Love, and being a jerk about it

CarryHerPackI follow Myke Cole’s blog and occasionally am linked to Patrick Rothfuss’. Today I was inspired by their words on love.

Mr. Rothfuss spoke on its many faces. Mr. Cole spoke on one of his. I sat and thought about  mine.

 

Here’s one (of many). Sometimes I show love by being a jerk.

At the top of the hill pictured above I noticed that while these soldiers were busily doing their work they were also letting their rifles get out of arm’s reach.

The course I teach is designed to prepare soldiers with certain job specialties for the realities of combat. We had told them to keep their rifles within arms reach. This is a big deal.

I warned them at the top of the hill. I even told them that I would not warn them again. They nodded and said, “Yes, Sergeant,” and took up their rifles.

If you’re not used to it, having a rifle constantly flopping around and banging into things and getting in the way can be a real pain. You get used to it though, and soon get to the point that you don’t even notice having it with you. Until the shooting starts, and then it’s there in your hands like magic.

Perhaps ten minutes after my warning to these soldiers about the proximity of their rifles they were back to work and leaving their rifles strewn about again.

I didn’t get mad, I didn’t yell. I’ve found that to be useful only in certain situations.

I casually picked up the first rifle I came to and calmly threw it down the hill as hard as I could. They didn’t notice. I grabbed a second rifle. This one I tossed down the other side of the hill. They noticed that one. The third I plucked from the ground, not hurrying, but inches ahead of its owner. It followed the first.

By this time they had started to yell to one another and the remaining rifles were clutched to their chests.

They stared at me with wide eyes and horrified expressions. I stared back.

After they had retrieved their rifles we got back to work.

I know some instructors who do this kind of thing because it gives them a charge, a feeling of power over their students.

Not I. I did it because I love them, and don’t want them to die.

Perhaps, downrange, one of them will remember to keep his rifle in arm’s reach because I was such a jerk that it made an impression.

Perhaps it will save his life when an Afghan Policeman decides to shoot the Americans he’s working with.

Perhaps it will save someone else’s life when his rifle springs reflexively to his cheek the moment the shooting starts.

In any case, I never had to remind those students about their rifles again.

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