Gimmee 500

When I was in boot camp, after six weeks or so, one day the Chief walked up to the company, picks out a robust  young lad and asks him, “What kind of physical condition are you?” The kid puffs up his chest and  answers “Excellent, Sir” My CPO looked him up and down and said, “Okay, prove it. Gimmee 500.” The kid gets down and started pumping them out.

He turns to another fellow who says the same thing. and he gets 500.

Then the Chief  turns to me and asks me the same question, “What kind of shape are you in?” I thought about it for a moment or two (the light bulb is going off in my head by now) and said “Good, Sir.” He said to me, “Fine. Give me 100” and I get down and start pumping them out, too.

So we are all down there pumping them out and he turns to the other guys and says, “You think you are better than you really are. Nobody here is in excellent condition. Are any of you a SEAL? Those guys are in excellent condition. Best you can hope for here is to be good or possibly pretty good condition.”

I get done with my 100 and he says, “50 situps.”  So I roll over and start doing  50 sit-ups. Meanwhile the kids have passed 150 push-ups and only have 350 more to go. They didn’t make it, but I did even after 50 more squat-thrusts.

The lesson was clear: “You are not as good as you think you are. Don’t get overconfident.”


Still, to this day, I still hear men bragging to me how good they are at driving. I don’t say anything much when I hear it.

I have had my practical driving skills tested maybe 20 times in my life and every time the instructors passed me. Trucks, buses, cars, trailers, it takes a bit to learn how to back them up but the rest is easy if “you keep thinking UP” and stay aware of the environment and that means looking around you, not just what’s in front.

Not a single instructor told me that my skills were “excellent.” They may have paid me a compliment about where my hands were on the steering wheel (9 & 3 o’clock), but that was about it. They said nothing more or less about anything.

I think that is the way it ought to be. I don’t think I am a very good driver. I think I am “okay.”

3 replies
  1. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    One of my red-neck relatives is famous for saying:

    “I drive better drunk than most men do sober.”

    • Eric
      Eric says:

      I hear the same thing, but it involves cell phones. “Those other drivers are lousy, so they should ban [fill in the blank], but I’m an excellent driver.”

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