So much has been written about sleep, “Nature’s soft nurse” who “knits up the raveled sleeve of care”, but too little attention has been paid to the subject of waking up. Why is that?
Anyone who drops off to sleep, “perchance to dream”, will have to regain consciousness eventually. Why have the poets neglected this? I once thought I might be the one to write about the pleasures of awakening to a new day, ripe with opportunities for discovery and adventure, but Sergeant McBrootle changed all that.
Sgt McBrootle, or old #%@*! as he was known to the lower ranks, felt that bugles were all right for parades and horse races, but, to awaken men sleeping off the effects of 16 hours of calisthenics and marching, something more to the point was needed.
Two hours before dawn on our second day of basic training we were given a demonstration of the sergeant’s theory. Reveille began with the tossing of a garbage can filled with steel mess kits down the barracks stairs, folllowed by McBrootle’s obscene shouts while marching up and down between our bunks, banging on a washbasin with a bayonet.
It was an effective method. The transition from sleep to wakefulness was instantaneous and universal, but there were glitches. Two rattled rookies had to be coaxed down from their upper bunks. One was actually hanging from a rafter. There was also the suspected heart attack.
Sgt McBrootle would probably have worked out these little bugs had he not been seriously wounded in combat the following year. The combat took place behind the For Dix mess hall. He’d been pummeled with a heavy wash basin. There were several hundred suspects, but no arrests.
However, two months of being shocked into wakefulness by the McBrootle method took its toll. I was no longer an “Oh what a beautifyl morning” (OWABM) riser , but, for survival purposes, had switched to the “Dead on arrival” (DOA) category.
The world is probably divided evenly between OWABM’s and DOA’s which, in my opinion, is one of the major causes of high school dropouts, broken marriages, assault and battery cases and unsolved disappearances.
In a slower-paced society, DOA’s might find suitable employment as night watchmen and similar professions where the wake-up process can take a half hour or so of coaxing, but a real cure must be found very soon. Many of these unfortunate DOA’s are now in high government positions.
In the meantime, some of us DOA’s can be lured back to consciousness by the inviting aromas of bacon, eggs and coffee or an electrifying announcement like, “Thank goodness, the fire engines have finally arrived!”