2 Few, 2 Proud

How not to become a Marine

As it stands, I must wait 30 days or so before driving up for a physical I suspect I'll fail anyway. Still worth the risk, as long as they don't mind that I'm still on probation—long story. Turns out they do mind.

Lopez immediately asks me when my probation ends and I tell him, well, it's more like I'm out on bail, actually. He lifts his head then sinks his chin to his chest, closing his eyes and exhaling slowly. Then he looks straight into my eyes, tells me again that it's his sense that we all have pasts, but that it all has to be taken care of before it can be considered "past." If I were on probation, we'd have to wait until it was complete; it's not like you can take a break from basic training to serve time.

I stand, a bit surprised and a bit ashamed. I apologize to Lopez for wasting his time. He gives me a firm handshake and a smile.

The few, the proud, the not me. Photo by Sergeant Thomas W. Ammons/U.S. Army
The few, the proud, the not me. Photo by Sergeant Thomas W. Ammons/U.S. Army

"It's not a waste of time if it's given you the information you need," he says, and damn if that doesn't make me wish I could be a Marine.

On my way out, I pass a guy walking out of a medical building for a smoke. I bum a cigarette and tell him I've just been rejected by the Marines. I tell him I'm not sure how I feel about it.

He looks at me.

"Ineligible for the Marines? In this day and age?" He takes a drag and exhales wistfully. "Man, that's a good thing."

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