Support our troops.
We've seen that one a lot, haven't we? Zealots say it all the effin' time as if somehow, the phrase validates their statements. "WE HATE GAYS AND WE HATE ABORTION, SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!" Yes, I'm being over-wrought about that, I apologize. I'm in a rotten mood right now. Surprising since I'd intended for today to be a good day. So why am I in a bad mood?
Because I just got a call back from a recruiter for the Army Reserve and during it, he not only showed a lack of tact or understanding, but also a basic ability to understand that I have rights to decide for myself now.
Let me explain.
Fun fact: did you know that when you sign up for the military, you're not always signing up for just a certain number of years and then you are done? Oh no. My case wasn't special, it was the norm. Four years of active service, followed by four years of INACTIVE service. Inactive? What's that? Well, it's the fact that technically, I'm still a member of the military...I just don't work actively and I don't get paid actively, but I'm still considered to be 're-activatible". As in, if circumstance demand it, I'd be brought back to active status without my consent. Like being drafted, you could say. Admittedly, the chances of that are slim because the day the Army runs out of qualified Trombone Bandsmen is the day they stop taking college dropouts like me (self-depricating humor, hah).
So i've kind of lived the last three years and change in a state of perpetual, low-grade terror. I don't want to go back. I am done with it and I want to be moved on permanently. But that inactive status hangs over my head like the worst Sword of Damocles you could imagine.
Fast-forward to last Friday. I get a call from an unknown number on my cell. Somehow, without my registering it on any armed forces database, I get a call from a recruiter from the Army Reserves...and the fast pitch began almost as soon as I identified myself by my real name. The words were spilling so fast from his mouth about the wonders and benefits of joining the Army Reserve that they were jumbling with each other. I could swear I heard him say "justifimication". Long story short, I am being hunted for recruitment into Army Reserves.
Funny thing, that. See, on the outgoing counseling session (mandatory), I was asked if I wanted to ever come back. I gave them a NO. Just like that. Loud and with a very sharp punctuation. Somehow, in the three years intervening time, they not only managed to lose that statement, but also find my cell number. Gotta love my privacy being worth shit-all. But since I've left, this is the FIRST time I've been contacted. The first. So...what, I only matter now that I've got less than a year left? Oh, right. It's bonus points for the recruiters, isn't it? Well, maybe not, but boy does that seem like a legitimate thought.
Anyhow, I told him that no, I'd rather not join the Reserves. I'm in a relationship that I wouldn't feel safe having on any base anywhere. And I'm not exposing Alfie to that, ever. "Oh, well, okay, but I still need to meet with you anyways."
Say that again?
I say no, you accept, then don't accept and say I'm expected to come and be 'counseled' on my choices? I don't think they let lawyers do that...
Well, fine. I know a losing battle when I see one, so I agree to meet SSgt WhatsHisDeal at a Starbucks near where I work (and near my home). Today, Wednesday, at 5pm. Let's get it overwith, you can talk to me all you want, I'll even buy you a coffee, and then I'll tell you no...AGAIN...and sign your stupid paper and you can be on your way towards the next sucker (paraphrased).
This morning, I get a call (because I'd expected it yesterday...when he told me he'd verify it) from SSgt NotSoBright. "Hey, SPC <Realname>, I'm just confirming that we're still on for 1300?"
*click* goes my burning anger.
First-off, that. Is not. My name. My name is either my first name (if we are acquainted) or MR. Lastname. I am not a Specialist anymore. If I am, then where the hell are the last 72 paychecks for being that rank that I'm owed? That's about...lessee...$75k you owe me, less tax.
Secondly, you were supposed to call YESTERDAY. That's what you told me you would do. You even said you'd write it down. Hell, I could REMEMBER it. And yet, you didn't. Smooth.
But most of all, you couldn't be bothered to take a note about the time I'd told you I would be available. I TOLD YOU that I wouldn't be done with work until at least 4 pm. And that I would want to meet around 5 so I could cook dinner at home first, then be over there. And yet, you somehow came up with 1 PM. And when I told you this, all of a sudden, 5 PM doesn't work for you anymore and can we meet next week? Wednesday at 5PM?
Fuck. The. Reserves. And. Fuck. You.
The simple fact alone that the representative for the organization that wants to force me back into subservience, make me suffer some more, ruin my personal choices in life, pay me shit-all for cash, and probably cost me my job, emotional/mental sanity, and my health can't get his act together and write himself a post-it note with a DATE...just no.
I'm not going through this again. I got suckered the last time, waaaaaay back in 2005. I bought it, hook, line, and sinker. I let that recruiter lie bald-facedly to me about nearly everything I could expect. I got told grand stories about what I'd be expected to do and how wonderful things would be. And then I found out that the army is not only full of liars, but full of predators ready, willing, and almost comically able to mess with you simply because YOU. ARE. EASY. PREY.
I wasn't as informed or as experienced as I am now...and I paid heavy prices for it. I have the lingering effects of PTSD (you DO know you can get that anywhere, not just from war-zones, right?). I've got massive depression spikes I deal with and am lucky to have the friends necessary to stem them. I have bills that I'm paying because the military WON'T help me pay them.
And you want me to just...come on back.
You had a chance and you blew it before we ever met. It may have been a small chance, but if you had given me the absolute truth about everything and that it was beneficial, honestly, to me to join, I may have joined.
But now, I won't. Because you can't be a fucking adult and schedule. You can't be bothered to look at me as something more than a goddamned number, a check on your board. You can't take the time to view me as worth more than a purfunctory effort. I'm not a human being with wants/needs/requirements. I'm just a number.
I did that once. It broke me. I honestly wouldn't wish it upon anyone, not even my worst enemies. Not even they deserve that. Because I already know that if I were to go back, because I'm no longer in fighting trim, I'd be forced to go through basic again.
Let that sink in.
No. Never again. Never. That nine weeks will never play itself out again. You can promise me everything...and I'll tell you that I've already got everything I want in life. For the moment anyhow. Everything else is more than viewable as 'easily scrutinized'. And your little schpiel that I KNOW you're going to foist on me is just hopeless jargon, lots of buzzwords, and smooth talking to get me to sign a dotted line for YOUR sake, not mine. Because you won't care about me the second you file it. You've just done YOUR job, who cares about the moron you just signed back in?
You don't care that you're signing up people who have been damaged by the last time they were in. You won't care. You just want your quota met. You poor poor bastard.
No, this is enough of my complaint and my rage. I refuse to sign back in. I refuse to let you bring me back. I refute your claim that I need you. I have less than a year as inactive. And then you can never touch me again. And I won't let you.
Support our troops.
SUPPORT OUR FUCKING TROOPS.
I love it. I call the dumbass a half hour before I'm supposed to meet with him today.
Me: "So do you have the address for where we're meeting today?"
Him: "Today? I thought you said tomorrow at 3."
GOD FUCKING DAMNIT. Are you seriously joking? This is THREE TIMES IN A ROW. I've had enough!
Alfie's going with me tomorrow at 5 pm to the nearby Starbucks. We're going to sit and wait for him for no longer than 10 minutes after the meet time. When he arrives, he gets no drink, he gets no small talk. He's got precisely 15 minutes and not a second more to give me his schpiel and then I'll tell him no, sign whatever I need to that dictates that I could care less if I am in the military ever again, and leave.
This guy could promise me the goddamned treasury at Fort Knox and I'm still telling him to blow it out his ass. Alfie's there to ensure that I'm not going to get a fast one pulled on me and to act as a witness in case stories change.
I've had enough of this bullshit. Were I who I was five years ago, something would be in pieces by now. Because of Alfie, I'm holding it together, but I'm DONE with this.
SUPPORT THEM THAR TROOPS! THEY'RE THE BEST OF THE BEST, FOLKS! BEST MINDS, BRIGHTEST IDEAS!