The finest Subway I ever had was in 2003 when my fellow troop leaders and I pulled over for lunch, on route in a hire car to Calgary after coming off the prairie.
To be frank, the exercise from a personal perspective had been a god-damn nightmare, everything that could have gone wrong, short of someone getting killed, had gone wrong.
Levels of desperation in my turret had reached epic proportions during the crawling, creeping nights. But I’d made it through the wilderness, to be released, bound for Calgary, and that foot-long sub represented everything that was good about being out of military uniform and re-engaged in the real world; and it tasted pretty good, too.
Our first night out we walked into a random bar and the first thing we heard was a chorus of rowdy greetings: “Oi, Jeffers!” being one of them.
We’d bumped into a bunch of sergeants from The Prince of Wales’ Royal Regiment who we’d got to know during the exercise and who seemed to have taken a shine to us, even though I’d rammed the Warrior vehicle of one of their brethren with my tank during an assault on some enemy bunkers.
Before we knew it, the bar was rammed with soldiers and officers from all the different units which had been on exercise and who had made the same pilgrimage to Calgary; it was like being in a very drunken assembly area before crossing the line of departure at H-Hour.
In addition to the PWRR boys there was Scottish infantry, engineers, logistic drivers, admin clerks, medics, helicopter pilots, every echelon was represented, all bouncing off the walls of the bar. We left before things got too fruity.
Standing at an intersection, figuring out where to go, a taxi pulled up and the window rolled down. I found myself looking at my commanding officer. I’d had a few drinks and that was the last thing I wanted to see. So I did what seemed obvious–I turned and ran in the opposite direction.
Probably not the most politic thing to do with your boss, but, damn it, I hadn’t come to Calgary to hang out with the hierarchy. No way, Colonel, there was Canadian beer and some pretty Canadian women out there and I hadn’t seen much of either while festering in my tank contemplating the long dark tea-time of the breech block.