After my first bout with the MEPS, I returned almost immediately to take the DLAB. I'd been told by several people that it was an easy test, and I looked forward to it from that perspective. I was given the luxury of arriving at seven, instead of five-thirty, and after all four testers had checked in we moved towards the testing center.
The only minor snag happened before we got started, when one of the testers fell asleep on the couches and didn't answer to his name being called. Because his name happened to be Charlie Brown, we became convinced that he was a practical joke, until someone woke him up.
The test itself had both verbal and written components, and was probably the single most challenging standardized test I've ever taken. It was very important for me to do well on it, and I came out of the testing center convinced that I had failed. Afterall, I would only get my full choice of languages if I scored 100, and I was certain I'd missed a fair amount.
The man who administered the test was new to the MEPS center, and graded the tests while me and my companions sat on the cloth covered couches and talked about our angst. I found out that Charlie Brown was joining the Army as an interpreter, as long as he did well enough on this test.
Unlike the ASVAB, you have to score at least a 90 on the DLAB in order to qualify for anything. When the test administrator came over to show us our scores, I sat up nervously and peeked at the folder he held out to me. He gestured towards two numbers, and indicated that the first was the number of questions I'd answered correctly, and the second was my actual score. I sat back in relief, amazed. I scored 124, and I thought that the scores didn't go over 100.
After that, I didn't visit the MEPS center again for several months. Part of this was because of another paper scandal; it turns out that I had to get my official transcript from UNCA before I could enlist after all. Whatever pardon I'd received the last time I was down was for that day only. The other reason was personal space. Everything had gone by so fast, it was blurred in my mind. While most people I'd spoken with joined the Navy in that blur, I wanted some extra time to think over my options and talk to my friends.
Another reason was scheduling. I wanted my Aunt and Uncle to come down for my enlistment, but we couldn't seem to find a time that worked for everyone. Eventually, I set the date of November 15th, four days after my eighteenth birthday, and left it at that.
A recruiter new to the office, Tim Gardner, drove me down to Charlotte at a reasonable hour, along with a two other people. One was a quiet young man who was still in High School, and planned to enlist in the Nuclear program. He interested me, and I tried to draw him out of his shyness by discussing the latest gaming news. He was eager to answer my questions, but reticent to pose any of his own.
Our other companion for the ride down was a slightly older man, probably in his mid-twenties, who spent most of the car ride writing down statements for his various infractions of the law. Apparently, speed was very important to him, and he had souped up his old car with a race car engine. He also held the record for the highest speed on a ticket in Buncombe county 114mph in a 55mph zone, if I recall correctly.
I hadn't slept the previous night, spending the evening playing Diablo with my friend Erskin. It was impossible for me not to fall asleep in the car, and the trip went quickly. Tim dropped off the other two applicants at the MEPS center for testing, and then dropped me off at the Ramada. I felt passing strange when I stood in front of the door to my room and listened to the voices inside. Growing up as an only child, sharing living space was not my forte.
I knocked on the door, and introduced myself to the woman who answered it as her roomate. She laughed and showed me in, where I met my actual roomate, a lovely young woman named Melody. She had short blonde hair, which I envied for it's length. I was still planning to cut my long hair.
I sat with Wendy and a few other ladies during dinner. I forwent the baked chicken and the spaghetti with meat-like balls for a plain salad. After that, I went back to my room, took a long luxurious shower, and went to sleep exhausted.
I was woken briefly when Wendy came in. I think she watched TV for a little while, but I tried hard to remain asleep. She was very nervous, though, and I hardly blame her; afterall, the next day she was shipping out for Air Force boot camp.
I was woken solidly, however, at a loud rapping on the door. I got up, threw on a robe, and approached the door. I inspected the man through the peep hole while he addressed me, "Open up, MEPS security!" He was a young black man dressed in civilian clothes. I decided that opening the door was unnecessary. I shook Wendy awake, warned her of the situation, and prepared to go back to sleep. I was disturbed by the phone ringing a minute later, with a very irate woman on the other end, asking me why I wasn't letting security in. Responding that I had been asleep, I once again put on a robe and answered the door.
I never quite figured out what was going on. It turns out that behind that man in civilian clothes was an officer in uniform. I apologized to both of them for not responding sooner, and they apologized to me for disturbing us. Then they left, never entering the room or asking any questions.
Because of my messed up sleeping schedule, I wasn't able to sleep after that. I took a shower and then laid down for the remainder of the small hours of the morning. After the wake up call came, I bid Wendy a good morning and went downstairs for breakfast.
I took a brief shuttle ride to the MEPS, after which I spent most of the morning trying hard to stay awake. I went through a medical inspect with the shippers, which involved us stripping down to our underwear and waiting around in the cold for a height and weight check, and visual inspection. Once again, I endured lots of discussion about the depth of Dr. Cheney's perversity while we waited in the cold.
The urinalysis came as a surprise to me, but it turned out only to be a pregnancy check. Dr. Cheney was in the room only a minute while he did the visual inspection, after which we dressed and were let out into the main waiting area.
I was the first to visit the classifier, who was different from last time. After deciding on CTI-ATF (Cryptological Technician Interpretive-Advanced Technical Field), I answered a security questionaire, and then met a woman in the Operations Administration area, who fingerprinted me, made sure that I understood the terms of my enlistment, and signed countless more official documents.
My mother and Erskin had shown up during this time to witness my enlistment, as I would witness Erskin's only a month later. I didn't have long to talk to them before I was called into a tiny blue room lined with desks. I was briefed by a MEPS staff member, along with four other Army guys who were big, buff, and wore their pants hanging down to their knees. Then, we were led into a room carpeted and wallpapered in red, with flags hanging along the far wall. The staff member adjusted the lights so that they shown on the pedestal in front of the flags.
Along with the other enlistees, I was positioned in a straight line. Visitors were allowed in along the back wall, and then we were called to attention while Leiutenant Read marched up to the pedestal. After a short speech, we all swore or affirmed the oath of enlistment.
Afterwards, Leiutenant Read signed our papers, congratulated all of us, and I drove home with my family. It was only 11:00am (1100), but I felt like I'd been there for days. I slept in the car on the way back, and dreamed of the ocean.
Back to Chapter One.
Return to my Navy page.