Saturday, May 1, 2010

Yom HaAtzamut, Dilettante Diligence

I left America to the whiz-bang of fireworks, flying from New York two days after American Independence Day. Nearly ten months later, fireworks finally filled the sky once again as Israeli Independence Day, Yom HaAtzamut, followed on the heels of Yom HaZikaron. While most of my unit celebrated the day at home, I remained on base. From a lonely sentry post in the woods I watched the rockets red glare, my first Independence Day as an Israeli citizen passing in uniform with long stretches of guard duty.

Symbolism aside, I remained on base for Yom HaAtzamut as punishment. While the transgression that kept me on base was fairly minor, the penalty brought home the uncomfortably high number of indiscretions attached to my name. A week has not gone in months without me committing a fuk, Israeli military slang for a mess-up.

The last week is as good an example as any of my fukim. On Saturday night, a day removed from our Independence Day break, my commander discovered a bullet in my vest as we prepared to start a "dry exercise," i.e. a drill conducted without any live ammunition for safety reasons. Somehow neither I nor another soldier had noticed the bullet when we had each separately checked my vest shortly before the officer's review. The punishment came swiftly: I was not allowed to participate in any training for the next 24 hours, relegated instead to kitchen and guard duty. So instead of krav maga, shooting and helicopter training, I chopped tomatoes and watched the wind whisper through the trees on guard duty. I was devastated at the idiocy of my error and the consequence of missing out on the training. Of course, more important than the training I missed out on is recognizing that a life could theoretically have been endangered due to my initial error. Stupid, stupid, stupid, I told myself as I went to sleep on Saturday night to the sound of my peers completing the training mission.

I have tried and failed to pinpoint the source of my frequent errors. The best answer I have come to is that whether for personal or cultural reasons, I am simply not as diligent as many of my younger, Israeli peers. Attention to detail has never been an obvious fault of mine in the past and so I am confident this is an issue I can resolve. My peers here often note how impressed they are by my resilience. With some attention to detail, hopefully my diligence can meet with the some praise and avoid spending future holidays on base.

1 comment:

  1. Attention to detail is not a characteristic, it is a lesson to be learned.
    Resilience is a characteristic that one either has or doesn't have.
    You have it more than anybody I know.
    That resilience will allow you to overcome this minor shortcoming and continue to excel as a chayal.