“Do you ever have random bouts of existential crisis” — me, all this week.

So you may or may not have read from my Facebook feed earlier or yesterday or however the heck time works on this planet that for whatever reason, it has been a rough couple of days.

But that’s not actually what this post is about.

No, this post is actually about something kind of cool that happened.

I was sitting in an office, doing nothing, lacking purpose, falling into an existential crisis, etc. when a Sergeant Major walked in and introduced himself to me. Cool guy, very personable, but didn’t take too much time to chat with me because, you know, I’m just a brand new boot with nothing to show for herself. (Would’ve had jump wings by now if not for the Big Green Weenie, but it’s fine! I’m over it, clearly.)

Anyway, after our brief chat, Sergeant Major turned to the two Sergeant First Classes and Captain in the room to discuss business with them. He started talking about this spot about alcohol awareness that he’s been trying to put together for the General, and discovered that it had to be 30 seconds to air on AFN. He called someone on the phone, put it on speaker, and tried to negotiate the time limit. I knew it wouldn’t go anywhere (do you know how many points I saw lost for a student — either me or a classmate — busting time on our assignments in AIT? No go, bro.) and it quickly didn’t.

Sergeant Major panicked a little. “How am I supposed to get it down to 30 seconds??” (He was over time by 1:16.) “It takes away from the story!” “There’s no way! “You’re sure it’s non-negotiable?” Etc. etc.

I sat there from across the room, hesitating…holding my breath. Should I do it should I do it this is your chance Angela it’s dangling right in front of —

“Sergeant Major,” I said before I could stop myself. “Not to cross any lines here, but making spots is part of my job. I could help you out if you’d like me to take a look at it.”

The two Sergeant First Classes and Captain laughed like I wasn’t right in front of them. I expected them to. I mean, it was funny — a brand new Private First Class with nothing whatsoever to show for herself and she’s just gonna jump into this conversation she probably shouldn’t have even been listening to and offer her “services”? Yeah, I could see why they laughed. I would have too.

“Yeah, yeah,” Sergeant Major said, ignoring the others and turning to me. “Hey that’d be great, hold on I’ll show you right now.” He quickly pulled up the video, and after scrutinizing his work, I ensured him there was plenty we could do to cut time and keep the story he was going for. He might’ve seemed a little unsure, but he gave me the project and I set to work. (He did later manage to get the time limit up to 00:59;00, which he seemed happy about.)

I finished the next morning well before lunch, shaving the project down to perfect time and keeping the general arc of the story and message. I even added a little creative twist with what little skill I have in Adobe Premiere and he really liked that. We worked on it a little more together, and the end result was him seeming overall pretty satisfied and grateful for my help. We showed the Colonel together (full bird, mind you) and he enjoyed it. He laughed when he was supposed to and agreed the story arc and message were clear. He gave me a “very well done” after I left his office.

Now, the spot is burned onto multiple disks and is making its way up the chain of command, passing through the judgement of many high-ranking eyes, all the way up to the General. I told Sergeant Major not to say my name if they didn’t like it.

I’m still a good-for-not-very-much boot with little to show for herself, except for maybe some balls when listening to other people’s conversations. Often times, however, in order to get any kind of anywhere — even in gradual steps — you have to be ballsy and take risks. It’s like my good dear friend Dane once told me one of his teachers once told him: success is like a parachute. If you run down a gradual slope it might catch a little wind, but when it really works is when you run full speed off a cliff. Some people don’t have parachutes. But the only way to find out if you do is to jump.

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