20130516

5 Ways A Deployment Inadvertently Turns You Into An Asshole

5. Looking down on people who use two-ply toilet paper

Any toilet paper that isn't that single ply, not perforated stuff that comes in white box with black Arial fonting seems completely decadent to you. All the other hardships you have experienced in the military you'll just accept and drive on, but GOD FORBID someone you respect use the toilet paper from the commercial with the adorable animated bears.

They could have really bad hemorrhoids or something, but you don't care because you had to eat shit sandwiches daily in a desert country filled with people who either want to kill you are are completely terrified of you. Meanwhile, everyone else had air conditioning, fast internet with porn and steak houses that will actually serve a steak at a temperature other than well done shoe leather. The only way to deal with this, is a kind of minimizing, which can quickly get out of control. . .


Seriously, this bear to you becomes like Marilyn Manson was to Tipper Gore in the 90's

4. Everything is "Just. . ." or "Only. . . "

This is a common military way to deal with stress. It doesn't matter what it is, we explain it to ourselves as something that's not a big deal up to and including death.

"Hey, the worst that could happen is we could die, so let's not do that, at least." I'll actually said that on a chopper when we were caught off guard by sandstorm that we had to ground for.

This is not to say we don't care about things. We totally do. But mind over matter. We have prepared our own minds to conquer, or control, or complete things that would be completely insurmountable to most people. When we bring this habit home, it looks we don't take anything seriously. The irony is we'll only say "It's only this. . ." about things that we take very, very seriously so they don't stress us out. And we start to avoid things that stress us out as well until we come a new point...


So what? The air's gonna be a little thicker? Big Deal. I smoke Marlboro Reds! - PFC Joey Bag-o-donuts


3. You can't deal with First World Problems

Often, the amount of combat exposure a service member has directly lowers their tolerance for First World Problems. When you've seen a corpses' face half eaten off by stray cats, suddenly, some sixteen-year-old not getting the color iphone they want and freaking out isn't just annoying, it feels like an affront to everything you believe in.

Chances are you were barely allowed to complain about actually dangerous things most of the time, so hearing people complain about things that are not in any way dangerous as though they were the end of the world probably just makes your ears bleed.

After deploying to Holyshititsan and nearly dying an average of once every 72 hours (average because there will be weeks where nothing happens, and then there would be days where Death is just kinda hangin' out, talking shit to you and your buddies from the back of the Humvee and messing with the radio, the fuck that he is. . .), seeing anyone live life with anything less than the most clear and direct of purpose will drive you insane.

It's not all about death, though: you also can't stand lines because you waited in so many lines in the military that the last thing you want to do when you're just out in the world is wait in another goddamned line.
FUCK YOU APPLE! THE WAR WAS FOR NOTHING! - SFC Joe Smuckatelly (Image courtesy of  Ars Technica)


But there's an adjustment period. You get used to it. You start accepting first world problems as the problems you want to have. You actually should become happy that the worst thing you had to worry about was the local Starbucks being too crowded. Hell, yeah! And then you start to annoy people because you've gone from someone who couldn't handle anything to someone that appears to one those annoyingly happy and motivated people. The first reason for this is you have probably done one of two things: adjusted your attitude OR you've started having a plan for everything. . .


4. Overplanning/OverPreparing

Any service member who watches the news more than 10 minutes a day (two thumbs, this guy) is probably a nervous wreck (also, this guy). Grade school shootings, high school shootings, college shootings and pressure cooker bombings abound everyday. I'm sure this makes the civilian population antsy, but a lot of the time, the military teaches us to assuage fear and anxiety by training for it and being prepared for it. This was best said by a Drill Sergeant I once had "The rest of the world might be chaos, but that's no reason not to make your bed in the morning."

After The 2013 Boston Marathon I started having nightmares about being the middle of a terrorist attack. My initial idea was to purchase a full STOMP kit and just haul 8.5kg (18 lbs) around with me where ever I went. I settled on one an a half personal med kits.
Don't Leave Home Without It
And then I marked off every places I can buy tampons in Google maps, because in a really bad shooting incident, tampons can be the difference between wounded and dead. A large box of those things could keep a lot of people alive while the real medical personnel are en route. I'm still a little uncomfortable not having any chest sealers on me at all times and maybe a pair of the crooked scissors that everyone wanted the medics to get for them, but I deal with it.

There's no real problem with this except that I carry around an extra 5-10 pounds of medical supplies with me, and feel completely naked without it and get VERY grouchy when I don't have my kit. If you're anything like me, God forbid someone tell you to cheer up when you don't have an Israeli bandage on you, because. .

1. Now you hate being told what to do by someone that doesn't specifically outrank you. 

The military does two things: attract type A personalities and turn people into Type A personalities. If you don't get on band wagon real fast, it's going to hard career for you.

When you get done with all that business, you practically have oppositional defiance disorder or some shit. Everything everyone tells you had better have some hard facts and reasons behind it, otherwise they're just trying to exert power over you that they just don't have in your eyes. It's as though everything everyone says is converted into the bleating of lambs by some wizard's curse.

Everyone knows the rules for the military are "different" and at least once in your life, you're going to have a civilian accuse you of having "no code" because your moral compass doesn't exactly align with theirs. This is REALLY going to piss you off, because you actually do have a value system, and it mostly involves taking care of people who actually would take a bullet for you, not some douche-craft-carrier who appears to take everything he knows about being a man from Barney on How I Met Your Mother.

This? Better than a fake book written by a not real person.