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Week 18: Cadets, Start Your Engines

Police car driving on the track

2005-10-23

Well, still no word on my detachment posting. It's getting a little nerve racking as I will need to report to somewhere in a foreign province in approximately seven weeks! The waiting continues, but at least I have plenty of things to keep myself occupied or distracted, although lately the pace has slowed ever so slightly. I figure it's one of two things: either the demands are less or we've just gotten so accustomed to running at full throttle on empty! Nonetheless, every week brings about new and “interesting” events.

The new and “interesting” for this week began with our first experience at wearing our high browns. Although they look great and sound impressive, they're really not operationally efficient. Besides the fact that you can hear me coming, they're slippy and don't permit for free range movement. Personally, the boots fit well; my issue is with the pants. These breeches are so tight around the knees that I can barely bend them, which means that sitting down gets quite complicated. It's not like I can put my feet just anywhere as the gazillion coats of polish I've put on them are just looking for any excuse to flake, crack or get scuffed.

Have I mentioned the time factor involved in changing (sometimes we need to change six or seven times throughout the day)? This doesn't include any wardrobe malfunctions, something I encountered on this first day of wearing high browns. In Drill class (yes Drill, of all places), I stepped a little too close to my own boot, managed to catch a spur strap, took a step with the other foot and proceeded to rip my spur right off. It wasn't until I heard the spur drop to the floor - at which point my heart dropped into my stomach - that I realized what had happened. I hastened to pick it up all the while racking my brain for a solution to my problem. Luckily, before I had much chance to dart around like a monkey on caffeine pills, the Drill facilitator told me to put it in my pocket and as I ran past him to re-join the rest of the troop he said: “You're not supposed to be kicking yourself with the spurs, Cadet!” I could tell he was having a good laugh at my expense.

Well the fun continued after Drill when I removed the truant spur with the respective straps from my pocket. Not only had the spur straps left a mess of polish in my pocket, but one of them was actually torn! So off I went to leather craft to have it replaced. Of course the replacement was not polished so I spent the rest of the day (including the S/M’s Parade) walking around in deep mahogany boots with one peanut butter-coloured strap. (I was a walking LA waiting to happen - luckily no one noticed!) Following this wardrobe snafu I took great comfort in the fact that the following days would be spent in fatigues and running shoes.

The new and exciting continued toward the middle of the week with our trip out to the PDU advanced driving track (hence the fatigues and runners). This two-day stint was a lot of fun and consisted of driving a track circuit (in a limited time and without losing control of the vehicle), a skills obstacle course involving parking and backing up (also controlled and in a certain time), and finally object avoidance (my personal favourite). All of these included manoeuvring around orange cones, and the most important thing after time was not to touch the cones! And that's what got me! Those cones just kept jumping out at me! In my countless practise runs, I hit at least one cone every time! (But I must say that these runs were all a lot of fun - smoking, squealing tires, highspeed pursuits, and driving around on three wheels!) Fortunately for me, I did really well on my test runs and no cones bit the dust! Throughout this adventure I realized that these track cars are the perfect representation of cadets: the cars are practically run into the ground with each run they take, clicking and creaking with the tires balding at exponential rates, just begging to be put out of their misery. But every time you take them back to the start line they still manage to get the job done.