Monday, December 1, 2008

What a great story

Gotta love Joel.

At one point as a grunt in the Israeli Army, I was assigned to work for a high-ranking sergeant major. This guy had years of experience. He was probably 20 years older than me and the other kids in the unit. Even in the field, he always looked immaculate -- he wore a spotless, starched, pressed, full-dress uniform with impeccably polished shoes no matter how dusty and muddy the world around him got. You had the feeling that he slept under 300-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets each night while the rest of us rolled around in dusty sleeping bags on the ground.

As for the sergeant major's job, it basically consisted of two main duties: being the chief disciplinary officer and maintaining the physical infrastructure of the base. As such, he was a terror to everyone in the battalion. Most people knew him only from the way he strutted around, conducting inspections, screaming at the top of his lungs, and demanding impossibly high standards of order and cleanliness in what was essentially a bunch of tents in the middle of the desert -- tents that were alternately dust-choked or mud-choked, depending on the rain situation.

Anyway, on my first day of work for the sergeant major, I didn't know what to expect. I was sure it was going to be horrible, a suspicion that seemed to be confirmed when he took me to the officers' bathroom and told me I would be responsible for keeping it clean. And then he said something I didn't anticipate.

"Here's how you clean a toilet," he said.

And he got down on his knees in front of the porcelain bowl -- in his pressed-starched-spotless dress uniform -- and scrubbed it with his bare hands until it shined.

I want to be like that guy. Minus the wardrobe upgrade. And the screaming.

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