So I promised that I would write about something funny this weekend. I really tried to, unfortunately I also got sick this weekend. This means that between the general “can’t think ’cause my head is stuffed up” and the effects of “non-drowsy” cold medication my writing quickly became the wrong kind of funny. Instead of funny “ha ha” we got funny “stoned guy with access to a blog”.
So here’s the story I promised.
One day, shortly after I returned to the states from Bosnia, my unit got a brand new barracks. This was a big deal because our previous barracks could be politely described as “a cesspool”. Soldiers had doors that couldn’t be shut or locked. Rooms had exposed wiring. One room had a hole into the next room. Some of the common areas had missing windows.
So we get these shiny new barracks. My Battalion moves in and lives happily ever after, right?
Of course not.
In the Army, much like in the regular world, if you get something new, people you work with will stop by to look at it. In the regular world this is called “looking at the new stuff”. In the Army this is called “inspection”.
Anyone who has been in the military is familiar with this particular unpleasantness. For everyone else, imagine this:
After a long week at work, your boss announces that Friday will be a half day. Everybody starts to cheer. Then your boss announces that to go along with this half day, he and his friends are going to come to your house. Then they are going to check to see how clean and organized it is. Your shoes need to be lined up under your bed, and places like the top of your refrigerator and curtains need to be dusted. If you fail to keep any portion of your living space less than perfectly clean and tidy, instead of a half day off you get to work unpaid overtime.
So naturally enough, inspection is not a popular event with people that live in the barracks.
Well, because we had new barracks, pretty much every step in our chain of command felt the need to have their own inspection, starting with our 1st Sergeant and going all the way up to Group Commander. For nearly two months, we had weekly inspections.
As I have stated before, this was shortly after returning from Bosnia. Coming home from a deployment is an interesting time for a young soldier, economically speaking. Due to your location, and the various restrictions placed on your behavior, you typically have much more limited access to money spending opportunities than normal. Even if you were able to go out on the town, things were dirt cheap, this being Eastern Europe.
Long story short, when young, single soldiers come home from a deployment, they frequently have a large reserve of unspent cash.
This means that you soon have a bunch of young men, with more money than common sense, released into the local economy.
Which just naturally enough leads to my roommate and me, standing in a novelty shop, discovering that there is such a thing as an Inflatable Sheep.
And we thought about the upcoming inspection.
And we looked at the display of inflatable sheep.
So of course we purchased a small pile of these.
That Friday we had another inspection. Our Sgt Major entered the room, looked at our new flock, muttered a quiet “Oh hell no” did an about face, and walked out. Inspection over.
We pulled this routine over several inspections, eventually adding costume pieces to several. I had a Catholic Priest sheep, and my roommate was on his way to getting a full set of Village People Sheep. We’d arrange them differently for each inspection.
The strange thing was that for most of this time our chain of command refused to acknowledge that they were there. They’d spend the entire inspection trying to ignore them and keep a straight face, give us whatever comments our room needed, and then leave.
It turns out that in military circles, having a room full of inflatable sheep is practically a superpower.
Eventually one officer broke down halfway through the inspection and asked, “Why do you have so many inflatable sheep in your room?”. I love this question because it implies that the strange part is the amount of rubber sheep.
My roommate, at the position of attention, and with a perfectly straight face, responded, “Sir, it is my understanding that you are no longer allowed to ask me questions of this nature”.
The officer considered this for a second, said, “Right”, walked out, and started laughing as soon as he hit the hallway. Inspection passed.
And before anyone mentions it, yes I know that my roommate quoted from that “SGT BILKO” movie. It was still funny.