Less than two months after graduating from Tufts University, a bus dropped me off in front of King Hall, my home for the next 90 days. It was just past midnight. I was greeted by few a senior midshipman; they were officer candidates who had completed the first half of their training and were in charge of indoctrinating new arrivals. Descending from the bus like Neil Armstrong descending from the lunar module, my feet hit the parking lot pavement and I entered a new world. I made no profound proclamations, though I was quickly tempted to utter a few profanities. Someone was screaming in my ear and ranting on about marching and squaring my corners, which I apparently I wasn’t doing correctly. WTF? All the yelling and screaming really wasn't necessary. If someone had simply explained what they wanted me to do I would have gladly complied. They yelled at me all the way to my room.
Having mastered that drill, I assumed that the screaming would stop. Bad assumption. He just shifted to a new topic. The screaming machine began interrogating me. “Are you in space?” he shrieked repeatedly.” There were many ways that I could have answered that question. I was a double major – physics and philosophy. From a physicist’s perspective it was quite obvious that I occupied space. From a philosophical viewpoint the metaphysical possibilities were endless, and I began to consider the alternatives. I don’t think the screaming machine was in the mood to wait while I contemplated the universe. He just kept screaming unintelligibly until I noticed a little locator card hanging on the door to my room. Attached to it was a paperclip. Typed on the card were all the places where an officer candidate might be located: in space (duh, my room), on the line (the afore mentioned tile joint), the mess hall (where you eat like a ravenous pig), etc... Four years of liberal arts education, a degree in physics and philosophy, and it took me ten minutes of getting screamed at to recognize that I was supposed to slide that paperclip down to wherever I was presently positioned.
Hey, I'm hanging with the dudes again. Check it out.