With thanks to 12289 Richard Groves and the Class of ’79
It was a Monday night in the middle of August, 1975, one week into our recruit term. One of the myriad things we had learned that first week was how to make our beds, commonly referred to as ‘pits’. Every evening we would improve the appearance of our pit by ironing the part of the sheet that was folded down, inserting the piece of cardboard that came inside our brand new shirts between the sheet and the side of the mattress to make the sheet absolutely flat and perfect, using multiple safety pins to fasten the ugly blue counter-pane to the far side of the mattress such that a quarter would bounce off of the counterpane. Most importantly, we never dared actually get inside the bed.
Each night we would carefully place the starched and ironed pillows on our desks, move the spare blanket to the head of the bed to protect the exposed sheets, and use our dressing gown as a blanket. The next morning, when we were told we had 20 minutes to be ready for a room and dress inspection, all we had to do to make the bed was to pull the counterpane tight and replace the blanket and pillow. This gave us 19 minutes to shave, get dressed, tidy up, clean the sink, and hopefully be ready for inspection. Of course, even though the CFL yelled ’20 minutes for room and dress inspection’, the time actually allotted grew shorter each day, but that is a different story.
One night, after we had all been assigned our allotment of circles to run for the various indiscretions we had committed that day, had had our nightly shower, and were in pajamas, it was finally time to go to bed. We prepared our now almost immaculate pits as we normally did, and tried to find a sleep position that would cause the least damage to our work. Imagine our horror when the doors to our rooms suddenly opened, and the senior outside ordered us to actually get inside the bed, between the sheets. We carefully obliged, wondering how much sleep we would lose later that night trying to repair the damage.
Then the unimaginable happened. Five minutes of ‘Pit Drill’. Right turn. About turn. Left turn. Quick March. All the while we were inside our carefully manicured bed! No amount of ironing, cardboard or safety pins would repair this mess!
The seniors were enjoying this far too much. Finally, when it was over, we understood why. The CFL’s last words were, “Don’t forget linen exchange tomorrow morning. Sheets and pillowcases are to be neatly folded at the foot of your bed.” What we had been thinking was an act of ultimately cruelty was actually one of kindness. Our pits were now nice and comfy for a good night’s sleep, the first one inside a bed for a whole week!