Monday, February 4, 2008

Classic Moments in Soldiering: The Barracks Are Never Clean

For the last two weeks here in the Rear Detachment (i.e. the skeleton crew holding down the fort for the units that are deployed), one of our main tasks as we wait to deploy ourselves has been cleaning the barracks rooms for the soldiers who will shortly be returning from Iraq. Granted, there's some satisfaction in that, because those guys certainly deserve to come home to a clean barracks room. But there's a little rule of Army life that comes into play. A barracks is never clean. Ever. There's definitely no such thing as "clean enough". So we've been taking scouring pads to each and every tile in these rooms, polishing them to an unnatural pearly white that's probably several shades lighter than the manufacturer's intended color. On top of that, we're also completely scouring off whatever nonporous finish once protected these tiles, leaving them clean and white, but positively begging to absorb the first dirt that comes along, ensuring that they will in short order be far dirtier than if we had never undertaken this job in the first place. Leave it to the Army, as usual, to make things about six times more difficult than necessary.

Like I said, this is still a noble, if unglamorous undertaking, to clean rooms for returning soldiers. But these are soldiers. How clean do they really want their rooms? Sure, give them a spotless bathroom and a clean refrigerator, but I would bet good money not a single one of them is going to note the glowing whiteness of their tile. I am, on the whole, far cleaner by instinct than my average colleague, and I can assure you the tile floor would be my last concern.

If I had more time, equipment, and ambition, I'd love to make a parody recruitment ad. "There's clean... and then there's ARMY CLEAN."

Here's a few YouTube videos along similar themes:

There's sleepy. And then there's Army Sleepy.

Here's one about cleaning, along the lines of the old "Army Of One" ads I joined under.

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