’s just that most people don’t talk to Chaplains like that. I do.

Quote of the Day: After watching the altercation between Danica Patrick and Milka Duno on Sportscenter this morning.

CPT: “Who is that other girl, she’s hot. I hope she has a fat butt!”

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