Lesson Learned: Patience –Nick

Toward the end of high school I decided I wanted to be a Police Officer. I wanted that sense of duty to my local community, to help those in need, and protect the good from the bad. I did some research and determined that the only way to become a police officer in Central Wisconsin was to go to the local technical college for police science. I was on the path of getting enrolled, until a military recruiter came along.

The first recruiter that came knocking on my door was for the Marines. The Marine recruiter opened my eyes and made me realize that the military was exactly what I was looking for. Service above all else, helping those in need, and protecting our great nation. The sales pitched worked, because from there on out I was looking at joining the military.

Looking at the military made the Technical College look second rate. If I did the two-year program at the tech, I would have graduated at 20. In the state of Wisconsin you can’t carry a side arm “pistol” until you’re over the age of 21. So that would have meant I couldn’t get into a police department, so I would have had to work as a mall cop. Even worse, I would of had to work at the mall cop job for a long time to pay off the student loans. Also, I would have to be there for even longer to build enough experience to even be hirable by a department.

I talked with the Marine recruiter over the next couple weeks about how much military service would benefit me in the future. During that time I was also looking at the other services and ended up in the Air Force recruiting office. The Air Force recruiter felt very honest and straightforward. He guaranteed me that I would get a Military Police job if I went Air Force.

Eight months later after Basic Training and the Police Academy, I was at my first duty station. My job there was to guard a nuclear arsenal. I was a little angry because I wasn’t doing anything I was told I would be doing. However, over time I became accustom to the security job.  The job was pretty simple; staying vigilant was all the job required. Through out my time stationed there, I learned it was hard to “stay vigilant” — 14 hours of just sitting in one spot, 14 hours of manning a checkpoint, just to go home, come back and do it again. Fourteen hours of the purest, most insane, boredom I could ever imagine.

There were days where I would just sit and watch myself chew gum for 6 hours straight in a reflection. Days where I would count the amount of chews it would take before that gum would break apart. Days of staring of into blank space, not aware of what time it was, nor caring. I experienced boredom that’s beyond even my own comprehension. A boredom that prison inmates doing time must be able to relate to. That’s what my job became. I came to work to do time.

After a year and a half at that assignment, I was shipped over to Korea to do base security. The one thing I took away from doing nuclear security was patience. I now have developed a new sense of patience that has benefited me from that assignment on. In Korea I would listen to the other MPs talk about how boring 8-hours shift were, doing numerous things like patrolling the perimeter, building checks, and law enforcement. I laugh because of their perception of what is “boring.”

Even now in college, I listen to other students and think about how I too would complain about 3 hours of class, having to drive 20 minutes each way to school, and committing to hours of study, thinking that all this is too much. I would be the same as them, if it weren’t for the military. Now waiting in line, waiting for an answer, waiting thru traffic, none of these things bother me like they used too. I feel that this is a huge benefit to me because I don’t experience frustration like I would when I was younger, frustration that would cloud my judgment. Now, I can sit down and give something my undivided “vigilant” attention unlike I could before the military. Whenever I think I’m bored now, I just think back to a part of my military service and remind myself, “I know the true meaning of boredom.”

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