The 10% Rule

It’s funny where life takes you.

Forty three years ago I received my draft notice and at that time  felt that it was the end of the world. My mother, certain that I would be killed in Vietnam, offered me a “last supper” of anything I wanted.

I chose tortillas and lamb chops.

And lobster, if I recall.  With lots of butter.

Come to think of it at least by Hollywood movies, that does sound like something a condemned man would pick for a last meal.

That night I couldn’t sleep and remembered getting sick. Whether it was from my eclectic culinary decision or the fear of the unknown, I cannot say – probably a little bit of both.

But a few hours later (at 03:00) – see how the Army affected me? – that’s 3AM for you civilians) – my father and I got up to go to the main post office downtown  to meet the bus at 04:00  that would take me to the Oakland induction station.

I remember to this day the draft protestors in the darkness – mobbed around the bus, all yelling and telling us we didn’t have to go. But to a man, we went.

Single file into the bus.

During the ride to Oakland through the predawn darkness not one word was spoken, each man to his own thoughts.

For the most part, I have funny memories of Oakland. During my previous visit I, along with about 100 others whom our friends and neighbors chose,  were marching around in our underwear all day getting poked and prodded.

There was the old joke about the reaction of some to the “spread your cheeks” order the Dr. gave us.

If you can’t figure out how some reacted, well, I’ll leave it at that.

While there we discovered that a few individuals could charitably be called “screw ups” and had trouble with the simplest commands.

Anyway, the bus pulled in and we waited to see where we would be assigned. Everyone thinks that the Army was the only destination, but during the height of Vietnam men would count off by 2’s.

Half for the Army; half for the Marines.

That’s when a Marine Lieutenant told us about the 10% Rule.

Never heard of it?

In any given population sample, in any endeavor, 10% of the people will fark it up for the other 90%. And in my sociological observations in the intervening 43 years, it seems to hold true.

I mention this because of the myriad of speedbumps I now have to navigate daily on the street at my house. It’s like an obstacle course.

All because that 10% had to drive like morons.

Anyway, I have come view my Army service as a highlight of my life. Almost stayed in, and some days I wish I had served my 20.

Miss the camaraderie to this day.

You never know where life will take you.


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6 responses to “The 10% Rule

  1. Bill, you are a survivor! And you have my respect too 🙂

  2. NaCly Dog

    Thanks for the story. That bracing entry into a new culture is one of many experiences that vets share.

    Oakland has only gotten worse. It’s sad all the good people there are swamped out by the expanding 10%.

    • Bill Brandt

      The Oakland Hills are beautiful with real estate prices to match, but downtown Oakland is pretty …..gritty.

  3. virgil xenophon

    When my Father got out of OCS school in 43 half the class went to the 36th Texas Div and straight into the meat-grinder of the North African, Sicily, Italian and French campaigns. The other half stayed Stateside to form up the 42nd Rainbow Div for the next year and didn’t get to the ETO until fall of 44. My Father was one of those who went to the 42nd and stayed. Know how they picked who went and who didn’t? By qualifications and skills? Naw. Real simple. By alphabet. Every other man…..the guys on each side of Dad at Mail Call (which was done by alphabet) went to the meatgrinder with the 36th (which had 400% officer cas) Nothing but Fate. John J. Fate…

    • Bill Brandt

      Virgil – in my advanced training class at Ft Bliss – missile battery radar operator – 30 of the 35 were sent to Korea. I was one of the 5 left in bureaucratic limbo – no assignment and we were just….there.

      These assignments were made by the alphabet – all the E’s to Z’s for Korea.

      Three of us made visits to this civilian bureaucrat who was making the assignments. On the 3rd visit in as many days, he said “don’t bug me anymore – I’m sending you 3 to Germany”

      Which was considered a plum assignment.

      The other 2 ended up staying in El Paso emptying ash trays and showing educational movies for 2-3 years.

      When I got over there I was surprised that the overwhelming number of GIs “pissed and moaned” about their “bad luck” at being in Germany. Over my tour I used all my leave traveling.

      But that’s another story 🙂

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