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The day was over and I lay in my rack wide-awake wishing I were in my own bed at home. As I recalled the events of the day, I began to fully comprehend the magnitude of my decision to join the Navy. I was about to spend my first night in the Navy’s boot camp.
I thought of the shower I had experienced earlier. It was my first experience of a mass community shower. The shower was an extra large yellow tiled stall with 12 chrome showerheads. Six on each sidewall evenly spaced apart. Showering two girls to a head, orders to hurry were being barked from the female RDC’s monitoring us. RDC’s are Recruit Division Commanders; they are in charge of our boot camp learning experience. The next set of girls waited nervously just outside the stall for their turn. The shower experience was definitely something I was going to have to get use to.
I lay in the top rack of my bunk, feeling sad and a little silly. I missed my family and friends and I felt silly for feeling so emotional and sad. I was surprised at how sad I was feeling and thought maybe I was being a baby. I turned my head to survey my surroundings and I took notice of the girl in the top bed of the bunk next to me. She was lying on her stomach resting on her elbows and crying as she wrote, probably a letter to someone she missed from home. I could hear her soft faint sobs. I could see by the expression on her face that she was fighting back her urge to cry out loud. I looked around the rest of the room and soon got the impression that this girl and I were not the only ones who were feeling blue. I was cold and tired and I knew I should get some sleep so I curled up into a ball and fell asleep.
I don’t recall actually falling asleep. I just remember that I was awakened by a series of loud crashes. The crashes were followed by voices piercing into the darkness. I sat up and without any thought to it I jumped off the bed, not remembering I was on the top rack, and landed surprisingly on my feet.
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Just then, the two men began yelling and screaming again. Again, the trashcans were being thrown down the deck as if it were a bowling alley lane. The sounds of the trashcans tumbling end over end were accompanied by boisterous and powerful voices. I couldn’t believe the adrenal rush I was having. I scurried to the foot of the bed and stood at attention as I was shown earlier. Standing as still as possible making sure not to move, I stood with my arms at my sides and my hands balled into fists with my thumbs digging into the sides of my thighs. I could hear and feel my heart pounding in my chest. It was beating so fast, it made it hard for me to catch my breath. I thought for sure I was going to faint. I stood there trying to catch my breath. My chest burning and my throat dry, I felt like I had just finished running a 100m dash. I began to doubt whether I would be able to do this.
I knew that this was just the beginning of how the next nine weeks were going to be like. The idea of being awakened every morning in the pre-dawn hours by two men throwing trashcans on the hard tiled floor, was not something I was looking for forward too. I thought for sure there would be no way my nerves would be able to handle such a transition, from such a peaceful sleeping state to a mind numbingly loud one, but I knew that it was necessary in order to proceed with and succeed in this part of my life. I also knew that my life was to never be the same and I believed for the better.