We all stood on the small grassy hill that was just behind our barracks. It was the night before we were scheduled to head home after 8 weeks of Basic Training and we really didn’t care what was about to happen. We knew the procedure by now… roll left, roll right, push ups, on your feet, roll left, roll right, blah, blah, blah. Over the past 8 weeks we had endured the worst the drill sergeants could throw at us. What ever was about to happen didn’t matter – we were going home tomorrow.
But that didn’t stop a particular drill sergeant from giving us one last memorable parting gift. In addition to doing calisthenics until our lungs burned and our bodies ached (which we were damned near immune to at this point), we would be doing them in the mud. But the hill was dry so the drill sergeant rallied the broke dicks.
“Broke Dick” is Army slang for a soldier who is injured or otherwise exempted from physical training. In Basic Training, the broke dicks became gophers for the drill sergeants. This drill sergeant wanted as many 5 gallon water jugs as the broke dicks could find filled to the bursting brim. And then he wanted the jugs dumped out on the grassy hill to create his muddy goodbye.
The broke dicks dispersed with empty water jugs in hand. Within seconds, one of the broke dicks returned to the drill sergeant and reported that the 5 gallon water jugs were too large to fit under the laundry sinks which were the most accessible point of water.
The drill sergeant did not try to hide his displeasure with the broke dick’s report. In an eloquence that only a drill sergeant could muster he bellowed…
“Private! If the good lord had placed your pecker square in the middle of your back, you’d still find a way to jerk off wouldn’t you?!”
Those of us waiting on the hill for our muddy exercise session didn’t even try to hide our laughter at the drill sergeant’s retort. But as I later reflected on the moment, there was some (dare I say) real wisdom in the drill sergeant’s quip.
Make it happen.
That’s all the drill sergeant was trying to say – although the three short directives above lack the color of a masturbation reference. And get creative and make it happen the broke dick did… A muddy farewell good time was had by all.
This quiet dependability to accomplish a task without asking for clarification or instruction was famously captured in Elbert Hubbard’s essay, “A Message To Garcia”. Here is my favorite quote from the essay:
“It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing.”
Do the thing. No questions, no hesitation, and no accepting that there is only one way to complete a task. Just do the damned thing.
When you think of unwavering dependability, who do you think of in history or in your personal life? How do you stack up when it comes to getting things done? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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