So you still want to be a mercenary, even after reading part one. What the hell is wrong with you? To recap, this is not the sort of life meant for those seeking fame and fortune. That said, it also isn’t a lifestyle that requires one to be highly qualified in the art of warfare, though it helps. I am not grossly qualified, not bedecked with long tabs, nor was I ever referred to as an “operator” while serving my country in the U.S. Army. In fact, the only special training I have received was during my childhood.

From six to 17, I rode a bus that was shorter than the one the other students rode. That bus took me to the side of my school. From there I descended through a double metal door and into the basement. I attended a special class in the boiler room with a small group of other select children, and I could eat all of the paste that my heart desired. I enjoyed that lifestyle. That is, until our special bus dropped us off at the armed forces recruiting center instead of taking us to school. Our educators, friends, and family called us “special.” Many others still do to this day, as did the men in uniform who made us like them.

This relates to your next lesson: You will need to have a lighthearted outlook on life, as the world around you will constantly shift, and there will be unplanned obstructions in your path. On the home-front, you will need to really leave that life behind. Not in the typical military sense, but more in the prison sense. Say goodbye to your friends, family, and loved ones, because you will no longer have the time or connectivity to be an active or integrated part of their life.

Next, ditch your concept of self-worth and your overdeveloped, bullshit self-image. All right, sure you can keep it if you want, but it is unlikely to do you many favors. Consider this: You are not applying at Office Emporium, lying your way into a job as the third-shift stock boy. This is real, and you will need to clearly and concisely define what you can actually do, as you will need to eventually back it up. Your actual abilities are set to be tested in real, Third-World, unorganized, asymmetrical combat, in a place where you most likely do not speak the language or have a realistic, concrete plan to leave in a hurry. If you are, in fact, a failure in the field, your supervisor is not a high-school student, and the consequences are tangible and immediate. Here, Jimmy and your co-workers are most certainly not the cast from “Workaholics.”

So, let’s say you fibbed your way onto your first mission. Now, do you really think your past excuses such as,
“My goldfish died” or “I was drunk, and she said she was 18” would really work in this situation? Granted that you will most likely be escorted out of there, but you could also be murdered by the team of mercenaries that you have deceived, or get yourself killed because you don’t belong there in the first place. The time to get real and grow up is now upon you. Say goodbye to the BS you tell yourself and others. Reality will need to set in, and prior to your decision to sally forth on this new endeavor.

Get your mind right, there are demolition charges to prepare! Image courtesy of Buck Clay.
Get your mind right, there are demolition charges to prepare! Image courtesy of author.

That doesn’t mean you are destined to be as bland as the humorless and stereotypically overboard government employee, not by a longshot if you are truly cut out for this line of work. Break out your sledgehammer and tear down the fourth wall because all of reality is now your stage. Congratulations, you are on your way to developing the charisma and wit of a true madman.

Humor becomes your medium, and you will need it to stay sane enough to avoid getting locked up in an institution. The new life you have chosen has likely left you destitute, your new paycheck—which you mostly likely will never see—may barely break three figures. The people from home are far away and you’re not part of their life anymore. Your new surroundings are hostile and foreign. This situation seems precarious to an outsider, but like any ordinary Tuesday to anyone who has been kicked around a bit. The time is now upon you to learn to make the best of the situation, and on brain power alone.

Defining the Modern-Day Mercenary

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I know that is a terrifying concept to most. OMG, I can’t imagine a world without my phone! Well, you’d better lose the phone, especially one from home, unless your goal it to be killed or imprisoned. You’ve abandoned your life at home for the chance at making some unlikely known/unknown difference in the world, but you’re more likely to eat incoming fire than succeed at such lofty goals.

Sure, you could enjoy spending some time reading, smoking cigarettes, and enjoying alcoholic and/or caffeinated beverages, but that doesn’t last very long. The time of action is now upon you. It’s best to nut up and be clever. If you succeed/survive, the world will become your oyster in a twisted, Deadpool-meets-MacGyver fashion for the rest of your days, which you will spend content that it can always be far worse, and that you can now entertain yourself by manipulating objects through fieldcraft or by pushing the buttons of people around you for education or fun. On the other hand, you might just mentally break—individual results may vary.

Real mercenaries idolized Deadpool, well before the movie. Image courtesy of Marvel.
Real mercenaries idolized Deadpool well before the movie. Image courtesy of Marvel.

Either way, your newfound take on life will not be appreciated in the world you left behind. So, you’ve now got that going for you.

I must strongly advise against mentally breaking in any situation, especially while partaking in such an exclusive and removed subculture of humanity, the one with all of your new mercenary friends, in the middle of a war zone. You’re really going to need to keep your wits about you for important things like staying alive, not being raped or captured, and eventually, explaining to the authorities exactly what the hell you were up to over there.

Let’s say you are now a fourth-wall-smashing master, and you’re cool. You didn’t douchebag it up over there, and some dick isn’t going to make fun of you when your grandkids look into your exaggerations—great legacy, fucksticks…you people know who you are. So unless you are totally fucked in the head, have nothing else to live for, or have found yourself contently institutionalized by military life, you will eventually leave. You will get bored and miss being around women and having a beer when you want. The rose-color lenses on your new life will begin to fade, and you will become tired of the games and limitations found in your surroundings. You may find yourself fed up with political drama in your organization.

How weird are you ready to get? Because this is not an acceptable substitute for Waffle House. Image courtesy of Buck Clay.
How weird are you ready to get? Because this is not an acceptable substitute for Waffle House. Image courtesy of author.

Don’t get cute when you gear up for that outbound flight, either. It’s 2016. Unless you left everything connecting you at home; stowed away on a boat; operated abroad without using your identity or anything but cash while evading every camera, computer, and phone, you’re boned. The man knows you were there and most likely already knows exactly what you were doing the whole time. Do not force them to ask what you were up to, and don’t compromise your integrity. Welcome to the big leagues. Fortunately, you’re unsigned rookie meat, and not usually worth their time. You can just as easily become an arrest on some other agent’s evaluation report.

This is where things get weird in regards to legality; I really hope you did your homework before leaving. Your paramount concern should be that you fought for the correct side, and I don’t care about any of you God-fearing, race car-loving wide loads; or your pinko, lefty, homoerotic propaganda and politics. Shut up, I don’t care. I do care about what you should care about: Were you, and are you still, on the side of your government. That is, your real government, not some disillusionment you might experience about your current geographic location. Remember that you went abroad to be paid in adventure, and for God’s sake I hope you didn’t go full native. Get a grip.

There will be questions, and the questions will most likely start prior to you even setting foot on that final flight home. You will be searched and questioned, and I most certainly hope that you’ve mastered the skills listed thus far in this series. Because if you are a bullshitter, you are broken, you’re a bad guy, or if you have no positive outlook or creative constructivism to get you through this next ordeal, then you may never go home—at least not with your freedom.  

Practicality versus morality: Is 'mercenary' a dirty word?

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Welcome to the rest of your life. The next reward for volunteer service abroad will start and then continue for the remainder of your known existence. Your reward will be severe, persistent government scrutiny. Brace yourself, federal agents are coming. Some will be waiting on you before you board an aircraft to verify your travel details, others may just want to get a coffee to check your status or vet you, as your profile may link you as a person of interest in a random crime.

But the best ones will come unannounced, and will not identify themselves as they shake you down at home. Then, they’ll leave as suddenly as they arrived without a rhyme or reason. What are you going to do about it, punk? Cry to the ACLU? Threaten legal action? Good luck with that and your future in below-minimum wage employment, being on the no-fly list, and direct ostracization. You’re now a usual suspect, and there is not a damned thing you can do about it. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

I hope that you choose wisely, and that I'll see you pre-flight at the Steak House in the capital. Image courtesy of Buck Clay.
I hope that you choose wisely, and that I’ll see you pre-flight at the Steak House in the capital. Image courtesy of author.

Pack lightly, check your hubris, develop a sense of humor, and abandon all hope. Until next time.