What is the maximum effective range of a… garbage can? Crazy question, I know. Until my first day of U.S. Army Basic Combat Training (BCT), or Boot Camp, as the whole world calls it, I would never have thought about that question, either. But no joke, there I was: barely three minutes into Boot Camp, and I saw an old school, steel, Oscar the Grouch, New York-style garbage can flying down the middle of barracks between the bunks. The first 0.7 seconds of that realization were hard to process. “What the heck?”

If it had hit someone, it would have knocked them out clean.

Stuff was flying everywhere. It was like being in a storm of clothes, duffle bags, mattresses, pillows, blankets, uniforms, and anything else that could be thrown. Cleaning supplies, Army gear, boots, training devices, and so on; nothing was safe. If it was not bolted to the floor, it was fair game. And of course, it was accompanied by a lot of screaming. Those three drill instructors sounded like five or six, and it was utter, sheer, pandemonium and crazy chaos. We were also getting a lesson on how to say lots of bad words in one sentence, Army Style.

And I could not help but laugh. I was actually kind of enjoying myself. Luckily for me, it was so chaotic none of the great white shark drill sergeants noticed.