Unfortunately, in 1987 I had to recruit; in Argentina, my native country, conscription was not abolished until 1994. A couple of days before Christmas, along with three other soldiers, a non-commissioned officer and an officer, we were on duty in the weekend home of the president, Alfonsín at the time. We had to stay up all night, sitting in a room as backup in case of an emergency (!?)
In the calm of the night, the young officer who was on duty asked us, one by one, including the non-commissioned officer (a guy with a huge inferiority complex and a very bad temper) the typical question: What would you do if you won the Christmas jackpot?
From the innocence of our eighteen years of age, my companions and I regretted losing those fourteen months of our lives. Today, with half my life behind me, I realize that that had been nothing more than one of the countless stupidities and arbitrariness that this society would force us to go through. Now I don't see much difference between military service, school, neighborhood or family, I have received worse abuse from teachers, neighbors, friends and relatives than I have received from sergeants and captains, violence is spontaneous, natural, explicit, despotism is, most of the time, subliminal, even innocent. People tolerate these abuses because they don't dare to find out to what extent they really depend on all that.
With the same confidence with which my younger self added another “life of luxury” to the wishes of the others, I know exactly what I'd say to the officer if I could go back to that time in my life: “I'd buy a house in a quiet place, away from the cities, and refrain from splurging.”
©2007 - Walter Alejandro Iglesias
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