Friday, August 29, 2008

Adapt, Improvise, Overcome

"All right knuckleheads, bring it around" I said as my section moseyed around before the platoon formation. Ignoring the two jokers that were demonstrating their close working relationship developed on the recent float by holding hands, I gave the plan for the mornings festivities. "Unless something else comes up, and it probably will, all of us are scheduled to get our hearing-test done this morning".

"What?" was the unanimous response.

Everyone's a comedian.

Surprisingly enough, other than a few guys that needed to go to dental, the overwhelming majority of my guys were able to attend the testing at the same time. My jokers all together in one place might've been good for scheduling and checklists, but it was potentially bad for... everything else. Aside from the sticky-fingers ('Ain't no thievery in the Corps, everyone's just trying to get their own shit back...'), the Mystery Science Theater / Three Stooges nature of my squad ensured that with the guys all in one place, there would be some interesting commentary and goings on.

Re: hearing tests in general, did I mention that we were for the most part all school-trained mortarmen? Let's put it this way; while some of the guys weren't sweating this test like they would a day in the pool or at the range, there were some guys that had their doubts about passing the test.

The test itself was much like a test in the civilian world, with the head-sets, soft tones in either ear, and the little clicky thingy to indicate left ear or right, but this one was done in the back off a van about the size of a small school bus. You would board the van, eight to a group, and walk down the isle to an empty booth. You'd scrunch up your legs to fit into the booth, put the headset on, and begin to flunk-er, take the test.

The festivities started when we found out who the proctor for the test was. Said Marine was a guy that wasn't very popular amongst the Marines, probably because of his tendency to squirm out or anything that might put him at risk of breaking a sweat and also his habit of talking up his past exploits in 'combat'.

We'll call him Staff Sergeant Squidgy.

Ole Squidgy started off by talking down to the Marines, like they were in a newly invented fourth phase of recruit training. I could tell that they were not taking it terribly well, but to their credit (and my freely wielded evil-eye), they didn't do anything more than a few muttered comments.

Revenge is sweet... or stinky, whatever.

One of my Marines just happened to develope a slight counting problem about then, and when the first eight Marines moseyed up the stairs into the bus, he joined the end of the line. Ignoring his buddies who pointed out that there were only eight booths on the bus, he clomped up the stairs and stood, ninth in line and apparently dumbly while Squidgy assigned my Marines to the booths. We heard form the interior of the bus as Squidgy berated my Marine for his inability to count to eight. My Marine was the model of decorum and sounded with the appropriate 'Yes / No / Aye Aye, Staff Sergeant'. He turned in the aisle and paused right at the doorway.

His nefarious plan for revenge was revealed just as the doors closed when everybody in the bus started gagging and retching from a sudden... bad odor.

Giggling, he asked me if he had enough time to run and... get a coke (avoid persecution).

After a short break, the first groups test, and another smokey treat for Squidgy, where we got to hear (again) about his heroic tales as a combat journali-er blood thirsty grunt, it was our turn. Climbing aboard, I turned to my Stinky-one and frowned, due to the lingering... ambiance. He shrugged and muttered something about the bean burritos in the chow hall.

Finally, we were all seated in our booths, sweaty head-phones on our heads and playing with the clackers like a troop of monkeys. Squidgy interrupted us with an in depth description of what we were expected to do on his hearing test. He slammed the door on his own booth, to start off the test.

We waited for the test to begin.

And waited...

And... WTF, over?

Looking around, I realized that all of the other Marines were looking around at each other. One of my guys was mining for gold and staring off into space. The guy behind him was passed out, snoring. One Marine had his headset off, and it appeared that he was trying to find the 'On' switch. Another Marine, well schooled in the mindset of seizing the initiative, had his multi-tool out and looked like he was going to begin disassembly of his head set.


Squidgy came in, and he was none too pleased.

After an earful or three, we found out that the test had been ongoing for a minute or so, and nobody was clicking the clickies to his clicking satisfaction. He told us to pull our heads outta our asses, and listen up for the tones.


Did I mention that we were all mortarmen?


So Squidgy started the test again.

I didn't hear anything for awhile, but shortly after the re-start, I noticed that the Marines to either side of me were clicking away enthusiastically. Looking to one side, I gestured to the Marine clicking away. I pointed to my head set and gave a thumbs up. [hear anything?] He responded with a tap to his head set, leaned back and put both index fingers pointing from his chest, middle finger to Squidgy's booth, and more clickys. [Nope, my headset's tits up, frack that guy, just click, man.]


Old NFO said...

hehehe- Yep, we ALL went through that... Our problem was what they call Aviators Loop (40dB hearing loss between 3-6kHz). New Flight Surgeon though something was broke when we ALL missed everyone of the middle freqs... Took that sumbitch 3 times before he finally believed we were all deaf in that range. Upside? Can't hear high pitched womens's voices :-)

The Loon said...

Being a mere civilian (apologies for that) makes me wonder what the point is of mortarmen taking a hearing test...........passing the test should consist of no more than the ability to hear orders from anyone of a higher rank.

Wishing a good weekend to all.

Murphy said...

old nfo: Dang, I knew I shouldda turned to the dark side and then become a pilot...

loon: No need to apologize for civi status, and your test sounds good to go to me!

Snigglefrits said...

Sometimes I think some hearing damage would be a blessing. I can hear frequencies most folks can't and I hear whispers loud and clear.

Love the sign language there Murphy. Fingers pointing from his chest would have taken me a week to decipher into tits up. :D

Larry said...

(carrier aviation squid)

SpeakerTweaker said...

Climbing aboard, I turned to my Stinky-one and frowned, due to the lingering... ambiance.


I'm loving the Corps Sign Language. That's great!