Monday, February 25, 2008

OCD as an Asset, Pt1.

One thing that I learned from the Corps was how to best utilize the individual Marine. I usually had a list somewhere of alternative skills that my guys had. Some guy liked tooling around with low riders back in the day? He'd probably be a better guy to get to look at a Hummer in a pinch than the guy who used to build his own computers. Computer super-nerd boy? He was gold when it came time to bypassing my many deficiencies in that subject.

One morning in the field, just after reveille, I had packed up all my gear and was trying to decide how much of the dreaded Jambalaya MRE to choke down (I was at a meeting when the MREs were handed out, and true to form my guys screwed me, again). We were winding up another live fire, but could still expect to be out for a while - and I was Starvin' Marvin. A Marine we'll just call Mikey was just across from me, going through his morning ritual.

As best as I could figure out, his morning ablutions consisted of removing the extra bags kept in his pack at all times, carefully unpacking the individually waterproofed bags, inspecting the bags to rips or holes, and counting them to ensure that none were misplaced... since the last time he counted them. He would then carefully go through the steps to apply his facial cleanser, acne cream, and skin tightener. While this was setting, curing, or whatever you call it he would brush, floss, and gargle. After the facial necessities were complete, he would reapply deodorant. If needed (and it always seemed needed, to him) he would change all skivvies, placing the dirties into a separately marked, waterproofed bag. He would then go 'talk to a man about a horse', taking with him the bags marked, 'wet wipeys', 'tp', and 'hand sanitizer'.

Finishing up, he would carefully pack everything up into their individual bags, and load the bags back into his main pack. His pack was always huge, compared to just about everyone else. He could hump it all, so that was never a problem. Oh yeah, all the extra crap that I just mentioned, the cleansers, gear, and clothes? This would be for a training op of about 2 or three days. Week long trips? Fuggetaboutit.

He had a thing about socks and his feet.

Don't get me wrong, one's feet is a very important subject to the regular infantryman. To not take care of your feet is just asking for trouble. Foot powder, mole skin for blisters, and extra socks are all stuff that a smart guy might have around, just in case. Bringing roughly 4 pairs of socks per day out in the field is a little extreme.


Good tip: Roll the socks down from the top of the sock to the top of the boot. I don't care if it looks like a high school cheerleader's sock, the roll is inside the trouser leg. This will prevent the sock from sliding around and bunching inside the boot, which will cause some serious blisters after enough miles.


The morning in question, I gradually lost what little interest I had in the Jambalaya as I watched him go through his ritual. He finished up with the socks, inspecting them for rips, holes, or other deficiencies. He then carefully wrapped them back up, and packed them into the waterproof bag. This bag went into his main pack, which was then cinched down by exterior straps, which were then tied off an tucked away, to prevent accidental unravelling and pack opening.

After the pack was closed up to his satisfaction, he placed it on the deck and opened up an MRE to eat. While waiting for the heat packet to warm up, he paused, sighed, and started the process to get back into his pack. He dug through his gear until it came to his package of socks, opened them up, conducted another inspection, repacked them, closed the bag, packed the bag, cinched his pack, set it down, and continued to eat. Five minutes later he did it again, but this time counting aloud as he went through the socks.

Ten minutes later he was at it again.

This time, when it came time for sock inspection and counting, he looked up, noticed me staring at him, and sheepishly asked if I would count his socks, or at least overwatch his inspection.

I told him what I thought of the situation, but kept in mind I would never, ever, not even once, have to worry about him not having his hygiene gear, change of clothes (up to about 4 pair), or missing any of his personal gear.

1 comment:

Fire Fox said...

Wow.. that's some pretty serious OCD. I wonder if it would have drove him crazy if you'd asked him to borrow a pair of his socks?