Right at the end of Sgt. Windsor’s time with our unit, we had a top-down drug screening with the entire HHC portion of the 101st. This drug screening was a part of an installation-wide effort to crack down on post-deployment drug use, specifically marijuana.
Because the PAD and HHC were on their own, we were responsible for submitting our own samples to the headquarters. As such, we were free to do our drug screenings away from the rest of the other units, which were normally comprised of fifty soldiers. Try picturing that, by the way: an aviation hangar full of people who are all irritated about having to get up too early to pee in a cup in front of somebody.
Oh, yeah… I might have left that part out.
That’s right. As a part of the drug screening, you’d have to be supervised in order to assure that you don’t spoil the sample. For those of you who are unaware of how to do such a thing, never you mind. There are quite a few gross or dumb ways to supposedly cheat the system, but as ineffective as they probably are, the military cuts out the chance of them working even more by assigning a designated supervisor.
But honestly, you get used to people looking at your wiener. It starts happening right away at MEPS. There aren’t any shower curtains in basic training, either. Some people hated it. I hated it in the beginning, but I also hated fungus and illness. I got over people seeing Little Devon quickly because of it.
We wouldn’t have too many other drug screenings after this one. I think we might have had only one more. I had more drug screenings in the first six months than I did for the rest of my career. Funny, I had never thought about that until right now.
The day of the screening came. On the grounds that Sgt. Windsor was the junior of the group (the group consisting of only he and SSG Cooper), he was assigned the duty of “observing” the sample collection. SSG Cooper further suggested that the experience would be good for his junior companion, as it would no doubt bolster his promotion file.
I felt bad for Sgt. Windsor. He had a tough morning ahead. Though there were maybe a dozen of us, this was not dignified for anyone involved. You see, normally when it is a company-wide collection, it’s a lab tech or a medic who takes the sample. In other words, it’s normally not somebody you have to see all the time. I was going to have to urinate in front of my (on-again, off-again) buddy, and then go back to work with him. I felt bad for all parties involved.
But I handled my business. I smacked down a Diet Coke when I woke up, and I was able to produce with little issue. Windsor faked like he was going to knock the jar out of my hand when I turned around, and I almost dropped the thing. I laughed loudly in a situation that really didn’t have much room for laughter.
When the echo of my outburst stopped, Windsor called for the next soldier. It was supposed to be Randell, but Dub was behind Randell, raising his hand. He asked Sgt. Windsor if he could go next, and Windsor agreed.
Hastily, Dub scurried over to the stall where we were supposed to pee, then promptly turned around and took a seat. I suppose he didn’t know Windsor was in the stall, because they both let out a few startled noises and curse words.
“Dub!” Windsor shouted.
“Where’s the cup?” Windsor asked
“Oh, I didn’t need it.” Dub said, matter-of-factly.
“The hell you mean you didn’t need it?” Sgt. Windsor was somewhere between laughing and screaming.
“I had to go ‘number two,’ sarge!” Dub replied in earnest.
Sgt. Windsor laughed. “Well, can’t ya do both? Can’t ya take the damn cup and stick it down there?”
“I don’t have to do that right now, sarge.” Dub replied indignantly.
Sgt. Windsor sighed. “Of course you don’t, soldier.”
So, whoever the poor sap or saps were who had to give a sample after Dub were not so terribly pleased with him. Sometimes, I swear I understood why people didn’t like him. He did some off-the-wall goofy stuff sometimes. Things like this happen and you just can’t believe the awkwardness of it all. I felt sorry for everyone, and even a little ashamed for being such a stupid little kid and eavesdropping on such a weird scenario.
And on top of that, we had to wait forever for the dude to pee! Guys were really starting to get mad at Dub. Me, I was just saying a prayer for the dude. I’d seen it happen in basic training and I knew it was a long road if a soldier got stage fright. We might be there all afternoon if Dub didn’t manage to collect himself.
Fortunately, after about another ten minutes Dub produced a sample, and we were all on our way.
There was a lot I took from this incident. Sgt. Windsor actually played this pretty cool. I tried to imagine what would have happened if SFC Smalls ended up being the guy taking our samples. All things considered, Sgt. Windsor allowed my buddy Dub a lot more dignity than a lot of others did.
Another thing I noticed was that Dub was tragically accustomed to being shamed. He prostrated himself greatly when the ordeal was over, but the worst anybody did was SFC Cooper, who made a few fart noises throughout the day when Dub was in his midst. Other than that, nobody said much of anything (save one or two who had to enter the smelly latrine).
It was hard watching Dub carry on. It was clear that the army broke him. I’d watch him bumble through these situations and wonder to myself how on earth he made it as far as he did. There were times just like these when I thought to myself that Dub was incredibly high maintenance. I felt like the system should have eliminated him somewhere in training.
Much like it should have eliminated me.
And was he really the one responsible for my treatment? Struck called out Dub’s name when my knee gave out and I was accused of shamming. Was I doomed because of Dub? I never really got to the bottom of the animosity towards him or towards me, for that matter.
All I know is that the army just isn’t for everyone.