The absurdity of bias

Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The head shavers were civilians—a fat fuck and his women. The women had silver-blue permanents; there were two of them and they were awful. So was the fat fuck. It wasn’t enough for them that we had to pay them money for these haircuts that we were ordered to get; they talked shit to us too. They cut a kid’s head so it was bleeding pretty good and he let on that he minded and they said he was a sissy. They wanted to know if he was from San Fran-sissy-co. Then they cut another kid and the blood was running down and they thought it was funny. They didn’t get bored of it. They had special vacuum clippers that sucked the hair up as they cut. The suction pulled the scalp up into the blades; that was how come they drew blood so much. The fat fuck and his women had to talk real loud so they could hear themselves over the sucking sounds. I wished death upon them. Then we got a hundred fucking shots. We got all our Army stuff: uniforms, boots, helmets, shit like that. We took our papers with us everywhere. They signed our papers. This was in-processing. When we weren’t in-processing we sat in an auditorium and they taught us things: left face, right face, the Army song, whatever. When it was time to eat we acted like the food was really bad even though it wasn’t that bad. One kid said, “I’m a spook. That’s counterintelligence.” Another kid said, “I’m an eleven bravo.” That was infantry. But he couldn’t be an 11B because all the 11Bs went through at Fort Benning. Now we knew he was a liar. The group I came in with was B1, as in bravo one. That night another group came in, B2. We thought the B2s were decadent children. We said, “These bravo twos are ate-the-fuck-up.” We said, “They sure are.” The B2s thought we were weird losers. The mutual enmity between B1s and B2s lasted three days; then we were redistributed at random into three platoons called Alpha Company, and no one could remember who anyone was. The universal baldness made it difficult to recognize people. They packed us into cattle cars and we rode up the hill to boot camp.