The Bad Soldier

I'm not a religious person but there have been times I've prayed. One of those times was during a battery run in Korea. Our commander was a runner. She looooved to run. While I can see getting a charge off of leading one hundred (or about sixty once you account for those on duty or on profile) soldiers on a run, it is a different feeling when you are in formation with a restricted stride, and even worse if you're boxed in. All you see are heads and shoulders. You don't have a clear view of the road ahead. The commander does, though. I'm going off on a tangent here I know. Bear with me. Running ability feeds into the first impression some officers get from their soldiers. If the soldier hangs in there and finishes, he or she is deemed strong. That person has stamina and strength; they won't desert you in battle. They can tough it out. Then there's the other kind.

I was the other kind.

I was not and am not a runner. There is a bit of relief in me knowing that I will not have to run a two mile timed test EVER AGAIN IN MY LIFE if I don't choose to. I have said this is one of the list of things from being in the Army that I don't miss. In fact it is at the top of the list. One of the things I DO miss is being in great shape, but there's the rub. I will take a softer, rounder body in exchange for never having to run again. It's a fair trade.

I know my hate for running showed and I know my commander judged me on that. It doesn't matter how good I was at my actual job, the fact still remained that I sucked at running. Fine. But one day we started off on a long run and while I usually sucked at hanging in there, this time I quit for a legitimate reason.

I had to go.

You know exactly what I mean, I hope. I don't want to get into the sordid details. I HAD TO GO.

We hit the two mile point and there was a sudden twinge in my gastrointestinal tract. It's awful when it happens that way. Life is great, you feel perfectly fine and then--

--you don't. Suddenly you're in panic mode. If you're around a bathroom you consider a safe haven, then it's a minor diversion. If you've ventured to an unknown territory, it's an emergency.

Oddly enough, I remember looking over and seeing a weathered red porta potty just off of the road. But this was Korea. They didn't use the blue stuff in Korea. There was no telling how often that thing got emptied. It probably didn't even have toilet paper! My site had no plumbing and I was used to porta potties, but this was a unique case and I wasn't willing to take the risk on an unfamiliar latrine on the edge of a runway. This situation required a brick and mortar potty. I stopped, let the battery go on without me, made an about face and started off on my walk to the battalion headquarters. There was a gym there, and somewhere inside of that building was a flushing toilet.

I must have prayed the entire way back, in my head, mostly, though I may have said them under my breath in case God couldn't hear my thoughts.
Please God don't let me crap my pants.

Hey. Stop that laughing. Yeah I know, I know, you've got jokes. I was running when I got, well, the runs. Har har. You'd better hope you never find yourself in a similar situation.

It was two miles back and I picked up the pace as time ticked down and distance grew short. I was a clenching, praying time bomb. And what do you know, I made it to the gym.

I thanked God.

When I later explained (she asked) I had to GO, her answer was "Well why didn't you just use the porta potty?"

God forgives, but commanders are merciless.

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