January 05, 2009

An Officer And A Gentleman

I just finished watching "An Officer And A Gentleman." I love that movie. LOVE IT! I bet my favorite parts aren't what you think either. You can take out all of the love scenes and I would love it just as much.

I think I like the story of the man who came from such dispair and hopelessness and rose out of the ashes like Phoenix. Zack Mayo goes to live with his father after his mother has committed suicide. His alcoholic father has no desire to be a father at all nor has he ever been and makes it known he doesn't want to be. But Zack has hopes and dreams. He wants to be a Naval Pilot. Of course his father doesn't think he has it in him. So he bails on the dad and runs off to Aviation Officer Candidate School.
Mayo has what it takes, but he has a bad attitude, is selfish and self-centered. He's into getting ahead with no thought of anyone else and has no interest in being part of the team. For that reason Gunnery Sergeant Foley is all always on his back.

Well, Mayo gets caught cheating. Foley wants him to quit. Mayo refused. Foley takes him through a rough & rigorous weekend of physical punishment. He wants to make his life hell so he'll quit on his own. Mayo never quits. Foley pretty much tells him "too bad, you're outta here."

Mayo breaks down. He cracks his hard outer shell and breaks down...

"I got nowhere else to go! I got nowhere else to go... I got nothin' else."

Foley allows him to stay. And we see a change in Mayo after that. He learns what it's like to be part of a team. He learns, for probably the first time in his life, what it's like to have and be part of a network of support. Thus he mends his ways.

Their 13th and last week of training is called survival week. It's pretty self explainitory. One of their final tasks in training is an obstacle course. Mayo is up for getting the record for the fastest time ever for completing the course. The course is started at 5 second intervals, two candidates at a time will go, then a 5 second wait and another two will go. As Mayo begins and passes his teammate each team mates give him encouragement to "go for the record!" He come to a wall that each person has to get over by grabbing a rope and walking up and over the wall.

The 1 female candidate in the class has always had trouble getting over the wall.
He approaches the wall and the Candidate Seegar is struggling. He gets over the way and in passing encourages her. She stuggles and fall, just hanging and dangling on the rope. Mayo gets to the top of the wall, looks down and tells her to "walk the wall..." She tells him to just go on and get the record, he jumps off the back of the wall, goes around to the front and proceeds to talk her through walking the wall and they do it together:

Don't you let go! You walk that wall! Pull! Pull! Pull, Candidate Seeger! Pull! One leg! You got it! Pull over! Pull over! Pull yourself over! All right!"

He puts aside his own "fame and glory" to help his teammate.
The rest of the movie was ok. Mayo produces a happy ending in the movie.

I think these particular scenes were touching to me because they make me think. Why the heck did Mayo have to be physically broken down to get to the point of "catching a clue?" How much are we like that? Holding on to false characteristics that make us less of who we can really be? Mayo presented the appearance of being impressive only when needed. Is that how we are? Knowing exactly what we need to do to impress people, instead of having the kind of character that encourages us to do our best even when no one is looking or watching over us? I guess that's called brown nosing, yeah? YEAH.

How often to we grab the hand of a family member, friend, or colleague and help them over the wall? And do we do it only when the Gunnary Sergeant is watching, so we look impressive?
Something to think about I guess. I guess for me Officer and a Gentleman is all about integrity. Integrity with a few cuss words, a tradgedy and love story all mixed in.
Integrity is doing the right thing and doing your best even when no one else is around to see it or applaud it. It is the core of who we are.
I hope for TWO Oh ZERO NINE we will focus a bit more on being an Officer and a Gentleman. ;)