One of the most interesting things about human nature is how we associate a person’s “things” with the person’s identity. One of the most fascinating things about the Army was how they stripped away all of our identifying markers when we joined. I remember being on the bus, going to the Reception Station (the place where they gather us all together before going on to Basic Training) and seeing all the usual groups of guys that were there (they were all guys; this was long before females were allowed to join the Infantry).
There were guys there in their Western wear– boots and jeans and cowboy hats; there were the guys who had been the obvious sports heroes from their respective schools; there were the punkish outcasts and the nerdy guys and so on. You can tell by the clothes of course, but also the haircuts, the mannerisms, the way of walking, the posture, the slouches or movement of their feet…
All that was quickly stripped away. Haircuts, clothing, posture, all were quickly stamp-milled into a uniform manner of walking, talking, standing, and haircuts. You have to really see the person for who they are, not the things they hang on themselves like Christmas tree ornaments to artificially define themselves.
But in the Reserve and National Guard, you spend most of your time around civilians, so a bit of that mindset creeps back in. It is easy to identify someone by their mannerisms and accoutrements; sometimes a person does something really different and you don’t recognize them. And you have to re-learn that lesson all over again.
The Battalion is going to Europe for Annual Training, and Cecelia Glass had her hair dyed all wild colors. The base of it was black, to resemble charcoal wood, because she dressed up in the “Sexy Dumpster Fire” costume for Halloween. She chopped off the rest of it –the red, the yellow, the orange– and kept the black, then realized she could have just blackened the whole thing and it would have been fine since black hair is “natural coloration”. Now she has the short haircut and a grumpy outlook.