War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

bitching soldiers

okay, confession time. I have a soft spot, a really soft spot for bitching soldiers.

lately, life’s road has had some pretty serious bumps. life-altering. today, downtown for an appointment, I met up for a coffee with a soldier. met him at the old hippy coffee bar that I fondly have nicknamed “The Conspiracy Theory Café” (CTC), so named for all the young anarchists and greybeards (and I have nothing against grey beards, it’s just that most of the men that go there really do have grey beards) that hang there discussing the industrial military complex and the dastardliness of our provincial government etc. and who are extremely short of easy topics now that George Bush has retired…

so into the CTC walks soldier. he’s much bigger than I remembered. I first met him a month after he returned from Afghanistan in ’07. extremely thin, walking really straight, a bit twitchy, he had a brittle fragility about him. but over the course of a year I watched him soften, relax. today, he is confident. his shoulders, his torso are built to go. when I tell him this he laughs and says, “it’s from wearing all that gear again.” he’s just come off of six months heavy training and is in town to see his girlfriend.

we sit down and talk about this and that. I tell him about my experience at Wainwrightistan and he says how grateful he is that he missed it. then he tells me a story about something going on for him with the army (nothing serious) and it makes me smile broadly and for a few minutes I forget about my problems as I listen and remembered a MCpl. McBitching I met at Wainwright. MCpl. McBitching could riff on any topic and make it into a long-winded rant about army life. twelve years in and with another eight or nine to go, McBitching was going to have a very long go of it if his complaining was any indication of things to come.

McBitching is one of those guys who sees things through coal-coloured glasses. he was extremely funny in his general pessimism and bitterness though. one day I told McBitching that I hoped I’d get flown out of the FOB in a helicopter. “you wouldn’t catch me in one of those,” he said, then explained that that particular model of helicopter had never gone down and he wasn’t about to become history by being on the first one to crash. “what about a SeaKing?” I asked McBitching, “they’ve gone down.” “that’s just the point, they’ve already gone down so odds are they won’t again and I won’t ever be on the first to go down therefor I’d take a SeaKing anyday.” that soldier was hilarious. unintentionally.

the thing is, soldiers like to bitch. one soldier said to me, “you know the soldier is in trouble if he doesn’t bitch” bitching is their pressure valve. a bonding thing. excessive bitching can be indicative though of the bitter soldier. I’ve met a few of them and try not to be around them for too long. even though I’m not a soldier, I recognize how contagious bitterness can be and don’t want to go there.

so after coffee, and after my appointment, which had its own share of heaviness, I drove to the ocean and parked my car and yacked on the phone with another contact who is a soldier in another city. just back from work, tired, very tired, soldier had a good ten minute rant. I laughed and said to him, “I like listening to bitching soldiers because they take my mind off things. they’re hilarious” soldier laughed and said, “anytime ma’am, call me anytime. I’ll fill your ear full!”

I can see that my phone bills are going to be pretty big in the foreseeable future.

Charlie Mike

1 Comment (Closed)

Bob Devine

I have followed your site since last year when I first discovered it. I do not know if anyone else has this opinion but to me the last month of posts have been exceptional!
Thank you and I look forward to many more.

Jul 14 2009 · 16:54

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled bitching soldiers. It was posted here on July 13, 2009.


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