Lesson 6: There is such a thing as stupid questions

This is a lesson that you learn on day one of military basic training.  The instructors are trained to put you through one of the most uncomfortable situations of your life.  It is a part of an effort to weed out the members who cannot handle the stresses that accompany military service and lifestyle.  To do that, you are basically not going to get everything right and you are certainly not going to get it right the first time.  And even if you do, from their perspective, you have done it wrong and you are an idiot.  That is the way it works.

This is when and where you start to encounter the questions that are best left unasked.  The recruiters and their colleagues have been all fine and dandy and were willing to give an answer to just about anything.  That is not the case once you get to basic training.  The recruiters absolutely love it when you ask a question because they use it as an indication that you were not paying close enough attention to their instruction.  Or it is an opportunity to remind you that you are too stupid to live.  It is an especially exciting time for them if it was something that they already covered because then it becomes an opportunity for them to openly invite other instructors to come help provide you with more verbal instruction (aka yell at you more).  

This is where two of the other lessons come into play.  Don’t be that guy (asking stupid questions) and know when to shut up.  If you need to ask a question in basic training, you ask one of the designated student leaders.  It is their job to get clarification for you.  Plus, running your question through someone else helps to weed out the stupid questions.  Maybe that person has an answer, or maybe they will let you know that is not a question you want or need to ask.

Fast forward to beyond training, or even beyond military service.  How many times have you heard a question get asked that made you wonder whether there was any actual merit to the theory of natural selection?  A question that was so ridiculous that the only reason it made any sense was the person asking it just wanted someone else to acknowledge their presence or existence.  We all have.  Don’t be that guy (or girl).  Think before you speak.  

If you know, or even think, that a question is going to potentially be stupid, run it by someone else that it might apply to.  Maybe it’s a stupid question, or maybe, it has the potential to be a good question and that person can help you word it better.  The phrase “It can’t hurt to ask,” was clearly developed by someone that never served in any military.  Stupid questions can take you places that you might not be ready or willing to go.  Not only can it hurt to ask, but it will also give the military training instructors great pleasure to watch.


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