R-L-P. These three letters have crossed my mind a thousand times in the past two weeks, leaving me completely unhinged each and every time. RLP stands for Room, Locker, Personnel and it is a thorough inspection that every Officer Candidate must pass in order to move on to Phase Two of OCS. Should you fail the inspection, you roll back and start all over.
The inspection isn’t as basic as it sounds. It is meant to test every part of a Officer Candidate’s knowledge and 95% of who passes and who fails is pre-determined based on total performance thus far. They look for attitude, teamwork, humility, knowledge, organization, readiness, etc; and they often demand that they perform extremely physical or humiliating tasks while they tear the room apart to see how the Officer Candidate responds to the stress. If the Drill Instructor thinks someone needs some humbling, no amount of attention to detail will get him through that test, and they will roll back.
Jake’s RLP was this Thursday. He has performed so well through Phase I that I was terrified that they would label him as one of those that needed some humbling. The thought of spending an extra four weeks away from him (on top of the seven weeks still left) if he were to start over got my hands shaking whenever I thought about it. I spent all Thursday morning holding my breath until that afternoon when I got a one line e-mail telling me that he had passed. I cried and laughed at the same time from the pure relief of knowing Jake is safely in Phase II.
Passing into Phase II comes with benefits. Jake has now moved to a room with a computer where he can access e-mail more often, allowing us to exchange pictures, and he can now participate in phone hours on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings. All day Saturday I knew Jake would call that evening, and I felt more nervous than I had on our first date. When I finally heard his voice again after twenty-eight days without it, it felt as warm and relaxing as a seriously good glass of wine and I just wanted to listen and listen and never say a word. Since he has to yell all the time there, his voice now sounds like he’s smoked cigarettes forever and the boyish mischievousness I’m familiar with has been replaced with a more calm, precise way of expression. He told me all about how he was made to lay on the floor and do “Hello-Dolly’s” while yelling the Navy and Marine Corps theme songs as they tore apart all his hard work, and I got to tell him about seeing our baby and hearing our baby’s heartbeat for the first time (now 9 weeks old). Even after everything, he doesn’t sound the least bit discouraged, and so I won’t be either. I’m just so proud to be his.
52 days left.