Years ago, a gunner in my platoon addressed us from the front of the formation, lecturing us on some mundane task which we’d need to complete after work. He told us that it would be in our best interest. He told us we would regret neglecting this task. Then, slowly, a self-satisfied smile played across his face, and after preparing us by saying he was bringing out one of the only big words he knew, he told us, “It would be whose of you to get this done.”
I physically recoiled. He smirked.
I understood that he meant “it would behoove you,” a phrase non-commissioned officers throw around like a dagger in a doily all the time, but my body seemed to be literally rejecting the mangled parody of language he had cobbled together in an attempt to parrot his colleagues. The platoon leader, standing at the back of the formation, must have noticed my turmoil because he asked, only half joking, “Dill, are you okay?” I lied and told him I was fine, even though I wanted to call for a medic or a court martial or some kind of justice, for god’s sake.
But I was fine. Just as importantly, I understood what he meant.
That gunner died a year or so later, victim to a triple-stacked anti-tank mine in Iraq.
I tell this anecdote not to point out what an uneducated rube he was but to point out what poor priorities I had. This was a man who had sworn to my family that he would keep me safe and had selflessly passed on any knowledge he had to me and the rest of the platoon. I may, to put it mildly, not see eye-to-eye with the military anymore, but to nitpick a man’s admittedly bizarre but still completely intelligible pronunciation in the face of literal self-sacrifice seems rather crass.
I hope to make this blog a chronicle of my attempts to avoid searching for errors and instead search for why those interesting oddities exist. An effort toward description and explanation rather than prescription and judgment. Embracing the way things are.
Please join me, won’t you?