Reminisces of a Ricky Ninja
Where does all the extra shit go when you have six minutes for a whole unit to shit shower and shave?
Arguably, the military is probably the best job you could ever have.
I say that only because of the advice we got from one of our commanding officers right at the start of my journey into boot camp.
During induction and the filling out of paperwork you’re told that you can retire rich if you just save your money.
It’s no joke.
Problem is, most everyone who goes into the military is going there because they need a little discipline in their lives, not because they are smart; saving money requires said discipline — even when your room and board is paid for.
However, If you do go in because you are smart, then you are off to a wonderful and rewarding career… and yes, you can retire a millionaire.
I was everyone. I’d like to slough off a little blame onto my best friend who dropped from our buddy system agreement at the last minute, and think that he was the one who needed the discipline, but who’s asking? Regardless, I was far from smart.
When you step off the bus and out into the chilly Chicago air, you’re not thinking of Forest Gump, and you’re not handed a bundled uniform right off the bat. How would they know your size?
You file through an airplane hangar with wooden folding tables topped and manned by uniformed personnel and military attire. It’s like an assembly line at an automotive plant, but the only mechanical parts are the soldiers. Of which you will slowly become a part.
Each step you take, you answer another question, name, size, etc. and are handed an appropriate piece of starter equipment and uniform. No time to stop and try it on. You get what you get, and you don’t pitch a fit. Fit’s don’t go over well there. They actually go under well. Because under the stair well is where you will be sitting if you attempt such a ludicrous act. I’ve seen it.
Boots, sweater, sweat pants, socks, underwear, bag, toothbrush, comb, soap, toothbrush holder, badge, hat, jacket, check, check, check, and that’s your first check... and your second check. All charged to you, for you in the great U.S. of A.
You’ll go along collecting all of your essentials until say one hundred of you fill the lines of tables that snake their way back and forth across the concrete interior. Once the bay is full up and the line comes to a stop, the band-aid is ripped off your privacy in one great guffaw.
All at once you’re asked to get into your new attire. The officer’s voice will echo under the tin roof of the expansive and otherwise empty airplane hangar.
“Drop your drawers.”
At this point, some of you may be trying to picture the sea of assets that would stretch out before you, and for a brief moment, one may consider the immense advantage he would have if he had an aversion to the opposite sex. But, all in all, you’d be so busy covering your own candids that the thought would evaporate even before you had a chance to entertain it. Maybe it’s something about being so small and naked in open spaces.
If you do happen to imagine the same thing happening in the women’s hangar, just a few clicks west, and the ocean of tits gets your prick a little tingle. You best enjoy it. From here on out there’ll be so much salt peter in your sandwiches that you won’t think of sex for a month. Well, three to be exact.
Once you’re clothed and ushered inside a hallway (don’t worry about your things, they’ll be shipped home) you’ll be up for your first drug test. There’s a neat little queue where you come from a hallway into a square room and are told to walk circles like you’re in a automotive roundabout. Every once in a while you’ll stop at a fountain for a sip. Then, once you’ve deposited your liquid currency, it’s on to the hall of needles.
There will have to be at least one person bound and gagged. What? You didn’t think you had a choice about immunizations did you?
I can imagine it might be a little frightening for someone who’s afraid of needles, or pain in general, to be looking through a tunnel of corpsman armed with syringes, after they’ve been systematically treated like a robot.
Camouflaged arms emerge and inject from both sides, as each recruit advances step by step. Shots. Two in each shoulder, two in each thigh, then some kind of pneumatic gun is fired into your arm, and you’re asked to bend over a table in the next room where they will squeeze a wad of bubblegum into your left ass cheek to prevent tetanus.
You grimace when they poke you so that the man across from you thinks it’s going to be worse.
We think it’s funny. Those of us who don’t get bound and gagged.
You’ll start to get used to the term ‘we’ from here on out.
In basic there is no ‘you.’
‘You’ is a person who does everything, you is a person who does nothing. You want to be part of the ‘We’ who all do the same thing.
Your mutual identity won’t take too long to grow into. Of course, learning normally takes a few good examples, like the one guy who will try and show off.
An over-achiever will set the bar too high for everyone else, which everyone will be miserably grateful for. An under-achiever will reward the rest of us with more exercise, also for which we will be miserably grateful.
There will be an unspoken curiosity among the throng of recruits by the end of boot camp. It will be a question hard on the minds of every man at the beginning of his adventure and a worry that duly vanishes weeks into training. But where does it go? Were talking about the mystery of the shit.
To toilet, shower, and shave, recruits are given approximately six minutes. Given there are twenty recruits in a class and only four toilets, six sinks, and eight shower heads, there is no way physically possible that every man will get his turn on the throne.
Albeit, even when during those six minutes there was a constant line in front of each stall waiting for the next man to depart. One stall was absent a door and another was always locked. So at least one poor sap, who really needed to do his business, stared directly at the next poor sap from his spot on the porcelain while the other glowered at him and the clock above his head.
As far as dignity, there was none. But, if the only time to use the toilet was when instructed and the time was always limited, then where did all of those dumps that didn’t get dropped get off to?
And, this is where Ricky Ninjas were born. For all of those fellas who didn’t get time to do their number two, there was only one other time possible to do their business. That was during the dark of night, while one man stood watch and everyone else was supposed to be sleeping.
After the class had done its PT, passed by the Annex, and written home to Mum, the Petty Officers would settle us into our racks with great expectations and leave us with our orders.
The nights would be quiet to start. But, as the minutes passed you’d hear a whimper here, or a ‘I miss my mommy’ there. And, as the hour approached, the silence would finally grow so thick you could hear only the tick of the clock and the soft glide of the watchman’s soles on the concrete. Occasionally, the aluminum would creak when the man on watch settled in for a sit on the folding chair by the entrance.
Then, it was time to put all of that ninja training, from back home, to good use. From the top bunk, I would drop silently to the ground, and unbeknownst to the watchman, slide silently along the cinder block walls to the locker rooms for a private SBD (silent but deadly).
All-in-all, those Ricky Ninjas, who opted for this release, had no easier time than those who made the go for the power dump, during normal business hours.
Sitting on the cold latrine, the danger of getting the entire class in deep doodoo, was only one unnecessarily noisy fart away.
You get awoken when one recruit gets caught doing his nightly doodie to the sound of,
“Thirty more, recruit, and silently! And, you better hope not a soul wakes up or they are all going to be thanking you for another hundred!”
The sound of his chest smacking concrete and his labored breathing said he’d been on the ground pressing out push-ups for a while.
The first time I heard the term Ricky Ninja, was one morning during inspection.
Reveille had sprung us all to our feet.
The sound of the horn meant you had just minutes to step out of bed into your boots, get your bunk so tight you can bounce a quarter off, and stand at attention at the end. Nearly every morning, at least one private Pile would still be snoozing, and we’d all get roasted for a while. There’s little time to worry about everyone else when you had your own bed to make, but that mattered none.
You were an imbecile if, in the minutes before rack time, you didn’t get your bedside locker straightened up, your boots polished, and all of your belongings in a perfect line along your rack’s edge (It was measured).
But, this morning, as the Petty Officer made his way down the line of the class, two or three recruits seemed to have objects out of place. A boot scuffed here, a bag shifted there, a locker cracked open; someone had sabotaged his classmates during the night.
In basic, there are no rebuttals. Though, one recruit decided otherwise that morning.
“What’s going on here, Recruit?”
“I’m not sure, Petty Officer.”
“You’re not sure?” then looking at his assistant, “He’s not sure!”
“It was in place last night.” said the recruit.
“It was in place last night, he says. Well Recruit, last night is long gone. This morning is what we’re dealing with now.”
As the whole class got beaten (the term for doing exercise beyond exhaustion) we all locked eyes with the person across from our place of pain, suspicious of who would do such a thing. As sweat beaded on our brows, the Petty Officers exchanged sarcastic comments with one another.
‘I guess it was a Ricky Ninja!’ says one to the other.
‘Ricky Ninjas, they’ll get you every time.’
Over the months, the Ricky Ninjas will disappear and the class will start working together more and more. At the head of the class will be a man doing cadence. His job is to say or sing ‘one, two, three, four’ in as many creative combinations as is possible. This keeps everyone in step as you navigate all the career readying classes in-store during your time there.
All the branches have unique skill sets. As a Seaman (spare the jokes, you’ll hear them all) you’ll undergo all the ins and outs of life on the water. You’ll belay lines, earn your firefighter certification, tie knots, and fire a 9mm and a M-16. Also, you’ll have to jump from the high-dive. Another case in which someone will have to be bound and gagged. Why would they join the Navy if they were afraid of the water?
Universally, you’ll learn about all of the dangers of financial irresponsibility and the core common sense skills that all military personnel are expected to posses.
Writing an IOU on a napkin at a strip club counts as a check, and sticking q-tips in your ears is stupid.
Before your time near the Great Lakes is finished, you’ll be standing up straight, looking your parents in the eye, and looking forward to your first drink as a sailor. But, watch out! Word is there are Officers in disguise between here and your next station… Will you take the risk?
After graduation, you’ll be flown coach to your new duty station. If you’ve chosen wisely you will be up for a few months of top of the line schooling, and great weekends with killer friends.
When you are through with your deployment and if you opt to enter normal society, among the throngs of civilian life and employment again, you will feel less than satisfied with everyone’s work ethic.
My advice, if you get a start in any branch of service, stick it out for a double deployment and save every penny allowable in your pension. Else, you’ll spend the rest of your life looking for a job that has near enough benefits, half the conviction of your co-workers, and comes with built in qualifications that last a lifetime.
I’ll get tarred and feathered by civilians for saying so, but
I think everyone should be required to undergo basic before being released into today’s woe-is-me workforce.
Jay Horne is an author and publisher out of Bradenton, Florida who has shared a genuine interest in philosophy and writing since early childhood. He is a husband and father of four. Jay enjoys writing fiction, humor, horror, and teen & young adult.
View all of his professional and philosophical works of literature on his Amazon author page where you will find blogs, videos, and free excerpts:
Jay M Horne