Sunday, January 29, 2006

Twenty years and twenty three days ago...

It was January 6th, 1986. I think it was a Sunday night, but I can't recall. I've lost too many hair follicles since then, and there are some things you just sort of blot out of your mind.

I was in the Greyhound bus station in Aiken, SC and I was hugging my Mom and Dad goodbye to go off to boot camp at Lackland AFB in SanAntonio, TX. I was joining the United States Air Force. First, I had to go through processing at Ft. Jackson in Columbia, SC (about an hour or so away by bus), take the oath, take another medical exam and then board the plane to Texas.

Now the smart ones in the audience are saying, "Why didn't you remember this on the 6th, Bill?" Well, it just so happens that I turned around in my desk chair and looked at the wall and saw my certificate of appointment as a Sergeant, and it all came flooding back.

The world was different then, and I wasn't the guy you read on this blog. I was younger and naive and undisciplined and just beginning to put myself on the path that I'm on now. My mother still says that was the most scared she's ever seen me in her life. I wish I could say she's wrong, but that would be a lie. It probably is the most scared she's ever seen me.

There's a a lot of things I learned while I was in the military - discipline, attention to detail, comradery, teamwork, focus, pride in doing a job well - all things that have helped me in writing and filmmaking. It was good for me, because let's face the facts - I wasn't setting the world on fire in anything. At that point in my life I didn't even know how to strike the match. At least the military life gave me the skills to handle anything that was thrown at me.

Like this time:

Back in '95, I was an electrician on an indie film called Ripe, and it was raining and cold. We'd been working for about 16 hours and my feet hurt, and my arms ached from hauling cable and setting lamps. Just when I thought I couldn't go any further, when I was going to collapse any second, I remembered the times in the Air Force refueling planes, and I thought to myself, "Well, at least no one's shooting at us."

Then I got another soda and went back to work, smiling.

So whatever this is that I write here on this blog, part of it was born on January 6th, 1986.

1 comment:

Random said...

Though I've never been in any sort of armed service, I think the exact same thing when I'm worn out on a crew.