Small Acts of Defiance is the 12th installment in my Bad Luck Cadet Series.
Week six began with us sporting our new polo shirts and the sounds of Class 96 being yelled at by their Sergeant. It was nice to breath without a tie around our necks and have Sgt. Dickens lower his voice and pretend we were human. Inspection went smoothly. We were only given twenty push ups and not a single hill run. Our Sergeant wanted us to appear superior and leave ‘the hill’ for Class 96. It wouldn’t last, but that week we suffered very few punishments.
We took our weekly academic test Monday morning. Nine cadets did not pass. After the retake test the following day, all passed but two. Cadet Rodriguez barely scrapped through. Out of the original thirty-five cadets, we were now down to twenty-nine.
I was lucky the academic training came easy for me. The physical and defensive tactics training did not. I had never been last at anything in my life. During my childhood, I was athletic and competitive. At the academy, though much stronger than when I started, I felt like a loser.
Wednesday morning we were marched to our dorm rooms before class for a surprise room inspection. We were made to stand outside our room, with the door open. We could not enter the room before inspection began.
This was not our first room inspection, and Donna and I were finally at a point where we felt confident in having our dorm ready for inspection each morning. We had learned through prior inspections that all shirts in our closet had to be facing in the same direction (buttons east), all shoes pointing outward and beds made to pass a military quarter bounce.
For every room gig (mistake), our entire class would line up in formation and do ten push ups. We’d had as many as fourteen gigs in one inspection. If you do the math it means one hundred and forty push ups. We learned very fast to fix the problems.
Donna and I were lucky at this point because our room contained just the two of us. It made it easier to keep things organized, or so we thought.
When we arrived at the dorms, I opened our door and realized the radio was blaring. I looked at Donna, who had panic written all over her face. She said quietly that she had left the radio on.
We had a dilemma.
The rules of dorm inspection were simple; Open your door, do not enter the room and stand at ease outside the door. Either our sergeant or an Advisor would arrive and begin the inspection. The first Cadet seeing one of them come around the corner would yell, “Staff on deck,” and we would immediately come to attention.
As we stood outside the room listening to the music, our panic increased steadily. I thought Donna was going to pass out.
I looked around and couldn’t see our Sergeant or any class advisors. I ran inside the room and shut the radio off. As I turned around to head back out I heard those fateful words, “Staff on deck.” There was nothing I could do but step out of the room and face the music, literally.
Sgt. Dickens was staring at our room and watched me come out and get into place. I think I might have been the only cadet in his history of him being Class Sergeant that defied him. His face was red and he looked like he was ready to explode.
I was already in trouble and I was having a moment of rebellion. I stared him straight in the eye. Yes I remembered, “Stare through me not at me.” I’d had enough. Hill runs, push ups, papers to write, even after an easy week, it just never ended. I went into the “fight or flight,” mode. My decision was made and it was time to fight.
I stood my ground looking into Sergeant Dickens’ eyes. I did not have long to wait for the explosion to happen.
“Cadet Ivy, what the hell are you doing? Do you know the rules, are you stupid?”
Now how do you answer that question? Was I stupid? I didn’t think so; I thought I was helping a friend. I understood the rules but had made the choice to break them. Did this mean I wasn’t good officer material? Again I didn’t think so.
My response was simple and answered his questions, “I entered our room to turn off the radio, yes I know the rules, no I’m not stupid.” Humble I was not.
Sgt. Dickens’ face reddened even further.
“Cadet Ivy you will leave the dorms and go wait outside my office immediately.” He said in a soft voice.
This was even scarier than if he had yelled. I turned and left the area heading to his office. He kept me waiting for an hour. It was hard not knowing what was happening back at the dorms. The longer I waited the more stupid I realized I was. It must be an age thing. Middle age was not meant to be a subservient time in your life. It is a take charge and be a leader time. Sgt. Dickens was approximately thirty-two. He didn’t understand. Or maybe I didn’t.
I also had another problem with my age. I needed to pee frequently. It had been over two hours and like an idiot I hadn’t made a detour on the way to his office. I was regretting it with every minute that went by. I knew if I went to the restroom now, he would return as soon as I was out of sight.
I waited. When he arrived, it was hard to come to attention. Before he was there I could at least jump around a little bit.
Sgt. Dickens never even invited me into his domain. I was chastised in the hallway. The following one sided conversation took place. I did manage a, “Yes sir,” here and there.
“Cadet Ivy you’ve surpassed none of my expectations (that was eloquent). You can’t follow orders, you can’t keep up physically with the rest of the class and you have authority issues. I will have a ten page memo on, “Why it’s important to follow orders,” on my desk tomorrow morning and you will run ten hill after class today. Now go back to the classroom and stay out of my face.”
That was it. Ten hill runs and a ten page paper. I detoured to the restroom and then entered the classroom. A few cadets gave me smiles. I’m sure they wondered why I was still in the academy.
It was a long day and an even longer night. Donna ran the hills with me and we made up a cadence as we ran.
“Sergeant Dickens is a pill. Made me go and run the hill. At the top I slipped and fell. May Sergeant Dickens go to hell.”
Not very original but it passed the time. Class 96 was running their hills while Donna and I were doing ours. They laughed the entire time and we were rather pleased with ourselves.
My rebellion continued as I sat down to write my paper. I remembered the hell Donna went through so I made mine more subtle.
I started my paper with, “Following rules is important. When I had my first child the doctor told me not to push. I didn’t listen. This was a bad time not to be following rules. I split wide open and the baby popped out. Another time to follow rules is when you are reading the directions on a cake box. My cakes kept falling in the middle and it took three disasters to understand that there are directions for high altitude on the side of the box. I had to learn that an asterisk under the directions was a rule to follow.”
And on it went. I actually had fun and Donna laughed while shining my boots. She thought I was crazy but we both enjoyed our small acts of defiance. I told her I would take the retaliation if it came.
My last thought as sleep overtook me was one of satisfaction.
My story continues with: Bad Luck Cadet #13 – Gun Fights and Car Chases
If you would like to follow my adventures at the police academy from the beginning it starts with Bad Luck Cadet #1 – Accidents Happen. It’s all about fun, laughter and pain. At the time, it was more about pain, pain and pain! — Suzie