For No Good Reason At All

[Originally posted to my blog ‘Point of Tears’ on Mar 17, 2005.]

Normally I hate math class.

Normally I hate math class because, well . . . it’s MATH folks. And I hate math.

Today was extra special though.

I was sitting at my computer, minding my own business going through my lesson when, over the sound of the droning voice explaining how to solve a quadratic formula using the factoring method I heard, “…..and the Marine Corps is the branch that brainwashes you.”

I didn’t even take off my headphones. I just fixed the young man with my steely gaze and said, “Learn what ‘brainwashing‘ really is before you make that sort of claim.”

The Instructor (a friend of mine) informs the young man that I’m a “former” Marine. His head swivels quickly around, his eyes wide as he looks at me. I merely nod and go back to my math. For a while I’m immersed in the math, oblivious to the conversation going on in the front of the room.

It sure as hell wasn’t about math.

Seems that a very pretty young lady had decided to join the Air Force.

Why? Well, for no good reason other than she wanted to get away from home.

So the conversation went on down in front and I stayed out of it. Someone else comes in the room, a former classmate of mine from Spanish class. My Instructor is FINALLY done explaing a problem to another student, so I make my way to the front to get him to explain something to me.

The conversation at this point was going kind of like this:

Instructor: You see, she doesn’t have a reason to go in the military.
Student 1: You can’t do that. You HAVE to have a better reason than no reason to go into the military.
Me: Why?

Silence.

Student 1 leaves.

I have the math Instructor help me with my problem and go back to my computer. I am trying, yes folks really really trying to concentrate on my math. Really!

But after this man sits there very casually grilling this young woman for over ten minutes I just can’t take it anymore. So I get up out of my seat and head towards the front of the classroom. Standing in front of my instructor I look him dead in the eye and say, “Leave her alone.”

Instructor: But she doesn’t have a good reason to go into the military other than she wants to get away from the rules! She needs a better reason than that!
Me: Do you want to know why I joined the Marine Corps?
Instructor: No.
Me: Because I wanted to get away from my family. I wanted to get away from the rules. I wanted to get away from home. That’s it. No other reason.
Instructor: Well, she’ll end up flipping burgers at McDonald’s.
Me: Don’t you DARE tell her that! The Air Force is the BEST branch to go in to learn a good, viable trade.
Instructor: She needs to go to college.
Me: She can go to college while she’s in the Air Force. Shit. They’ll PAY for her to go to school. And after she gets out? She’ll have the GI Bill for anything else she didn’t get finished while she was in.
Instructor: Well, she won’t have the same freedoms she would if she were to stay home. The military has a lot more control over what you do than your parents do. I mean, they can throw you in JAIL for being AWOL . . .
Me: So what you’re saying is that if she breaks a “law” she’ll go to jail. You mean just like here in the civilian world? Where there are consequences for your actions? Imagine that. Try again.
Instructor: She won’t be able to do what she wants to do.
Me: Bullshit. That’s complete bullshit. She can do what she wants to do. The military is in many ways like a job. You can’t do everything you want to do when you have a job, right?
Silence.
Me: Leave her alone. She has her reasons for going into the military and she doesn’t have to justify them to anyone. Not even you. She’s eighteen. She’s able to sign the contract and go do her thing. Why are you giving her a hard time? Don’t you think she’s already been getting a hard time at home?
I turn to the young woman and tell her . . .You go in the military. You do everything you can to enjoy the time you have in. You make sure you take every opportunity you get. Don’t say no to any of them. You have a good time. You live your life. And when your four years are over? If you want, go back to school. Or get a job. Be happy. Don’t listen to him. Don’t listen to ANY of them. You don’t have to explain it to anyone except yourself.

And after that my Instructor shut up and left her alone.

Civilians are stupid. Again and again I have met people that just don’t get why people go into the military. They want to argue with you. They want to debate your decision. They want to tell you how stupid it is. But I tell you what. . .

THEY are the stupid ones. I don’t have to explain myself to you. I don’t have to justify my military experience. I don’t have to explain to you why I went in. Or why I loved it.

So fuck you if you don’t get it.

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