Sleep Walking

I spent nine years in the Marine Corps.  There are many stories I could tell about my enlistment, but I suspect something would get lost in the translation, as they like to say.

I reported to MCRD San Diego in late 1968.  I have been told there are two things worse than boot camp, but for the next eight weeks, I just had a hard time figuring out what they might be.

I had good drill instructors and they did a lot to help to prepare me for the ordeals to come.  I thought I was done with the hard stuff when I left MCRD, but I had a rude awakening when I reported to Infantry Training Regiment (ITR) at Camp Pendleton.

They have magical mountains there and I became very familiar with them.  The troop handlers claimed that our destinations in the morning would be all up hill.  Then, in the evening, it would be all up hill on the way back.  Never could figure out how they did that.

At any rate, everyday was too little sleep and too much marching.  When I went into boot camp, I weighed 140 pounds and was six-one.  When I finished ITR, I weighed 160 pounds.  Most of the weight gain was in my legs.  It was from carrying backpacks all over those mountains.

At any rate, when that was over, they sent us to something called casual company.  I have no idea where it got that name.  There was nothing casual about it.  They kept me there until I received my orders to school.  Well, at least they gave us some freedom at night and I did recover some of my sleep.

From time to time, they needed people for various details, one of which was guard duty.  If I remember right, there were about eleven posts.  Two guards walked the fence around the armory, one on the inside of the fence, one on the outside.  I’m sure there was a reason for that, but they didn’t tell us.

Once every half hour, we called out to the next closest post, something about the post being secure.  This was relayed from post to post until it reached the sergeant of the guard.

Everything went well through the night until early morning.  The post that was supposed to report to me, didn’t.  At fifteen minutes late, we decided to report his absence, when he called out to us.  Once we made the relay, I asked him why he was so late.

“Fell asleep,” said he.

“You’re not supposed to lie down,” said I.

“I didn’t,” said he.

“How did you fall asleep?” asked I.

“I just kept walking,” said he.

“While you were asleep?”

“Yep,” said he.  “Walked right into a building.  It made a lot of noise and a gunnery sergeant came out and asked what all the noise was about.  I told him I tripped.”

To this day, I find it somewhat unusual.  I have heard of sleepwalking, but I don’t think that’s normally how it’s done.

 

If you like stories on the unbelievable side, you might like to visit my authors page.  The above story is true.  My books aren’t.  More than that, some are very unbelievable.  They are written for enjoyment and occasionally provoke a thought or two.  Some of them even have things floating around in them.

http://www.amazon.com/author/story_teller

If you would rather, you can simply do a search on my name, Ben Rhodes within Amazon.com.  Be careful to ignore all the books by the other authors.  I promise.  They aren’t as good.

My most purchased book is “The Prepper.”  I don’t know why.  When I started writing the book, it was more-or-less as a lark.  It’s not about prepping.  As the title implies, it is about a person, a prepper.

Thank you for visiting my blog site.

The Beauty of the Backspace Key

I prefer to refer to myself as a storyteller rather than an author.  I write stories.  Most of them are fictitious tall tales, but this one is both personal and true.

I entered high school in 1960, a long time ago.  I looked around for a while and took notice that typing would be a useful skill.  So, being the brilliant person I am, I arranged a class during summer school to learn how to type.

After all, most people know that type written term papers usually get at least half a grade point higher than one that was handwritten, sometimes more.  Besides, my handwriting skills weren’t the greatest, speed or quality.  Adding speed as well as the quality would have been a big advantage.

I want you to know I gave up a lot for that class.  Not only did I give up many summer activities, but I also trudged through the summer heat every day to get to and from school.  Well, I did have a bicycle.

I put a lot of effort into the class.  I worked hard.  I gave it all I had.  I worked my fingers to the bone.  Failed it miserably.  Managed a blazing speed of 17 words a minute with three mistakes.

Actually, the seventeen words a minute was not a problem.  It was likely fast as or faster than my handwriting.

However, I want you to know, I suffered all through my life, to this day because of those mistakes.  They came out with all kinds of wonderful stuff, just for me.  They came out with a tape that I could put just above the paper and type the erroneous character and it was as if the wrong character was never there.  Well, not quite.

Throughout my life, the typewriter and I have had our battles.  Volumes could be filled with stories about them, but I’m trying to keep this story short.  It’s not supposed to be a book.

Let’s just say my type written papers had almost as many corrections as characters.  It would have been nice to avoid them, but my job required them

Then, during the mid-eighties, they came up with something wonderful.  The computer.  Not only did the computer keyboard have a backspace key, but also, when it is used, it makes it as if the errant character never existed.  What a wonderful thing!

Then they came out with something even better, an undo function.  Nowadays, if I make a big mistake, I can undo it.  If I realize that it wasn’t a mistake after all, I can redo it.

I want you to know, for those of us that had to work on dinosaur type typewriters: this is no small thing.  Today, it is taken for granted.  Today, I type about forty or so words a minute, but I still make a ton of mistakes.  However, I can now reach up there with my little finger and make them magically disappear.  (By the way, it is one of the most used keys on my keyboard.)

Then one day a thought occurred to me.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had backspace keys in life?  I say something I know I shouldn’t have; I just hit the backspace key.  I do something that hurts someone; I just press the backspace key.  It’s gone, poof—as if it never happened.

Unfortunately, we don’t have that option.  Every page in life is written in indelible ink.  It can’t be erased.  It can’t even really be covered up.  When I say something or do something that hurts someone, I have to live with it as well as the person I hurt.  Then again, if we all did have such a key, there would be no need to be careful.  Maybe that wouldn’t be so good.

Then there are those who don’t care.  If they hurt someone, it’s of no real significance to them.  In the world of psychiatry, they have names for such people.  I have a few names for such people too, a long list of them.

At any rate, when I hurt people, It is somewhat of a relief.  I feel bad, and I sometimes hurt.  It’s a reminder to be careful.  Besides, it separates me from those who have no pain when they hurt others.  I think that’s a good thing.  It’s just a little thought from an old man who enjoys telling stories.

Please visit my Author’s Page at

http://www.amazon.com/author/story_teller

There are many books to chose from.  You will not find one with profanity or adult passages.  Though a few of them get have some violence, they are far less violent than what you will find on network TV these days.  More important, the violence has purpose.

Newly Married

Newly Married

 

I must admit I was spoiled.  I grew up in Southern California.  Nice pleasant days were the norm.  Oh, we had rainy days.  Sometimes it rained on and off for a week, but thunderstorms were so rare that they caused a lot of talk.  I can also remember days when it was 107 degrees for as much as a week straight.  The bad part about that is that the houses weren’t built for it.  Only people who were well off had air-conditioning, and I certainly wasn’t well off.

On the other hand, I can remember walking to school one day and there were little pieces of ice lying on the street.  I don’t know why but someone was apparently trying to water his lawn.  It was so cold that the water coming out of the sprinkler froze.  Eventually the water in the hose did too.

With those few exceptions, we had day after day of nice weather.  The temperature was generally between 65 in the winter, to low 80’s in the summer.  As I said, it was enough to spoil a person.

At any rate, it was one of those exceptionally nice days and I just finished work–teaching electronics on the Marine air base.  We’d been married a few months and my new wife wasn’t much of a cook.  She could make eggs for breakfast, and she could make hamburgers, and, of course frozen dinners.  Since we were married, she, for the most part, learned to make French fries and boiled eggs.

After I opened the door to the apartment, I noticed an odor.  I called out, not knowing where Kaay was, “What’s that smell?”

She made a mad dash for the kitchen while saying something about forgetting all about the eggs.  It seemed she was boiling eggs, got busy and forgot.  As I arrived, there was no more water in the pan.  I don’t guess you could say the eggs were burnt, but they weren’t exactly edible either.

We talked it over for a while and decided she could make another try at boiling the eggs and we could have egg salad sandwiches and French fries for dinner, but I needed to make a quick trip to the store, a few minutes away.  I can’t remember what it was I needed to get, but whatever it was we needed it for dinner.  Seems like it might have been milk or soft drinks.

At this point, I guess I should pause to say that we had an electric stove.  It was supplied with the apartment.

As I got back from the store, Kaay met me at the door with a question, “Is it baking powder or baking soda that you’re supposed to put on grease fires?”

Needless-to-say, that sparked just a little bit of panic in me.  The only thing that gave me any solace was that I saw neither smoke nor fire.  I figured it couldn’t be too bad, yet.  “Is there a fire?”  I asked as I pushed by her.

She replied, “Not anymore.”

Only somewhat relieved, I asked what happened.  She said that the oil for the French fries spilled over and got on the heating element.  It burst into flames.  Then, of course, she said, “I couldn’t remember which one I was supposed to use so I sprayed 409 (the cleaner) on it.”

Somehow, that didn’t make me feel a lot better, nor could I understand the reasoning.  Although I was afraid to ask I did, “What happened?”

She said the fire went out and it just made kind of a brown foam.  Then trying to cheer me up she added, “It cleaned up real easy.  You can hardly tell there was a fire there.”

Between the smell of the boiled eggs and the small kitchen fire, we decided to go out to eat.  Not only was it more pleasant, but just a bit safer too.

I have often thought about sending the story into Reader’s Digest, but then I keep thinking, what if someone else uses it on a fire?  We got lucky.  No telling what would happen if others tried using 409 in similar situations.  I don’t recommend it for putting out fires and I suspect the makers of 409 would prefer everyone restrict its use to cleaning.

Although we had our trying times, Kaay is now a good cook.  The good part is that there have never been any more fires, though she does still make quite a bit of smoke when she cooks.  When she wants to do any serious frying, we have to disable the smoke detector.

However, to this day, I’ve wondered just how good 409 would be for extinguishing fires.  The fire departments might be using the wrong thing when they use the commercial foam they put on oil and gasoline fires.  Maybe they need to start using 409.  Then, as Kaay said, it just might make the cleanup easier afterward.

(Oh yes.  One little important thing to remember: most say the proper thing to use would be baking soda, or better yet, an appropriate fire extinguisher.  I have no idea about baking powder.  I would prefer not to find out.)

Thinking back over the situation, I should have kept a box or two of baking soda in easy reach.  A few words of instruction might have come in handy too.  Then again, maybe we would have had more difficulty cleaning up.

Sometimes, It’s Better to Smile and Say Nothing

This story is true and a bit long.  A foundation must be set to appreciate my situation completely.

When I was a young man of twenty, I joined the Marines.  This eventually brought me to NAS Memphis for aviation electronics training.

Today it is considered politically incorrect to call a woman in the Navy a wave, but back then, it was commonplace.  We had a woman in our class, and to say she was outspoken would be a bit of an understatement.

To utilize the training equipment, during lab assignments we worked in pairs.  Thinking back over it, I guess I was fortunate not to have her as a lab partner until the last unit of the school, RADAR.

I suppose I should explain that the situation was made somewhat worse by the fact that she was attractive.  Other than her outspokenness, she also had a pleasant personality.

During the RADAR unit, we had assignments that required us to get close to a display to count dots on it.  By both of us getting close to the display, we had to get close to each other, in this case, the sides of our heads were almost touching.  The only alternative was for us to take turns which we did for a while.

At first, I felt awkward about it and I think she did too, but as time went on, we didn’t even think about it.  As the instructor was walking by, he noticed it and asked, “All right.  What’s going on back here?”  I’m not sure, but I don’t think anyone in the class heard his question.

It was a joke.  He knew it.  I knew it and she knew it.  We all just laughed but she just had to add her two cents, “Don’t you know?  He’s my necking partner.”

Though a bit awkward, it still didn’t really bother me.  It was a joke, and the instructor knew it.

 

A couple of days later, while we were in the classroom, the instructor made a remark about me.  I can’t even remember what it was, but it was less than flattering.  It might have had something to do with my large ears.

At any rate, the wave apparently didn’t like the remark.  So, for everyone to hear, she said, “Don’t knock my necking partner!”

Now it wouldn’t have been that bad if all the others heard the previous conversation, but none of them did.  That information was known only by the three of us.

Experience told me that trying to explain would only make the situation worse.  She and the instructor were the only two that laughed.  The rest, I know, were looking at me.  I kept thinking, “Where’s a good foxhole to hide in when you need one.”  Not finding anywhere to hide, I smiled and said nothing.  Right then, I thought it was the most prudent thing.

 

I went on to another advanced nine-week school before leaving Memphis, as did she.  Hers was in training devices, mine in radios.  Once I finished the school, I started the check out process.

As I walked along the street to my next destination, I heard a voice behind me.  “There’s my necking partner!”

I don’t guess I need to explain who I saw when I turned around.  If she’d been much farther from me, I don’t think she could have yelled loud enough for me to hear.

Beside her was a bewildered woman marine.  Needless-to-say, there were a few others that looked over, first at her, then at me.  We talked for a while after that.  Then, we went our separate ways.

We haven’t seen each other since, but for some time after that, I lived in fear of meeting her again, especially if she saw me first.

 

Please take a few minutes to look at my books on my author’s page at

amazon.com/author/story_teller