Friday, August 13, 2010

Legacy of the Grenade

Grenades are easily a soldier's scariest weapon. One slip and the big bang is going off in your hands. Worse yet is when the little bombers are tucked in my vest and the command comes through to roll and juke across rough terrain. Even when the grenades in question are only practice grenades (instead of exploding they make a loud popping noise), the slim safety clip does little to inspire much confidence.

So when I threw a practice grenade at a friend during a dry (non-live fire) night drill, I was immediately devastated. How could I have misinterpreted the instructions not to use the weapon? Why didn't common sense override my conviction that I had been given the grenade to use in this very drill? And why, of all the people I could have targeted, did it have to be one of my best friends on my squad?

My commander did not appear as devastated when I dutifully informed him of my mega-fadicha (faux pas, f-up, etc). But speaking to him only deepened my disappointment in myself, especially knowing that I had only further undermined my commander's already very poor opinion of yours truly. Instead of putting in a week's work that could alter his perception, I had gone ahead and made things worse. Any chance to salvage something from the week disappeared when the boss ordered me back to base. I spent the rest of the week playing with tape and string while my squad warred in the Galilee hillsides. Epic frustration, press play.

Three days alone on base was just the start of the time my commander would give me to reflect on my errant toss. Rituk, the boss explained at the end of the week, means a soldier is confined (the literal meaning of the term) to base for 28 days. That is, while everyone else goes home on the occasional weekend off, a soldier suffering the consequences of a nasty rituk sticks it out on base alone. I was handed 35 days as punishment. Sort of a super rituk, rituk a la mode.

Having already closed the past home-shabbat for a prior fadicha (the saturday night business), my summer out of uniform now disappeared before my eyes. All for a quiet pop I would take back for all the fireworks in the world.

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