I was in JROTC in high school. Throughout my entire time, I had the company slogans, the army chain of command, the values of leadership, and all that stuff drilled into my head like I was a machine. But, I was a diligent machine. I served in community activities like a smiling soldier giving out candy to children in West Berlin, marched in parades in goosestep to goosestep, banged the drum so mechanically, and yelled out orders to my cadets. Oh, and I aced the inspections perfectly.
Wait, inspections? Now, I remembered vividly. I remember the late nights of trying to put the yellow star "perfectly aligned" with the middle of my nameplate and if I cannot get that done, then I would have to wake up early in the morning. Sometimes, I won't even align the star with the nameplate at all.
And then, I had to gel my hair so perfectly that none of my hair strands stick out. So I put an immense amount of gel onto my hair. Even so, my hair strands still stick out, and the inspectors continued to give me points off
And then, I had to stare at my uniform--my ugly, pickle green military uniform--to determine if it even needs ironing. Most of the time, I've decided no because I am too lazy to iron. But, in special cases where I do (mostly when the inspectors told me to), I had to watch my mother do it and complain.
And then, I had to put my shoes--my ugly black and scratched shoes. Of course, my shoes weren't tied properly. But they were tired, end of the discussion. One inspector told me that I do need to tie them properly. But I still decided not to tie them anyway because, you know,
The constant agony over my crooked nameplate, the messy hair strands, and the improperly tied shoes-- these inspections ruined my Wednesday. My Army Instructor justified the inspection as a way to care about your appearance for the "real world" or whatever that means. But, during my high school years, I have become more conscious in my appearance and that is not in a good way.
Is my hair too messy?
Are my nails that crooked?
Can I tie my shoes good?
These are the questions that haunt me Wednesday night--the same Wednesday night where I just stared at my ugly green military uniform and wonder what's wrong. Despite being in college, I still remembered JROTC but not with fondness. I will remember the stress of getting one single nameplate right on a uniform and just wince. I am glad that I never did an inspection after my high school years. But, even so, I will remember these memories and then shudder.