Going to the Mattress
Not a normal way to get someone's attention.
Going to the Mattress meant something different to Drill Instructor Banter than it did to most people. Banter was an extreme weight lifter and a Drill Instructor in the Air Force. His neck was bigger than most people’s forearms.
As a Drill Instructor, Banter’s goal was to make new recruits into lean mean fighting machines, namely through intimidation and persuasion. The military typically breaks a person down so they obey orders from their superiors, both during the mundane times and when it’s critical. Depending on the service branch, basic training did that in 6-12 weeks. At the end, new recruits had a basic knowledge of the military, the branch they were serving in, and a core set of disciplines that would carry them through the next few years and the rest of their lives.
With a tight-fitting collared shirt and his neck bulging from the top, Drill Instructor Banter could intimidate the newest of recruits just by looking at them. Of course, he barked out orders and commands and expected immediate obedience as Drill Instructor training course had taught him, but he often persuaded his charges with the stare atop his massive neck.
His strength, however, was in his physique. Banter had a trick that none of his fellow Drill Instructors could ever pull. The trick intimidated the most courageous of recruits. No one was jealous of the feat for it took quite a bit of time and discipline in the gym to get there.
Two days into Basic Training when some of the recruits were starting to get the hang of military life, Banter would earn his keep.
He’d say to his troops as they were gathered around him for instruction, “Now, some of you I know are getting cocky right about now. You think this Air Force life is a cinch. You’ve got the Air Force, your fellow recruits, and me all figured out. But while you were out on your first two-mile excursion, a band of raccoons somehow nestled their way into your barracks.”
He paused, looked around the room, and said, “You see, while you were out I saw a raccoon come in and do this to your mattress.”
Grabbing a top bunk mattress in the middle of the rim with his teeth, with one twist of his neck, he flung the mattress to the floor.
“And then I saw another raccoon and he saw the first and, so, he did this…”
Again, Banter grabbed another mattress with his teeth and hurled it to the floor.
By the time Banter was finished, nine mattresses and their bedding were on the barracks floor.
Banter said, “You have exactly 36 minutes to get this mess in inspection shape or you will be going with me on a 20-mile midnight hike with full rucksack. Have I made myself clear? Room Attention! Dismissed.”
Banter didn’t need a hidden camera to see the frenzy that ensued, but he never once doubted the job would get done, and most probably in record time.
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