And finally, I’m halfway there. It feels really good to know that you’re less than 1 year to escaping the grasps of the SAF, the shades of green, getting backing your pink IC that we never treasured and the coveted rank : CIVILLIAN.
After 4 months of being a recruit and 2 months of being a signal trainee, I’m now settling into my unit life at 21SA HQ. No more falling in at what so time, no need to wayang to go to SCS/OCS, no more getting treated like trainees. No wonder I finally feel like myself now, because there is absolutely no need to act differently or hide anything. So what do the signalers at HQ exactly do? Well, we fix computers, do photoshop, replace fire extinguishers and set up PA systems, all of which is non-army related. Seriously? Yes seriously, and other than that we just do any other stuff that we got arrowed to do. Although life has been mundane and rather uneventful so far at unit, I shall not complain as my life is so much better than the other signalers at battery side/10C4I/SIRs/combat engineer units. At days without activities, I can to wake up whatever time I want, I do not have to dread force prep or outfield exercises, and if I got really nothing to do, I sleep and sleep and sleep until I ruin my sleep cycle, winding up sleeping late at the end of the day. With still a relatively long journey ahead, maybe its time to really plan out how I want to use this free time I have, rather than wasting it away. Run 1 hour, study Korean 1 hour, watch K-drama 2 hour, something like my own timetable. Of course I would be rather be of use as an admin clerk than rotting at bunk nearly everyday, but again, be careful what you wish for as they may come true and I’ll be like “Fuck this shit”. No wonder I feel like I lack a direction in life these days, because I have nothing to work towards to. Maybe I should really complain less regarding army, because really there are many more out there who go it much worse than me. Rule of thumb: Practice contentment. Because if you don’t, you will never be happy with what you have.
Being 1 year in the army, I definitely learnt some life lessons. The most obvious one applies to everywhere I have been at, and would apply to the workplace in the future, which is how people would ‘wayang‘ just to impress people on top of them. The way people try and achieve this feat seriously disgusts me, all the bootlicking and sucking of dicks. There’s a fine line between being enthusiastic and wayang. The first time I saw this was in BMT, and this is where the natural leaders earn respect among their peers while the wayang just get hated on. They didn’t have to fall in first in the morning, or did extensive cleaning during stand-by areas (ABTM reference hah), they were themselves and their unchanged behavior is what made them well liked in the platoon. The only plus side of having a wayang king in my section is that he does our area cleaning very extensively. Subsequently, these people made it to OCS, while the “wayang” king in the platoon only made it to SCS. To rub salt into his wound, his application to be a pilot in the air force got rejected as well (HAHAHAHAHA). In SI, there was very little signs of this since we are already stuck as man already, but when we entered unit, the bootlicking got multiplied so much more. Seeing how some people try to act close to those superior and the stark difference in treatment of different people, these people… *censoring of words*, are really no different than a bunch of *more censoring of words*. I know I’m going to see a lot of this as well when I head to the workplace after graduating from university, and now I’m not sure if I can take seeing such behavior. The only advice I would give myself is to act the way I normally am, not need to change myself to impress others, people have eyes.
The hierarchy system in the SAF is the thing which disgusts me. In the SAF, rank always wins, and maybe this is the reason why people wayang in hope for a quick promotion. Just because I am of lower rank than my superiors, I am compelled to listen to them, or else I would be charged with the much commonly heard “insubordination”. Sometimes the regulars need to drill this fact into their head, that they are dealing with a bunch of 20 year olds who don’t care about and do not owe anything to the organization. This is the main reason why I find it hard to respect any people, as the only thing that is protecting them is the rank on the chest. Take it off, and see how people change and treat you. Through your actions and words, that is what earns you the respect, not the number of bars, crabs or stars on your chest. It feels good when your superiors acknowledges the work you put in, and similarly, you feel cheated when the work you do is not recognized. To quote an example (so GP-ish), me, Tai Yun and Sylvester cleaned up a control point which was under Cyrus. I saw it as me just being unlucky and did the saikang we got arrowed to do. Surprisingly, my upper-study Sean recommended half-day off for us, which was given, and Cyrus BC Cpt Tay bought Gong Cha for us in liew of the work we did. This is also seen by how two of my sergeants used their own money to treat the people doing guard duty with KFC, expecting nothing in return. Fast forwarding to the ORD function, a group of us had to stay back Tuesday night to prepare stores while the others get to book out, and had to return to camp to keep the stores while people get to go home after the function. Cpt Tay and S3 recommended one and a half-day off for us, which made us happy that our efforts were recognized and we were rewarded accordingly, then the *even more censoring* CO (I dont care if you have 2 crabs, all of which wouldn’t matter when I get back my pink IC) cancelled the off and gave us 1 nights out, 1 fucking nights out. WOW, thank you so much for the generous reward. Maybe some of these people have been at the top too long and have no idea what the people below do for them. It also sickens me that these high-rank people get all the recognition while the true fact is that its their man’s hard work. As great as you are as a high-rank officer, you are only as good as the men you lead.
The second one would apply more in my days in the university, that not everyone you meet will be friends, you are bound to meet some people whom you can’t just along. In BMT, I didn’t encounter this problem as my whole platoon, especially my lovable Section 2, were all sociable and easy to talk to (except for the exceptionally weird people). Maybe it helped that my batch all came from JC, so our backgrounds didn’t clash so much. I only encountered this problem when I went for my signals course, where I met people which came from much diverse backgrounds. When you meet with these people, your world start to open bit by bit because for 6 years, I have been meeting the same people in the same school and never considered how other people from different backgrounds would be like. Being at DHS for so long, it was very easy to stereotype these kind of people who may not come from the same background as me, but I am glad that the army was a revenue to meet these different people who actually existed. My first impression of people from mono-intake was that they only know how to resort to violence and threaten people aimlessly, thinking that they are all that big. Some of it still holds, but actually most of them are approachable and easy to talk to. You won’t like everyone you work with, but sometimes you have to act indifferent and put all the hate away if you want to accomplish something. I hope I would carry this attitude to me with the people I work with in university in the future and be less judgmental of my peers.
So what’s up at 21SA now? Our new signal sergeants and BSO posted in recently, and you could tell easily that the culture in my current batch is much different from the previous batch which ORD recently. I think all of them got a culture shock when they first saw us, especially our BSO, just like us when we got posted in 6 months ago. The first thing our BSO saw was a group of us sitting in the office watching TV, reading newspaper or playing games on our camera phones, which was the total opposite of what he visioned to be I supposed. After going through 9 months of shit, I think he expected himself to lead a platoon of signal man in setting up the radio set and establishing communications. I shouldn’t be judging him so early, but I feel like all of us isn’t going to have an easy time if he continues to act this way. The important thing he needs to establish that he’s an officer now, not a sergeant who still need to seeks approval. That’s why the gap between sergeant and man is much closer as compared to officer and man. I respect sirs who is able to establish a link and are close with their man, and this is why I wished our old BSO would extend his ORD LOL. He’s a fair man who goes the extra mile for his man, and also gives incentive for our hard work. The current BSO gives off like the off is part of his flesh. Maybe I need to write a 5 page economics essay on why off is good for us LOL. You could tell the mood isn’t as good as before, all of us are less willing to do things. Maybe because I’m stuck at HQ too long, so doing things is not a given but now seen as just you suay.
So 1 year… Being in the army hasn’t been all that bad. The confinement period where I was away from home from 3 weeks really thought me a lot. Throughout my army path so far, from Tekong to Stagmont and to Kranji, I learnt bits of pieces about myself and how to treat others with all the different people I have met so far. It has also thought me to treasure the people around me, mainly my family and friends. And no, army didn’t teach me to take our country’s safety for granted and any of the bullshit. The only reason why we stay strong is not for the country, but for the people around us, whom we do take for granted at times. Although 2 years of my precious youth were taken away, I will try to make the most of the time out of it rather than suffer in misery. Asides from the miserable pay, the only bright side is that we do not need to look at the books for 2 years and our brains get to have a rest after years of studying and continuously being under stress (as compared to our poor female peers). I have seen people who really ROT their life inside and achieve nothing at all. I do not want to fall in that category, so it’s time to get off the bed and do something productive. But remember that my worth is not pegged to what I achieve in camp, I still have a life outside in camp. Time to buck up, Nick. Or in army terms, WAKE UP YOUR IDEA.
This is more of a post filled with rants and I may have not covered the things which I wanted to, shall keep that for the next army-related post. So congrats myself for hitting the 50% mark. We’re halfway there gentleman.
Off-topic: Today’s Taeyeon 25th birthday (OMG she’s 25?!). I’m sorry that my bias has shifted to Seohyun, but still Taeyeon was my 1st bias! Happy birthday to our butt loving, forever ahjumma and kid leader~