Yes, I realize the syntax of that title sounds a little like The Derek Zoolander School for Kids Who Can’t Read and Want to Do Other Stuff Good Too. But if you have followed this blog long enough you know that Unprecedented Mediocrity has never constrained itself to those pesky rules of grammar. But it’s true, most Veterans can poop anywhere and if you know what you are looking at in the above picture then you are probably one of them. Having been out of the Marines for 13 years now and spent a good deal of time in management, I have always been amused by some of the military to civilian skill sets people often like to pass off on a resume or in an interview. There seems to be some confusion about character traits versus technical skills and it often comes from my beloved fellow grunts. For the character traits that we forged in war are quite easily transferrable, but kicking in doors and gifting violence to the enemy often has limited utility on this side of the uniform. But make no mistake about it my fellow Veterans those character traits will serve as the jet fuel for your career as you pursue passion and purpose this side of war. So please never get discouraged when you have start from scratch on the technical side as it is merely one hill to be climbed. Your day is coming and it will come soon. But let’s get back to talking about our ability to poop anywhere and do other stuff good too.
Diesel, Flies, and Feces
For those that don’t know, the picture above is what we affectionately referred to as the “crappers” or their more profane version, the “sh!%ers.” For whatever reason, the Marine Corps has a long tradition of breaking down one’s inability to poop under less than favorable circumstances. For me, it started at boot camp where the toilets did in fact have stalls back in 1997 but no doors despite the fact that they were situated across from one another. I’ll never forget the first time as a 17-year-old kid that I stared another man in the eye as I sat there and relieved myself. Part of my innocence died that day, but little did I know, this was only preparing me for war.
Years later at Camp Wilson in 29 Palms I was again prepared for the horrors of war as the toilets were lined up old school in a row with no doors or stalls similar to what you see above from FMJ. It was a common sight to simply ask someone to roll you the toilet paper when you were done. But nothing can replicate war and I’m here to tell you that once you have sat on a plank of wood next to three other Marines all hovering over a barrel of the Company’s poop, flies, and sweet aroma of smoldering diesel you can poop anywhere. And honestly, I consider that a pretty big asset in the modern world.
If you are ever in an interview and the employer asks what technical skills you bring to the table, I want you to look him right in the eye and say “I don’t have any previous accounting experience, but I can poop in your public restroom like a champ.” For when you have done the deed just before the full crappers are burned and mixed with diesel and the flies are doing the dance of the desert on the Theatre de Scrotum, the worst truck stop toilet will not so much as phase you. It was honestly funny after a while and you just chatted it up with the Marines next to you while that one guy always ran by to take a picture. Trust me, there are enough military men on crapper pictures out there to be its own weird fetish. It has been this way since Vietnam or before as far as I can tell, but I’m telling you the world is an easier place to navigate when you can poop anywhere.
To Suffer or Not to Suffer
But more than poop, our experience in the military and at war has taught us how to suffer and this is a trait I think many Veterans forget all too easily. Because I’m here to tell you that Yoda is full of crap. Suffering doesn’t lead to the dark side, but rather it leads to greatness. I’ve come to the belief that most of the greatest things in life rest just over the summit of Mount Suffering if we would but endure it. In fact, even when Vets are retelling their old war stories you will hear them speak very rarely of the times when life was easy. Rather, our fondest memories are when embracing the suck with brothers was simply the norm. So why should it be so different now?
How is it that many of us who have spent countless months broiling under the Middle East sun, freezing the mountains, or sleeping under a torrential storm have forgotten how to embrace the suck life throws at you? Most of us can recount times that we were so miserable one couldn’t help but just laugh at the thought of what might come next. The ability to handle life’s suffering with wit, resolve, and a little gallows humor is a trait useful long after we take off the uniform. May we please not abandon it so easily.
One particular day in Iraq, myself and my buddy were standing this remote post at the airfield in Al Kut. Cooking in the Iraqi sun, there went about an hour or two whether neither one of us said a word as we embraced that particular suck. Unsure why I did it, I stood up and began beating the crap out of this particularly large Iraqi ammo crate on top of the roof. And then without a word, my buddy joined me. Together we gave that piece of trash crate what it deserved for about 5 minutes before I picked it up and threw it off the roof. We then sat back down without saying a word for another hour or so with barely an acknowledgment of what just happened. Those were the days my brothers and you know it. Let us continue to embrace the suck life throws at us, but most importantly let’s do it together.
Whether it is the ability to poop anywhere, suffer under the most extraordinary of circumstances, or laugh in the face tragedy, let us not forget. I have made it my long-standing policy to speak the greatness of this generation of Veterans and abandon any talk of us being damaged goods. The career field might not have played out like you thought and you may indeed be going through a tough time right now. But I’m pleading with you to consider what is on the other side of Mount Suffering.
Never forget and I mean it, never forget that you can literally poop anywhere and that is in fact something. But also that you can do lots of other stuff good too which are more consequential if have enough humor left in you to consider it. It is indeed suffering to start back at the bottom of the career ladder, but every time your boss walks in the employee bathroom to poop and can’t do it because someone else is already in there just laugh and know you got him beat. Your day will come and when the technical skills match your character you will hit it out of the park, I promise. Life will always have a little suck in it and the future belongs to those who can embrace it.
Now Let’s See those Crapper Pictures, No Wieners Please, and Show the World Just What We Can Do! Oh and Like the Unprecedented Mediocrity Page Below!
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