The Golden and Olden Years
So this is why my thoughts turned to a time when everything worked properly. Quite naturally my early weeks in the Army came to mind. That is when raw recruits learn that sergeants aren't God. No, they are far more powerful than a mystical, and perhaps mythical, figure in the sky. Sergeants are on the ground right beside you and are there for the purpose of destroying any illusion of joy and happiness in your life.
Take the sergeant who carried a hickory switch that he used to thump recruits on the head. This was not a solid swagger stick carried by a puffed-up officer who hoped to swagger more impressively. The hickory switch was flexible so that it inflicted maximum pain without fracturing a skull.
The sergeant enjoyed using his stick on a helpless head on all occasions, but especially when we were duck waddling. His victims were those who were not quacking loudly enough, at least in his opinion.
While in an uncommonly good mood one day he explained why he carried and used the switch on people unable to retaliate. His exact words were, "I don't use the switch because I don't like you. I use the switch because I hate every bone in your worthless body."
His words were a morale booster. He didn't dislike us after all. In fact, after hearing them I felt almost as good as I do on the average day in my Golden Years.