Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Hey All,   We all have to get along with others in this life.  Some people make this a chore and a difficult relationship to survive.  At times these interactions are forced upon you and you have no choice but ride them out.
     Motorpool, Korea 1983.  I called him Harvey because he called me George.  Neither is Militarily correct or our proper given names, but we both were E5/SGT and it became a accepted and even expected titles between us. It may be, that the position of Motor SGT went to his head.......... his ego to big to fit under his hat. Or, perhaps he just wanted everybody to be as happy as he was.
     I had been assigned to this position for 2 years now and he was the 4th  man assigned to this position since I had arrived in Korea.  It didn't take long for the enlisted in the motorpool to realize what they were up against.  He would overload mechanics and personnel with trivial things to make the day harder and longer and when he felt he had gotten under your skin he would say "ping", and smile and chuckle. He made it his mission to make the lives of those  under his command  as hard as he could, with whatever he could come up with. I was not immune to this standard.  Even though we were the same pay grade, he had authority of position, so I also had to follow his orders and endure his harassment, the same as the rest.
      Our first field training exercise together was in the humid days of Korean mid-summer.  We were camped in rice fields that were left unplanted.  After a few days of this mosquito infested sauna,  the CO and 1ST SGT announced that there was a reservoir about a mile from our site and everybody would get a chance to cool off a little.  A little relief from the heat and a definite morale booster.  Harvey decided that motorpool personnel would not be permitted to partake in this event..........he was taking in more territory than his rank and position allowed.  He informed the 1ST SGT of his decision.   Well, Top, as his position is referred to in the Army, wasn't giving Harvey the option.  Top had noticed  Harveys' methods of leadership by this time and informed him that all personnel can go if they individually want to.  Harvey was looking to me as his ally ........... he wanted me to talk to the men, as I had more influence with them than he did, and convince them not to go.  Well, that just wasn't going to happen.  I told Harvey of this and he asked me to side him and not go myself......I refused.  Hell hath no fury as a bully denied.   He through a fit that would make a 2 year old proud.  He went out of our tent and started screaming at Top. In front of the motorpool and other people present he just went off.   He raged on  "This isn't a Boy Scout camping trip!  We're soldiers and they need to tough it out!  This is F******* Bullshit!  You're treating them like children, This is the Army, they need to be tough!"   Top walked calmly up to Harvey and tried to calm him down.  Harvey continued yelling in Tops face, eventually settling down enough to take Tops suggestion of going into the motorpool tent and get a hold of himself.
     All of us enlisted who watched this thought that Harvey had lost his mind.  Insubordination and disrespect to senior NCO was not to be taken lightly.  Top let Harvey go with a warning.......he was fortunate that Top was the type of man he was, or we would have had a new Motor SGT in a heartbeat.
     One of Harveys' great ideas was to require everyone to work late to 9 pm, if it was their Birthday. You "earned" this extra duty simply because it was your birthday. This made sure you wouldn't have time to get cleaned up and celebrate properly with your friends after your time was served. Only the birthday boy and Harvey stayed.  He would stay  with them and give them odd jobs and cleaning detail in the motorpool.  These were not things that were of high priority or easily noticed. After you were notified by him that you were working late, he got a big smile on his face and said "ping!"  Which became his favorite word and he used it often.  Harvey became disliked by just about  by everyone who ever worked for him.............which was easy to predict and understand.
      Harvey decided that making the men work late on their birthdays wasn't enough.  So, he approached me one evening after everyone had left for the day and decided I was going to help him harass the men.   One man a week, would work on Friday night to 9 pm and I was going to assign them work and make sure it was completed.  I sat in my chair looking up at him as he stood above me, describing  with delight how this was going to happen.  I asked him, "how do you think that this is going to be helpful to motorpool operations and the morale of these men that you're  hell bent on pissing off?   They are doing a good job during the day.  Why make them work a Friday night for no good reason?   This is punishment for good behavior and their performance overall will ultimately suffer."    I might as well have talked to the commode.  He informed me that this wasn't  a discussion or a choice.......... I was going to do it.  The idea occurred to me that he was trying to make me as unpopular an NCO as he was.  I thought for just a second and said "no".  He asked "what do you mean,  no?"  I said, " if you think that I'm going to help you give these guys a hard time, think again. I said no"  "don't you tell me no" he replied.  "I just did", I said with a smile.   I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by his reaction.  He kicked a steel trash can that flew up and shattered the florescent tubes in the light fixture.  I ducked my head down toward the floor to prevent glass from getting in my eyes.  When I looked up he grabbed me by the throat and started choking me, yelling that I would do as I was told.  I didn't move.  I just looked up at him as he continued choking me and my face got red, I couldn't hold out much longer...........then I smiled up at him.  He got it almost immediately.  I had him for assault of  an NCO and his career path was now in question.  All that was need was a phone call to the MP station and we would have a party complete with handcuffs.  He released his hold on my throat and I was able to squeak out,  "Ping!"  He left the room without looking back or making a comment.
       I don't know that I'll ever understand why anyone would go out of their way to hurt someone or make another  life difficult.  Where's  the gain or benefit?  A happy soldier is a hard working one.  Maybe I should have filed a complaint against Harvey, but, I thought that the idea that I could have, but didn't, might change the way he treated others.  You know, show a little grace and mercy.  Get a inkling of understanding how the other guy feels.  It didn't work.  He was on good behavior for about a month and then was his same old lovable self again.  The brainstorm of Friday night work detail was scrapped though.
      This won't be the only tale about Harvey.  A guy that operates like he did usually leaves a wake of unhappiness behind him.  Unfortunately for him........he was caught in the wake of his own making.  He won't  find a place in his life when things will be okay or he would be happy.  His happiness was dependent on the unhappiness of long as there is anyone around him happy, at peace or content........he will never rest and enjoy his life.  People around him didn't have to stay and could find peace at a distance...................but he won't ever be able to get far enough away from what's inside his heart.  
        Until the next time......................God Bless.

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