Friday, May 7, 2010
One of my favorite and sometimes least favorite jobs I did in the Marines was my tour as a Drill Instructor. Yes, Full Metal Jacket yelling and screaming and all of that.
It's what goes behind the "DI Shack" (The Drill Instructors office within the recruits living area also known as a squadbay).
First all of that yelling and screaming does wonders to your throat, DI's tend to lose their voices the first day we get new recruits; Make that, they DO lose their voices (Even the locals out in town know if your a Drill Instructor and just picked up a new platoon of Recruits). We try to combat that with the "DI cocktail" that would be washing down some 800mg Motrin tablets with coffee and then spraying our throats down with Chloroseptic spray. One last look in the mirror, put on your war face and out the door to start the day.
DI's are notorious for having impeccable uniforms, well for one thing we keep many new uniforms at work. Given the chance we'll change into a whole new set, thus keeping that great DI look. Another thing is the shirts. We have to keep them tight around all sides, like really tight, like painted on tight! How to do that? You put the shirt on and grab the extra material to the rear, neatly fold it back, mark it with your finger, take the shirt off and out a safety pin in it. Marines call this "blousing the shirt". I know what your thinking, why not sew it? That would be altering the shirt and that's a big no no in the Marines. Why not tailor it? Well, you can do that, but that pretty much has the same connotation as sewing back the extra material. The other thing we do to keep the shirts tight is wear shirt suspenders which are elastic bands that go from the shirt to your socks front and rear. Actually pretty much all Marines use these when they wear a dress uniform.
Nothing goes in the pockets, wallet in the socks. Pockets to Marines are just there for appearance only.
Camouflage uniforms? Soak them in starch out of the washer and hang them out to dry and then iron them. DI's do get free dry cleaning to include our camouflage uniforms but many just as well iron them themselves.
The famous "smokey" hat, we get two of them. Wear one for work, one for inspections and other special days. Replace the work one when it the sweat begins to turn the felt brown, it will.
Marines always have to keep very short hair and DI's are no exception to that. Almost all DI's wear the "High and Tight" haircut which is no hair on the sides and a patch on top. We are not supposed to completely shave our heads, that would be considered eccentric although the Recruits have to. We are also not supposed to razor shave the sides of our heads when wearing a High and Tight haircut, only clipper cut, but most DI's do shave the sides of their heads as they can maintain their High and Tight by themselves with just a set of clippers. I used to do that. Here comes the secret. I learned to use Skintastic shaving cream for both regular shaving and shaving the sides of my head. I wondered why, and another DI told me "That's how women get smooth shaved legs", aha! I've also learned that Skintastic is a much better deal in shaving cream, but that's the thriftmiser in me.
DI's work crazy hours but another secret is we do try to get in cat naps whenever possible. If the Recruits are in a class most of the DI's will sneak away to the DI lounge where the rumbling snores permeates the air. A DI from each platoon will make their way out into the classroom so that the Recruit's don't think that they are totally free! Another classic place to see DI's sleeping is in the barbers chair. Go to the Parris Island barber shop and I guarantee you will see a DI sleeping in the barbers chair!
Last but not least, the picture in the hat. There are many times as a DI that you can just lose it, maybe go a bit overboard. What to do? Stop, breath, take off your hat and look inside at the picture you place in the crown of your hat, wife, kids etc. Think about them think about your career, put your smokey back on and get back to yelling!