Welcome to the military spouse world, where up is sometimes down and left is sometimes right. It's a wonderful place, full of strange things that don't make most of us bat an eye. And if we're honest, kind of love all of all the weirdness, even if it does sometimes drive us insane. So let's take a moment to celebrate the military culture in all its awesome crazy.
1. You can spit out your wife or husband's social security number in an instant, but need three minutes to remember your own (and can't believe someone actually asked for it). "My last four? Not his? Are you sure? Umm ... it is 243 ... no, wait. Um ... oh! 3521. No, wait, that's not right ... Can you hang on while I go look?"
2. Your stuff is packed during a move in the weirdest possible way. When you find parts to your couch packed by a professional mover into a Buffalo Wild Wings box, you know something has gone horribly wrong. And who thought it was a good idea to pack all of your shoes directly on top of your wedding dress and ball gowns?
3. Tricare surprises no one by acting like, well, Tricare. No, they won't cover that common cranium helmet to make sure your kid's skull ends up shaped the right way, but they'll totally do brain surgery instead because it's not considered "experimental." Wait, what?
4. Paperwork must be filled out as soon as you move to a new place where you known no one, but you must list two local friends' names and phone numbers. So you turn to the person next to you in the waiting room with the exact same problem and offer to swap names and numbers just so you can finally get out of there ... or you make up a fake person, telling yourself that you'll update this stuff later when you actually know someone.
5. Those pens. How do they always end up in your washing machine and why does the military even buy pens that explode so easily? It's not like they are exploding on the enemy -- unless the enemy is clean laundry.
6. That uniform smell. OK, maybe the enemy IS clean laundry. When the military chooses contractors to develop the fabric for uniforms, one of the requirements is definitely "must hold on to stench so well that the only option for getting rid of the smell is to burn it."
7. The commissary is a grocery store that defies all social rules of all other grocery stores. It's not just that it has a dress code. It's not just that they are a little squirrely about coupons. And it's not just the mandated-by-law 5 percent "surcharge" or the fact that they don't carry beer, wine, baby bibs or greeting cards. But having staff to bag your groceries that are actually not staff but just volunteers working for tips? Come on, that's over the top.
8. You bank on the commissary's produce being bad. We don't know how they do it so flawlessly. But no matter where you go, the produce at the commissary is kind of iffy. If there is an award for consistency in rotting strawberries, they should totally win it.
9. PowerPoint is for all the things. No, it's not your imagination, PowerPoint presentations are still the most boring way to give information to an audience. But that doesn't stop the military -- and I mean every single facet of it. Helpful class for spouses? PowerPoint! Meeting with your spouse's unit? PowerPoint! Church service on base? PowerPoint! Whyyyyyyyyyyy?
10. Paperwork is also for all the things. The military doesn't let something silly like living in the 21st century stop them from making you fill out by hand a ton of paperwork for every single thing you want to do. Bonus: they might even ask you to fax it somewhere. That's not meant to be an ironic homage to the 1980s. They for real cannot just scan and email it. (And when they can you are completely shocked).
11. The most nerve wracking part of your job interview isn't you or your skills -- it's your spouse. Should you tell your potential employer that you are a military spouse? It's not any of their business, right? But what if you need some extra time off or a little bit of grace so that you can do something little like, oh, attend homecoming during a normal workday?
12. Even though it's weird to the outside, somehow you still love military life. So all that stuff really is strange. And sometimes the military does drive you crazy. But you wouldn't trade this lifestyle for a normal one -- and you'll totally make a PowerPoint presentation to show it.