Friday, April 25, 2008

Oh My God It BURNS!!

stinging of the eyes
brutal, everlasting pain
smashed sand in the eyes

I won the Darwin Award today.

At the base where I am stationed we have something lovingly referred to as "ASF" or "Auxiliary Security Force". This unique program allows all sorts of people to be trained as security guards for the base. Trained is the weakest and most polite word I can use to describe what happened to me today.

If you are wondering, the Darwin Award is given to those members of a population of living beings that fail to meet basic survival requirements, and through sheer acts of stupidity, manage to make themselves extinct (thus evolution. thus Darwin). I volunteered for this program, keep this in mind as I describe today's events.

It began with a written test, something I was completely unprepared for, taking only a courtesy glance at the study material ten minutes before it started. Whatever, it was all pretty much common sense. Don't shoot yourself with your gun. Maybe a jaywalker shouldn't be clubbed with your baton. Self Defense actually means defending yourself. I pass the test, no sweat. What do I win for completing such an arduous assignment?

** Phase 1 OC Spray Confidence Course ***

OOOooo Sounds exciting. Lets play. First a definition:

Pepper spray is a non-lethal chemical agent which is used in riot control and personal self-defense. The active ingredient in pepper spray is capsaicin, which is a chemical derived from cayenne, paprika, or chilies. Pepper spray is also known as OC spray (from "Oleoresin Capsicum") or OC gas. The excessive use of pepper spray has been linked to lasting injuries and fatalities. See also tear gas, chemical weapon.

The scoville rating for pepper spray can be as high as 5,300,000 for police grade and much lower for civilian grade.
We used police grade of course.

I stand three feet from a man I will forever remember and secretly resent. He asks, "Are you ready?" I reply with, "Yes", just as I notice the base photographer getting herself into a prime spot for the photo op. Her camera was the last thing I saw for the next forty minutes.

The spray came fast and strong, a surprise even though I knew I was ready. The bastard hit me with a stream across the eyes and then decided that he missed, giving me another burst straight in the middle of my face. I open my eyes and shout how many fingers the sprayer is holding up (a deceptively sinister part of this entire test, meant only to force you to open your damn eyes) then *> BAM <* my eyelids SLAM shut and remain uncontrollably closed in pure agonizing pain. I'm not saying that I couldn't open them because it just hurt too bad, my eyelids were as good as fuzed together, and impossibly they would not comply with my commands to open them. Opening my eyes would have been very helpful, as the next station had me "running" (more like prancing like a six-year old girl who thinks boogers are gross and just found one on the back of her hand) up to an "assailant" and putting him in a MACH 2 takedown (a stupidly intricate take down maneuver that requires complete cooperation from the bad guy for it to really work.) How did you see him? Impossible, your eyes at this point are useless. I used the sound of his voice and commands to get right up on him, grabbed what I hoped was his arm and carelessly slammed him into the ground, shouting "GET DOWN" like it was all HIS fault I was in this idiot of a predicament. 

Station Two rewarded me with my weapon, Excalibur! This small foam baton is used as a training device to mimic a police baton. It was all I needed to enact my enraged revenge. This little stick of foam would be my key to freedom and my newest best friend. I use excalibur to beat the crap out of my next invisible enemy, still unable to open my eyes I used his screams as a compass, my map to my salvation. Are these the roots of police brutality? 

I stumbled to Station Three and found myself completely at a loss as to what I should be doing. Nobody was shouting commands and I couldn't remember ANYTHING about what I was supposed to be doing, only the fire from my eyeballs remained in my mind. I stood there listening to the faint cheers and jeers from my friends waiting their turn, waiting for some sort of audible cue as to what I was supposed to be doing and where I was supposed to be doing it. Then it came, a tap from the back from an officer holding a practice pad. I laid into the sonvabitch like he had stole my lunch money. THEN. A tap from the front, they were trying to tag team my ass! Then I remember, front strike, rear jab. I became an animal, throwing everything I had against my two assailants. I soon heard the instruction to move on. 

Station Four had me in front of our instructor, a retired Gunny. "High Block!" he yelled and I blindly threw up my baton just in time to meet the attack. "Low Block!" "Strong-side Block!" "Weak-side Block!" all of met with sightless precision. "Go!" he said and I painfully ran in a random direction. 

"Wrong Way!" Ooops, I turned around and ran, managing to blink my eyes open just enough to see the man wearing the padded gear or "Red Man Suit" as it is called. He grabs my weapon, my only link to self defense. I rip it from his grasp with a stunning "Flying C" (Don't judge, I made up the name of that move, but I think it sounds better than "Make a C to disengage the attacker") I then beat the crap out of him with Excalibur, shouting "Get Down!" "Get Down!" The assailant gets on the ground and I sort of forget to stop hitting him. "Stop hitting him!" the instructor shouts, and I give him the rest of the commands, "Face away from my voice", "Put your hands out", "Palms up!", "Cross your legs!" "Bring your feet up to your butt". Problem is the pain was so great, all of this came out more like, "Get down! Face Away! Put your hands up! Palms! Cross your butt!!!!" I managed to scream "butt" the very loudest and in a moment of perplexing clarity found this strange and funny. The test was over. I won. I remember spending the next 35 minutes drowning myself on the end of a garden hose, doing everything I could to get my eyes to open. This will forever be the most painful thing I have had to endure, all for the sake of the spirit of volunteerism. What was that Navy stands for? Never Again Volunteer Yourself? Maybe I should at least proceed with caution before throwing my hand up in the air. 

***Update: It's been over 12 hours since I got nuked and it still hurts like a sunburn and cutting onions*** 

Moral: If ever staring down the bottle of a small red canister, RUN. Don't think, just run. 

***Update: I just posted the video of the encounter. Check it out!***

OC Spray