Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sentry Duty

Like you, I spend a considerable amount of time pondering the important questions in life, like "stripe in or out?" on debit card machines.  Or, when confronted by a bear or mountain lion, experts say you're supposed to make yourself look larger.  So would eating a bag of chips or a Twinkie at that moment assist in any way?

Another thing I've always wondered is why the sentries in old war movies are such dimwitted oafs.  They never hear the commandos approaching and only figure out what’s going on when the bayonet is piercing their ribcage.  What is wrong with those people? 

Well, now I know.  They were guarding doors, their feet were killing them (metaphorically), and they were bored out of their minds. 

I learned this the other night during my third shift at a local sports facility.  I am a part-time usher, meaning I ush for extra money from time to time.

It was my first time at an entrance, taking people's tickets.  For someone who is trained to a high degree in the art of pointing out where seats are (ushing), this was high excitement.  For about twenty minutes.  Then it got boring.

After the game started I had absolutely nothing to do and, being at an isolated door, I had no comrades with whom to converse.  I stood alone.  Never before had so much weight been pressed upon toes so few.  These would be my finest few hours.

I began pacing from the outer door to the inner concourse - back and forth.  Back and forth.  Thirteen paces, turn crisply on the heel like a good sentry, thirteen more paces back to the entrance.  Peer out door for more patrons approaching; see none, pace back again.  Thirteen.  Did I mention it was thirteen paces?  Precisely thirteen.  Watch out for the small crack in the concrete at pace nine. 

My shoes seemingly disappeared and the concrete jarred directly onto the weary bones of my sore feet.  My shoulder chafed where my pretend rifle cut into it.

I had been given a radio, so I dreamed up fictitious emergency calls.

"Breach on level four!  Breach on level four!"  "Attention all personnel!  Code three!  AAARGH!"  “Bogies at two o’clock high!”  It would have been great to do, but I worried they would triangulate onto my position so I kept quiet.

My feet still ached.  No place to sit down.  Nothing to read or watch.  No one to chat with.  No video games on my ticket scanner thing - I checked.

I stood at the door, sentinel-like, secretly hoping that a group of saboteurs were silently approaching, perchance to eliminate me and my sore feet so they could get into the facility and steal the secret documents, kidnap the general's hot daughter, sabotage the nuclear plant, and make their daring escape.

I knew I didn't stand a chance against these well-trained operators.  They had rehearsed this scenario hundreds of times, no doubt.  Me?  I was raw meat.  Bored, alone, daydreaming about hot foot baths and cold beer and remote controls.  Just like in the movies. 

I waited for the whistle of their crossbow shots or the sudden tightening in my throat as the garrote encircled my neck.  I anticipated the "Phhhtt! Phhhtt!" of the silenced bullets.  I promised myself I would put up a good fight against the enemy, or at least give off a decent warning gurgle.

In the end, nobody attacked.  Nobody even tried to sneak past me without a ticket.  My feet just ached.  I could hear varicose veins popping out all over my lower extremities. The unseen hockey game continued.  We won, I think.  God my feet hurt.

So if you're wondering why those guards were so pathetic and easy to kill - now you know.  Those weren’t fictitious movies you watched. 

They were documentaries.

Tickets please.

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