Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Rank and The Age

Being an Officer Under Training really puts me in a confuse state. 

You're an officer, but not commissioned yet. 
You do an officer's task, but no responsibility. 
You make mistakes, punishment is for sure, but no charges. 

I've stuck in this situation since the past 4 years, when people elder than me have been calling me "sir". Put it this way, someone about your father's age salutes and calls u "sir", doesn't it feel awkward? I put on Midshipmen at the age of 20, and Midshipmen entitled for salute. Somehow, lots of other ranks doesn't salute us because they claim that they serve the Navy longer than us. What can u do when they don't salute u? 

2 years back, I was the leader of a platoon of Midshipmen walking pass a gate manned by one other rank. Before we marched towards the gate, my officers gave me stern warning that if I don't make sure that chap salute me, I'll be severely punished. 10 steps before reaching the gate, my heart was pounding hard. It was really nervous as we walked closer, because if he doesn't salute, I'll have to confront him, but how?? what should I tell him??

True enough, he didn't salute when we reached there. 
My inner voice was screaming "What the F**k is so hard for u to raise yr right hand next to yr right eyebrow??!!".  Okay, now I have no choice, u asked for it.
I put the platoon to a halt and confronted him. The nervousness turned to adrenaline rush when I started raising my voice talking to him as he stood still with wandering eyes. He saluted, then we walked away. Normally they'll be joking as we march back to our room, but on that day, everyone went silent. Because earlier, they said I'm too kind to confront an other rank. I just proved them wrong.

I grew up in an environment where the civilians might probably call it "full of snobbishness".
I'm just being a good survivor by blending well into the culture. When an organization grows bigger, some sort of formality need to be reinforced to keep the team runs smoothly.

During my second Ironman, I was having dinner same table with the Paratroopers, Commandos and a few Divers. They made fun of me, and laughed at me. I'm just a Midshipmen, what can I do right? Guess what, on race day, I overtook every single one of those who made fun of me by more than 21km on the marathon. Respect is to be earned, probably my tiny physique and young age has concealed the true capability of me. At the prize giving dinner, they called me "sir". 

Leaders are tested on the critical decisions they have made. 

Proving yourself and earn the respect is what Officer's Pride is all about. Honestly, it is really challenging but satisfying. However, too much of challenge can be a bad thing. Today an officer came into my class saying that being an Officer Under Training is really exhausting. He said he nearly gone crazy following the routine.
He spent 2 years under training.
I spent 9 years under training.

Thinking of it, there's so much of unanswered "what if-s...". 
I've grown older in the "barb wired-confined-military camps" as time passes by, missing out so much of excitement and joy a teenage deserves. Tired of thinking, I'll just doze off and the next day telling myself "I just survived another day". To just kill the topic and stop thinking of the path I should have taken, I bought myself a toy. Just to temporarily cheer myself up.

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