Saturday, May 10, 2008

Close the Bathroom Door, Please!

I left home at seventeen to join the army. I spoke only French, most of the business is done in English, and the vast majority of its members are anglophone. That’s because England and France have always fought over everything, including new colonies like the one that would become Canada. When the goings got too rough for France, instead of defending its assets in Quebec, they decided to abandon us to the English. Instead, France chose to keep Guadeloupe. I wonder how that worked for them...

Back to the story. So, yes, the first few years learning English in the army were fun...

But. Do I have stories to tell now! I thought I could start your weekend with a fun anecdote about a (then) seventeen year old chick surrounded by army dudes with nothing better to do than teach her all kinds of bad English words. The badder the better (that’s an oxymoron if I ever saw one). Without further ado, let me tell you about..

The Tale of the Bathroom Sign

Yes, my lovelies, back in, ohhh what the late 80s, I was in charge of giving the out-transfer briefings to groups of soldiers about to move on to new bases or assignments. My boss would set up the times, locations, etc, then I’d make my way there. I’ve given those briefings in all kinds of locales and weather, in front of 2, 7 or 168 soldiers in various states of dress, stress and preparedness. Sometimes, I’d show up at airfields and give my briefing in hangars amidst the sound of power tools and engine testing. Or they’d have a tent set up for me somewhere in the field between artillery practice exercises. Or even on ships about to deploy for 9 months. I never knew what to expect. Except for one thing: they knew I was coming, and they knew I was a girl.

And military guys, they like to play pranks, they do.

When my boss set up a briefing with the guys from the bomb squad who’d graduated from a course and were going back home, I got my stuff, jumped into an Iltis (old Volkswagen-made military jeeps that have since then been retired from the Canadian military...death traps but so much fun to drive) and drove to what was called the “ammo school”. Once I got there, I noticed the school seemed deserted. Parked the car, entered the building (fancy name for a collection of second world war-era, wooden sheds) and started looking around for the conference room. In other words, the cafeteria. No one. Silence. Damn, I told myself. Did I have the wrong place?
But then I spotted the ladies’ bathroom sign hanging above the door. Not knowing when I'd be able to use it again, I set my stuff down, hiked up my jacket and started to loosen my webbed belt as I opened the door with the other hand. Inside was not a ladies’ bathroom.

It was the conference room I'd been looking for. Filled with about 60 guys from young privates-who-didn't-know-any-better to mature warrant-officers-who-should've-known-better, sitting in perfect silence. Waiting.
They'd switched the signs above the doors. Ladies room and conference room. Funny. Har har.

Apparently, I said “Oh, shit.” Then proceeded to speak lots of French really fast, to general laughter. They had way too much fun with this. I hated these guys for a good two months afterward. Any time a group of them would graduate from the ammo school, my boss would get someone else to do their briefings because he knew I’d arrange for them to be shipped to Siberia with their tropical kits. Pricks.

But damn, it was funny.

Hope your day is a good one. Remember to laugh. Even if someone messes with the bathroom signs.


Sally Painter said...

Well, just be grateful it was done prior to YOU TUBE! Hugs!

Ciana Stone said...

and virtually blow them suckers up in a book as a way of paying them back!!

N.J.Walters said...


You can get your revenge when you launch your take-over-the-world attack!

Nicole Austin said...

Ah, yes. All that testosterone and armed to boot. Military boys sure do love to mess with us. Can't tell you how many times I fell victim to their pranks, but it was all basically harmless and a lot of fun.