If you watched my first video, you will remember I very briefly mentioned how sometimes we Army folk like to play new-guy tricks. The list is never-ending and everyone has a favorite. I am partial to the exhaust sample myself, and I will explain why at the bottom
There are two types of people that play new guy tricks. There is the type that is simply trying to assimilate the new guy, almost like a right of passage or an ice-breaker. This kind is harmless fun, and in the end it can actually help the new guy integrate, so long as it is not taken too far.
The other is mean spirited and vile. The kind of person who does it in a mean spirited way plays the tricks because they need some sort of self-validation, and by demeaning others, they get this validation. The challenge is to know which one is going on and to avoid the mean spirited one. I say this because if someone tries to play a new guy trick on you but it is harmless, there is nothing wrong with being tricked or playing along. But if it is mean spirited, it will hurt you. But it will also quickly tell you who is not to be trusted and should be gotten rid of.
When I was a cadet, I had cadet troop leader training at Fort Hood with an Engineer Company. I was paired with an overly ambitious cadet who was very, very eager to please. Now, I am prior service, so I had all the new guy tricks played on me already. But he was not.
So when we were doing a PMCS with one of the squad leaders, he said the truck was due for an exhaust sample. He handed me a very large pickle jar and asked me to collect some of the exhaust from the tailpipe while he revved the engine. I immediately called him on his bullshit and handed it back. The other cadet not only believed him, but yanked it out of his hands and started walking to the tailpipe.
I swear I told him he was playing with us. But he did not believe me. So I just let it happen.
We take the sample to the Motor SGT, who opens the jar, takes a sniff, and says, "You had better take this to the XO, this is off"
We took it to the XO, who did the same thing and said, "It smells like we have a blown engine."
He walked with us into the Commander's office, who also smelled it and looked panicked. "We have to let the Battalion XO know now! But I can't leave! Cadets, can you take it?"
My battle buddy was so excited. I told him that he was on his own on this one.
So he walked to Battalion, but I stayed at the Company. The Commander asked why I did not go, and I told her that I knew that we were being led on a wild goose chase. My battle came back around looking dejected.
"The XO said that the sample expired and I have to go get a new one"
So the Commander said, "You had better go now!" And he did.
Hilarity ensued when he got back. He was mad, but the next day he had gotten over it and calmed down a little. Hell, he turned into a cool guy to be around. I guess it taught him not to over do it or take the Army too seriously. No more new guy tricks were played after that, but he did get to take the pickle jar home with him. And it was signed by everyone in the motor-pool.