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cadet blogs

Communications Breakdown

(The Cadet Experience) Permanent link   All Posts
 Jessie Lukasik I knew it was coming – I could tell from reading my own letters home to friends and family, counting the number of strange, new acronyms I toss around, listening to my shipmates and my quirky punch lines, reviewing my daily routine in my head – I knew what to expect when I went home on Thanksgiving leave. I knew it… but I still wasn’t prepared for what awaited me back in the civilian world: a communication breakdown of epic proportions.

You develop an entirely new language here at the Academy, jargon that has no point or purpose in the civilian world. This is the natural course of things with any job I suppose. Still, it’s utterly bizarre to go home, swap stories with your friends off in other colleges, and realize that you have to define every other word. Take a simple sentence you might use to describe a morning mishap:

“My clocks for morning formation were awful today, so the guidon told me I’d be doing 10s on the bulkhead by the OOD desk until he secured me.”

This makes perfect sense to a cadet – but such stories left my friends and family with great, gaping, “Huh?” looks on their faces. Coming home, I had to quite literally relearn normal speech. All the terms that had become a part of my daily life had to be obliterated temporarily for courtesy to those around me.

Additionally, just a semester of 4/c year completely warps your sense of humor. Things that the “normal world” doesn’t find all that funny – and really, honestly, shouldn’t be all that funny – suddenly have you bubbling with hilarity. How do you explain to the world back home how bizarrely amusing it is to bus to class in formation and be giggling because your bus is about to “run over” upper class blocking the path of your section? The idea that these poor pedestrians are about to get “hit by a bus” – but a bus of people – is completely ridiculous. But when you’re there, when you’re in a good mood, it can be really, really funny…

Maybe that’s how we get across the communication barrier going from the military to civilian world and back – take everything with a grain of salt. Maybe the military humor and military language may not be all that interesting to the guys back home – but I think anyone can appreciate someone with the ability to laugh at themselves. And 4/c life does leave ample opportunity for that!

More about Jessie.