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Week 2: The First Steps

“Armour and pistols and sirens, oh my!”

Cadet band on the Parade Square


This week was one with many firsts. In Firearms, we were given the tour, given the list of things not to do with the pistol (of course, these outnumbered what is allowed by about 10:1), given the firearms, and then told: "Here are six rounds and a target so that you can all get the ‘When do we actually get to shoot at stuff' look off of your faces." I must admit that I was quite pleased with myself as I managed to hit the paper every time - I even hit the actual target several times! Since I’ve never handled a gun before, I consider this to be an accomplishment. I will likely enjoy Firearms. Although it is serious business, the facilitators are easy-going and have a great sense of humour.

Another set of facilitators with a good sense of humour are the driving instructors. By the time PDU (Police Driving Unit) came around on Tuesday, I already had half a day of experience wearing the uniform. The previous day I managed to get myself ready (putting on the get-up and cementing the hair) with less than 15 minutes’ notice. For driving the next morning, I needed to add the body armour and the duty belt. I went on the assumption that this would be an easy thing to accomplish, but alas it was not. At least I was not the only one (most of the other girls also had some trouble with the coordination of the vest and belt). Prior to this experience I took breathing and sitting comfortably for granted. All in all, I consider these little adventures and hiccups to be somewhat frustrating at times but once you become accustomed, it's all fun and games!

The fun came to a crashing halt on Wednesday in Drill class. I was already a little shocked after the dorm lecture from the previous week. You can probably imagine my reaction after the first session of marching (better yet, our attempt at marching) in the arena. It's the type of experience that requires complete focus and concentration but for some reason you cannot seem to muster up enough. The wheels in your brain are turning at a million miles per second because it is trying to coax the rest of you to stand still (it's likely also in overdrive due to the concussion-inducing forge caps we are required to wear, but that's beside the point). To clarify: there is to be no shifting or movement of any kind, no swatting mosquitos, no smiling and no fainting. The only exceptions are breathing and blinking, but these need to be kept to an absolute minimum, and even then I feel I need to ask someone for permission.

Although highly intense, this experience went fairly well (as a troop we only had to do 30 push-ups). Everything was fine up until the inspection... I'm sure you can guess what happened. That's right, I received my first learning assistance (LA), which I suppose is something similar to detention or extra duties. Note to self: make sure no hair is anywhere near the collar. I guess I'll have to up the daily hairspray dosages from a quarter to a third of a bottle in order to tame those three little wisps!

Lucky for me, I am not subjected to inspection as frequently as my other troopmates. From what I understand the others get most of their LAs at morning parade, which I get to miss on the account of band. Although band duty is dismissed by many cadets as being too much work and requiring too much commitment, I certainly prefer it over some of the other duties. (Everyone in the troop is responsible for at least one extra duty. Some of these include: the right marker, treasurer, assignment coordinator, grad committee, driving coordinator, etc.)

The week ended with the beginning of the Sunset Ceremonies. Our troop was made responsible for set-up and tear-down. During this time, I lent a hand in raising the flags around the Cenotaph. It was an interesting learning experience as I discovered that each Division (and certain sections of the RCMP) has its own flag and they each need to be raised in a certain order. As a result, we ended up switching a number of flags before we had it set up properly. Just another reminder not to dwell on the small stuff: just do it!