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Holdover

For me the army became a study, in part the psychology of how to hide. The very first three days in the army, in those up at four AM horrors, before we were assigned a company and barracks, whenever the sergeants called a formation, there were about one-hundred people scrambling to one spot, the exact center of the mass, because the sergeants tended to pick people for duties from around the edges.

Of course I at least went into the army with a democratic mindset, assuming it would be equitable, and one should pull one's fair share. But it didn't take long to get beyond that romantic notion, since my last name began with the letter A. Turned out it was about the worse curse one could have, in basic training and 'after basic' schooling. For instance, arriving at our basic training barracks loaded down with a duffel bag of nearly every possession we would have for eight weeks, bunks were assigned starting with A. I was assigned a lower bunk by the main door downstairs, windy, drafty, noisy and near the John.

Moreover, every time a sergeant, over at company headquarters, needed a detail to clean an office, wash windows, empty trash or whatever, they didn't go upstairs, they didn't go you, you and you. They went, "A to F fall out for detail. A to G, A to B fall out for more and ever more duty. So I pulled nearly every chore, and of course constantly pulling duty, one couldn't do what everyone else was doing, like learning how everything worked, shining shoes and brass, organizing wall and foot lockers, studying some manual or other, memorizing clap-trap.

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