Time for a Restart

I had been assigned to Fort Lee, Virginia, an Army Post, for Technical School after basic military training. The old WWII barracks was well maintained, thanks to those of us living there.  We all spent many hours on our hands and knees, scrubbing the bay floors with GI brushes.  Wax was applied with soft cloths and then buffed with handfuls of cotton balls.  You could literally see your face in those 20 year old, dark brown floors. Every footlocker was perfectly aligned with the base of the bunks, no clothes laying around or anything else out of place.  This was not “college dorm” living but a showplace of military discipline.

The bunks surrounded the perimeter of the bay, leaving a wide center area as you walked through the front doors.  The main reason for the shine was to give a quality first impression to the Company Commander when he visited for inspection.  That way, he might not be inclined to nitpick his way through the entire building.  We had a self-imposed rule that nobody walked on the center floor.  Everyone removed their combat boots outside and then socked their way around the narrow corridors between the bunks and the outer walls.  Like I said, the whole hands-and-knees thing was a lot of tedious work.  No scuff marks allowed.

An unintended result of shining the floor to a high gloss, coupled with the daily chore of polishing boots, made the bays smell like waxy leather accented with well-used black GI socks.  Outside of our quarters was the welcomed contrast of a Virginia spring.  Warm, hazy mornings were punctuated with the strong scents of honeysuckle.  When the dining halls came to life at 5:00 am, we headed out from the barracks to breakfast at the mess hall, with our senses pleasantly shifting to high alert.

It was while I was living in the barracks that I came in contact with Sergeant Comer. This crusty NCO was in charge of a mixture of young recruits from the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps. Most of us had recently completed 6 to 8 weeks of training and not been home on leave as yet so, lets say there was not a lot of humor to be had.  However, that old sergeant had a couple of sayings that made us all chuckle.

Linen Exchange was once a week. We’d strip our bunks early in the morning and the fresh bedding would be delivered some time during the day. In the meantime, we would fold our green GI blankets neatly on our bare bunks in a Cadet “E”. At least that was the usual thing to do. Sgt. Comer liked to add something to that. In that old gravelly voice, he would stand outside the barracks waiting for us to fall out for morning formation and shout “Let’s get those blankets out here boys and shake the (insert colorful colloquialism for methane gas and rhymes with “parts”) out of them”. That was followed by roughly 80 guys fanning those GI blankets in the breeze.  Not something you’d want to be down-wind from.

There was something else he said every morning when we we in formation, ready to raise the flag.  Most of us were half asleep at that early morning hour, so it took a few minutes to Dress Right (get in a straight line).  While we were trying to align our boot tips, we heard him in that loud “Drill Instructor” voice shouting “Re-Up, boys, it’s time to Re-Up. You can’t beat it”.  And, he did it with enthusiasm and fervor.  Now, if you’ve never had this particular experience, that’s military-speak for Reenlist. Sgt. Comer knew that the military was the best job he’d ever had and wanted us all to fill our next 20 years serving Uncle Sam.  I don’t recall anyone taking him up on his suggestion right then, but we all enjoyed the recruiting tool.

How about you? Is it time to renew that relationship with your spouse?  Perhaps, “You’ve lost that lovin’ feelin'”.  Or, misplaced it anyway.  How about that friend you’ve been meaning to call?  Maybe that commitment you made to Jesus so long ago and never really tried to make it work, is ready for a restart. Have you “Left your first love” (Rev 2:4)? Time to start reading that Bible again?  Or, maybe it’s time to begin that relationship with the Lord you’ve been thinking about.  Whatever it might be, wouldn’t right now be a good time to Re-Up?  You can’t beat it.

About the Author View all posts

Rick Gile

Rick Gile

Life is made up of stories. You may not realize it, but we relay our experiences to one another all the time. They can give our loved ones a sense of the past, our friends a glimpse of how we have reacted to life's changes. Or, tell a new acquaintance something about ourselves. Stories are really about the journey of life.

What you encounter as life passes are views of events that make up your past, while shaping your future. What you read here are merely a few of the stories that have shaped my life, so far.

Rick and his wife Olga live in upstate New York, close to their grandchildren. They work part-time with their sons after running a business for 37 years in the Albany area.

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