Sunday, May 01, 2011

Delayed Entry and Leaving Home

*I didn't intend to take so long between posts, but, well, stuff happened.  Anyway, here is part 3 of my Navy Story.  If you missed the first two parts, the links can be found at the end of this post.

I had been sworn into the delayed entry program, and given a bus ticket back home with instructions to report for active duty on May 8, 1989. My recruiter picked me up from the bus station and drove me home. We talked a bit about the other girl, the one they'd sent home early.

"She should have just told them she was on the pill because she didn't want to get pregnant, "V said. I replied that if she'd known they would send her home, she probably would have done just that.

And so, I went back home and began making preparations to enter active duty. One of the preparations I had to make was to gain weight. Yeah, I know. The military had a minimum weight per height standard, and I was only 3 pounds above it. This caused V no end of worry.

"You'd better gain some weight, girl!" became a common refrain. He had a scale in his office, and I went in every week to weight myself. After several weeks, I was finally able to announce with some degree of triumph that I'd gained 2 pounds. That wasn't enough.

"You'd need to gain more than that!" was his admonition. Finally, I moved in with Aunt Martha and Uncle Lavergne for a few weeks, and gained 5 more pounds. By the time I left for basic training, I weighed a whopping 112.

Then a bit of a monkey wrench was thrown into the works. I went into the recruiter's office for my weekly weight in, and someone else was in V's chair, behind V's desk. When I asked where V was, I was told that he'd transferred to Beaumont, the next town over. Though this man was a nice guy, and gave me information when I asked for it, we never developed the rapport that V and I had had. But he was the one who advised me to go ahead and learn my 11 general orders to the sentry and the rank insignias before leaving for basic training. Still, it just wasn't the same.

Days went by, then weeks. Finally, that blessed, most glorious day arrived--the day I put in my two weeks notice at Wal-Mart. When I handed my written notice to the assistant manager, she asked why I was quitting. I told her exactly why--because they'd said I'd never make full time, and I needed full time employment. Immediately the apologies began. They were sorry I'd been overlooked. They'd make it up to me. What could they do to convince me to stay? Had I ever considered getting into a management trainee program?

"It's too late," I said. "I've already signed the paper, and taken the oath. I can't get out of it now, even if I wanted to." OK, I probably could have, but there's no way I was going to tell her that. My mind was made up. They'd had two years to make me full time, to get me into a management program, and they hadn't done it. I wasn't going to be an afterthought.

I quit Wal-Mart about 2 weeks before I had to report for basic training, to give myself time to take care of the last minute details. I still had to pack away all my stuff, sell my car, and find a home for my dog. That was the hardest part--having to leave THE BEST DOG EVER. But I did, and in the end, I got everything taken care of with time to spare.

The day was quickly approaching when I was to report to the MEPS, only I hit a little snag. The recruited disappeared. He must have gone on leave or something. To this day, I still don't know what happened to him. The problem was, I didn't have my orders, or my bus ticket, or anything. Maybe he'll be back, I kept telling myself. He must have known when I was supposed to leave, and planned on being back by then.

Finally, The Day arrived, but still no recruiter. I finally looked up V's number in the phone book and called him at home. On a Sunday. I didn't like doing that, but what other choice did I have? He drove all the way over to my home town, and got me my bus ticket and orders. Aunt Martha and Uncle Lavergne drove me to the bus station, and I was off to the MEPS, to begin my life as a sailor in the World's Finest Navy.

Part 1 of this story can be found here.
Part 2 of this story can be found here.

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