Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org & Knatz.com / Stories / Conviviality / Army /
@ K. estimate early 2000s
It happens again and again. I’ve been drafted into some shit job. No pay. No vacations. No advancement … And the bureaucrat with pay, vacations, and advancement sees that they can get me to do their job for them as well as my own slave job.
Short version: Bea’s job was to type the Orders. Bea got me to do it for her. Bea soon asked me to train Mel to do it too. I noticed that the code was actually a highly abbreviated form of English, that once you surmised that the orders said in effect, “Hey, Fort Dix, this here is Whitehall Street Induction Station. Today we’re sending you thirty new government inspected male humans“, obscurity clarified. I saw it right away. I could guess the code and type it before Bea so instructed me. And that’s how I tried to teach it to Mel: via comprehension. Mel didn’t like it. He just wanted to be told Now type an A, now type an B, now copy the contents of this box: [this box] … I watched Bea glower at me as I did this. I occurred to me: she’s been doing this for years. She never knew what it meant! she’s been doing it Mel’s way! She memorized the A, then the B, then she knew to copy whatever the little box said.
Uh oh. Bosses can’t stand to have their stupidity exposed: not even to themselves.
Oh well, then they shouldn’t draft anyone but other idiots.
Bea took me off the job and went back to training Mel herself.
At Whitehall Street Induction Station, civil service worker, Bea, was in charge of the typing pool. A half a dozen privates, fresh out of basic training, all of us drafted the same couple of days, all of us with birthdays within a few days of each other, all of us just graduated from college, all of us English majors, all of us draftees, are put under Bea to type up forms in quadruplicate, processing that day’s draftees. Name, address, date of birth, blood type, intelligence score, record of felonies … One other private had been added to the typing pool just a month or two before the rest of us arrived in a lump: Mel. Mel was RA: regular army. He’d enlisted. Anything that was done to him, it could be argued: he’d asked for: he was a volunteer; not a draftee. Of the new arrivals, I’d gone to Columbia, Jake to Cornell. That’s two Ivy League graduates right there. Phil had gone to Ursinus, a small college I’d never heard of, but, judging from Phil’s individuality as a reader, thinker, and poet, which I came to appreciate before too long as our friendship developed, Ursinus wasn’t too shabby a little college. Maybe it was on some sort of a level near Colgate or Amherst or Hamilton … Mike had gone to CCNY: knew a little something. And the others? God. Queens College. Some fashion design school: that sort of tripe. But not Mel. Mel was your typical peace-time recruit: solid in his lack of ambition as well as in his ignorance and lack of abilities. Jake had both the highest batting average and the lowest ERA in the Ivy League for 1960; Mel … could eat lunch. What Mel could not do was learn how to fill out the forms in quadruplicate so that they passed the next check point: Sgt. Lyons’ perusal to see if the name was in fact the guy’s name, if it appeared within an inch and a half of the Name box on copies 3 and 4, if any of the data was in any way related to the candidate. I’m going to fast forward to the Chase as it were for a moment. Mel had seniority over us intellectuals. Sure enough, after the minimum time, Mel was promoted. In the old army, he would have gained a corporal’s stripe: one stripe short of buck sergeant. In the new army the new version of E4 was Spec4: Specialist Fourth Class. A minimum amount of time later, Mel’s universal incompetence was rewarded and he was promoted to recruiting. In the typing pool Mel had always gotten the maximum number of three days passes and so forth. No one much cared if he took three hour lunches. His work was not missed.
[Specialist: what a riot: the price wears a blue garter, now the courtiers have to have a blue garter. This guy cuts out your tonsils, that guy cuts off your appendix: specialists! So the society’s military branch which can’t tell a pawn from a bishop classifies by “specialty”, making it impossible to tell a profession from a con racket.]
Bea’s job was to type the Orders of the Day and to forward them to Fort Dix aboard the bus that carried that day’s load of kleptocracy-fodder. Bea had had the bright idea of training Mel to type the orders for her. Gee, he can’t type the simple forms; maybe he can type the complex orders! It took Mel a long time to find the J or the D or any other key on the typewriter. Once he found it, there was an at least 50% chance that that’s the key his finger would in fact contact and depress. These depressions were interspersed with Mel screaming aloud, “I want to hold you ha – n – d.” I might have come to enjoy the Beetles far sooner in the early sixties if I hadn’t heard them first via Mel.
I’ll flesh in more details on some occasion when I am less pressed to take care of other Knatz.com matters. But:
Notice: Does It Matter? Does Anything Matter? Is there any difference of any importance between whether we live or die? Whether we live well or abominably? Between a great love, a great meal, a great movie … and, say, torture at the hands of the Inquisition?
In theory, the boss is supposed to know more than the employee, the general is supposed to be more competent than the private … The teacher is supposed to have a better command of the subject than the student. But these generalizations are frequently untrue in a kleptocracy. Any of the dethroned aristocrats might have better manners (regardless of their crimes) than the butchers, bakers, and peasants sending them to the guillotine. The deposed Lama might be vastly wiser than the Communist functionary who can now push him around. The twelve year old Jesus may have understood the Torah as well or perhaps even better than the adult rabbis who were testing him. The Orthodox (Anything) that refuses to play Major League Baseball because they play on the Sabbath might be a better homerun hitter than the faithless League’s official Best. Newton, just washed up on Pango Pango, may understand the motions of the sea better than government cabinet his drenched body is dragged before.
Nature tests us from moment to moment. The king of the hill doesn’t stay king for more than an hour or two. Once the lion has drunk at the water hole, other creatures should get a turn. But not in kleptocracy. In kleptocracy, this property is mine: you stay off it. You stay off it whether I’m here to mind my property or not. My minority somehow got the rest of you to pay taxes to hire these bozos, put them into uniforms, arm them, and have them watch my property for me while I’m off in Florida marlin fishing. In kleptocracy, the young have to die so the old don’t have to be competent. Neither France nor Germany kept track of the talents of the soldiers sent to their doom in the trenches. The Kaiser had no accurate inventory of his population’s abilities. He only had the Church’s and the Capitalist’s and the Army’s version of who was a priest and who was an industrialist and who was a private. The private could be a Kepler, a Homer. What does the Kaiser care?