Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Legend: A recruit tries to commit suicide by noosing himself to a heavy floor buffer and throwing that machine through a window; he fails to achieve his purpose and, adding insult to injury, is made to pay for damages to the machine.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1997]
Few new soldiers have had janitorial experience prior to their stints in the Army. The buffer is thus a new experience for almost everyone, and many are shocked to discover "Be All That You Can Be" often amounts to wrestling one of these monsters down endless halls in pursuit of the perfect mirror shine. The buffer is heavy, hard to control, and symbolizes menial enslavement to the service's ideal of all things immaculate at all times. It's little wonder it has come to star in one of the Army's
Basic training is hard, and it's a rare soldier who doesn't entertain at least a fleeting thought of chucking it all during the process. The failed suicide legend is an expression of the fears of failing to measure up to the demanding standards of Basic and of being laughed at by one's unit, a group that will come to mean more to the serviceman than his own family. In the legend, as in life, fear of looking foolish in front of one's comrades is seen as the far greater bogeyman. That the soldier in the story feels so beaten down as to become suicidal is seen as little more than a
Only rarely is this legend divorced of its Army associations and presented as a straight "failed suicide" tale:
[Flynn, 1999]Barbara "noose sense value" Mikkelson
There is nothing funny about suicide, but there are some people who fail to commit suicide in ways that are just too funny to be tragic. One such case which illustrates the point beautifully, is that of a young man who decided to stage a very public suicide by jumping from the roof of a 100-foot-high building. Fearing that his nerve might fail at the last moment, he dragged a very heavy industrial floor polisher all the way up the stairs to the top of the building. He planned to tie its power cable around his neck and shove the polisher off the building so that it would drag him over the edge. Having gone to the trouble of announcing his intentions to the crowd that had gathered outside the building, he pushed the floor polisher off the roof and waited for the cable to snap tight and drag him over. Standing there with his eyes closed he looked back over his short life and the many humiliations it had brought him. While deep in thought he heard a crash and realized that life had brought him one more. Being an industrial floor polisher, the device was fitted with a
Last updated: 2 August 2007
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