Get Your Hands Out Of Your Pockets…Please…
In my last job I was an instructor, and as a sideline to that job we were also charged with going out on the station and ensuring the standards of the trainees as they marched about.
You know, they were all in step, all dressed the same, shoes shiny, trousers pressed that sort of thing…
And every morning we used to wait on the corner of two of the roads, as what we called “The Snake” came by us. The Snake was the name for the long column of trainees that had formed up at the top of the station to march from the accommodation blocks to the working classroom areas. It was a good opportunity to show a presence on the streets, and to catch any of them who obviously weren’t doing as they should…
Ok, ok, it’s not something I am proud of – but it was part of the job and we did it to the best that we could. In reality it was a bit of a game. They (the trainees) would try to avoid getting caught for not polishing shoes – and I would try and make it a bit of a laugh if I did catch a course doing something it wasn’t supposed too…say one of the course wasn’t dressed the same as the rest (a heinous crime, I know) I’d stop the course and do the lines from Sesame Street “One of these Trainees is not dressed like the others…” Or else I would give some friendly encouragement to make them march smarter from the side of the street.
Yeah. It was a rubbish job. But, necessary, I guess. Keeping the standards up is essential. As I say I tried to do it in a way that was not in any way bullying – and as entertaining as possible as, to be honest it was bloody boring.
So, this one day we were waiting on the corner and The Snake was approaching along the road. On the opposite corner of the junction was a little car park used by people – permanent staff or people from ‘the real airforce’ back for further training courses at the Defence School of Photography, DSoP, also based at Cosford.
And this morning a Land Rover pulled up and a couple of guys in combats jumped out of the back. The the driver got out and an Army Captain got out of the passenger seat. After a moment or two the realisation dawned on the three of us instructors standing there that they were SAS. Quite often we would get the odd member of the special forces through to do all manner of special courses at Cosford – and we can only assume that they were visiting DSoP for some special reason.
Anyway, they just stood there having a chat, and three of them stood with their hands in their pockets.
My colleague noticed this and tutted and said that it was terrible – they should know better, that sort of thing. The other of the three of us agreed.
I stood aghast. “Well…” I said. “Are you going to tell them then?”
The other two looked equally aghast. “No way!” said one, and “I’m not going to” said the other.
“Oh for goodness sake,” said I. “They are just a couple of guys.” I shock my head at the two of the RAF instructors – one of which was a mountain of a man at over 6’7″ tall. Ex-rugby player, and all round scary bear.
I tutted at them again and walked across the road. Gulping.
“Excuse me, fellas.” I said as I got close to the four of them. “I know who you are; that is clear from your berets and cap badges. And so will all those trainees who are marching down the road towards us.” I said pointing at the approaching Snake. “I know normal rules don’t really apply to you but, could you please take your hands out of your pockets, ‘cos if they see you, it’s gonna be a right bugger trying to tell them off if they have their hands in their pockets in the future and they see we haven’t asked you to do the same.”
At once, in a shot, the SAS troopers hands shot out of their pockets. The Captain (who was one of them) returned my salute and said “Corporal, I am really sorry. You are totally right. It’s easy to forget we are at a general training unit. I am sorry, it won’t happen again.”
I muttered something like “It’s ok, Sir, I sort of just had to ask you. It’s sort of my job.” I saluted him again and turned and walked away with the other two instructors looking at me with the widest eyes I have ever seen…and me with my heart pounding faster than it ever has!