It seems that the army is all about inheriting and sharing. Elie had “extras” that he saved and gave to Chaim and Shmulik as he was given “extras” along the way of his service. Today, Elie and I drove Shmulik into Jerusalem to catch a bus to his base where he would meet up with his commanding officer.
It was also my youngest daughter’s first day of school. She is so different from her brothers. Days before school began, she was planning, getting ready, labeling her books and packing her backpack. She was up and ready to go long before the time and was upset that her brothers were taking to long to move out. Finally, as far as she was concerned, they made their way to the car and we were off. A quick smile, a few words and she was off for her first day of 5th grade.
We drove into Jerusalem, amazed at the lack of traffic. We glided out of Maale Adumim, up the winding road, through three traffic lights that graced us with the green-to-go. I made it through the last of the lights before the first bus station, pulled to the right and wished Shmulik a good day. As we had been driving those last few minutes, we were talking about which bus he had to take and where he had to go to catch it.
He got out of the car; I drove away as Elie said, “Was he wearing dargot?” Well, heck, you think I know what a dargot is? Wait, dargot is plural for darga…level, rank. Got it. Didn’t help much, I hadn’t noticed anything.
Shmulik’s rank is that of a private – equals no bars. Once they get to the rank of corporal, jobniks often put the two bars on their uniforms (actually, I think they have to); combat soldiers think anything less than three is beneath them so you’ll almost never see a combat soldier with anything less than three stripes, when they become a sergeant. Then, when you are promoted to Staff Sergeant, you get the thing in the middle.
As Shmulik left the car, Elie thought he saw “dargot” – three bars on Shmulik’s sleeve. This is equivalent to either a Staff Sergeant (Elie’s rank) or at least a Sergeant. Either way, it wasn’t a private and doesn’t belong.
“I didn’t see,” I answered Elie, “call him and check.”
“If he has dargot and gets caught, that’s a serious mishpat [violation/infraction/something that means a serious punishment].” So Elie dialed and asked Shmulik.
And the answer. Shmulik had not even realized, but yes, he was wearing dargot. “Take them off,” Elie warned him.
“I can’t,” Shmulik said, “they’re sewed on.”
“Where did you get them?” To which Shmulik explained that a friend had given him the “extra” uniform and Shmulik hadn’t thought to check anything other than it being green, relatively in good condition, and clean.
“Take them off,” Elie warned again and explained the consequences were serious. The Israeli army is a lot more lenient and relaxed than most armies, but not about this. Elie laughed when Shmulik realized he’d put the wrong pants on one time; Elie wasn’t laughing about the dargot on Shmulik’s sleeves. You do NOT impersonate an officer.
“Rip the stitches,” Elie told him again. We said goodbye after Shmulik insisted that he didn’t think he could take them off and Elie warned again of the seriousness of the offense.
Well, Shmulik returned a while ago and I asked him if everything was okay. He got to base and saw a “Rasar.” Now, I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what that was (it’s a Master Sergeant), but I knew it wasn’t good. “And then I saw another one, and another.”
“What did you do?” I asked him, waiting to hear if he’d been caught. “I went between the buildings and I didn’t look at them. But then, when I got close to my building, there were three more there.”
“Why were there so many?” I asked him Well, it turns out the Chief of the General Staff was coming to the base and all the “Rasar” officers were trying to herd regular soldiers indoors. Apparently, General Ashkenazi has a tendency to want to talk to regular soldier and make sure all is in order. The Rasarim (is that the way to say more than one?), try to keep them out of the way by getting them inside.
Shmulik’s commanding officer, thankfully, has a sense of humor. Shmulik thankfully had extra uniforms on base and quickly changed out of it. So, for a few minutes, Shmulik was a rank above himself. I can assure you, though, that he didn’t enjoy it for a moment and he’ll be removing those dargot as soon as he can; certainly before he makes the mistake of wearing those borrowed uniforms again.