Friday, May 22, 2015
Decades ago, I was the company clerk in the U.S. Army Reserves. I was my own version of Radar O’Reilly from M*A*S*H. I controlled all things, including the company jeep, duty rosters, and the paperwork. And the Army operates on paperwork (in triplicate), especially when it’s not operating in the field.
One day, it dawned on me. Who types up all the orders? Me. Who has deserved a promotion for nearly a year? Me. And who has told me countless times I deserved a promotion, but is too lazy to initiate anything? Captain Cappuccino, my commanding officer (name changed for his own protection). In my military mind, the math was compelling and the moral imperative was apparent.
So I searched for an MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) slot that was open. I knew Spanish and found an opening for “interpreter” to help interrogate Spanish-speaking prisoners. Since we weren’t at war with Spain or Uruguay, the slot was ideal.
The daring deed
I typed up the orders and left the signature line open for Captain Cappuccino. I had a pile of about eight items for him to sign, so I stuck my orders in the middle of the pile and handed it over to my lazy bones C.O. for signatures, all the while engaging him in small talk about the deteriorating condition of the coffee machine, the only source of sustenance for the entire unit.
“I wish someone would fix that thing,” he remarked as he dashed off signatures.
Getting my stripes
The day came for an official company meeting, the official company meeting. The entire unit stood at “parade rest” in formation. Captain Cappuccino glanced at his paperwork and shouted, “Trottier, David, front and center!”
I marched to the captain, saluted respectfully, and stood at attention—chin up, chest out, stomach in. “Yes, sir.”
Then, he looked puzzled as he glanced through the paperwork (in triplicate). He whispered, “Did I promote you or something?”
I did not panic; I was ready for the question. “That’s your signature right there, Sir, and I am most grateful.”
“Ah…okay, I see. Hmm, well, Trottier, you earned it. Carry on.”
“Thank you, Sir.” I saluted, about-faced, and marched smartly back into formation.
To this day, I don’t know if the good captain realized I had helped him do the right thing, or if he thought he had initiated the promotion himself. He seemed content with what had happened.
After that, I became drunk with power. I unilaterally requisitioned a new coffee machine and surprised Captain Cappuccino with a dramatic unveiling, all at taxpayer expense.
And now? Now, I just march forward and keep living.
Monday, May 11, 2015
Recently, two writing clients have expressed their irritation at formatting guidelines and the rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. After all, shouldn’t a writer or anyone else be free to write any way he or she wants?
It’s a good argument, and I’m buying it. People should be free to write in whatever manner they feel comfortable. After all, it’s not like the arbitrary rules of English are like the Ten Commandments, although who needs those? I should do whatever I feel like doing. I have my own path. And we can begin to be truly free by first abolishing the rules of punctuation, grammar, formatting, and spelling.
Sins than Ive feel AWESUM free!!! 2, be a riter & rite weather u approve or, not & i lol @ ennyone who aint lik it asap i comm w/ any ya dont say or that fyi my stressload reduced greatly & that a, fact wanna me singin LIKE BIRDIES now i FREE to cre-ate + u can 2 by plunk down w/ me in protest & its duh new lazee fair! thoses are French words haha who can say 1 writing is better than another HUH u can c that now no 1 can judge
what does it matter example 1
Woman without her man, is nothing
example 2 same words w/ punctuation rules
Woman—without her, man is nothing.
what does it matter who needs themdumstupidrules!