For the Security
Note and Disclaimer: We all know the usual. M*A*S*H is never ours.
Some people don't understand that security comes from the mind and ability, not just by action alone. You cannot jump from one place to another and run away from what has been chasing you. One day, there won't be a place to hide. This story defines Private Igor Stravinsky.
Like most people, he was born in New York City. Nothing special defined his childhood except the fact that he was constantly being bullied and beaten, either outside or in the home. It didn't help that he kind of was an idiot. Igor wasn't one for the books. Even on the streets, he was considered pretty dumb.
But Igor knew that he had to do something with his life. In New York, you survived or sunk. Igor watched and learned as he grew up – and soon understood that someone had to have some sort of security to keep afloat. It was not just money and status. He had to have something that will guard him from all harm.
Security. It meant everything to Igor. Once he figured out that he had to grasp onto anything that will protect him, life was easier. When he found a way to punch back, he no longer had bruises. When he graduated from school, not everyone called him a dolt. When he decided to be an apprentice for a trade, he was able to make a living. For the first time in his life, he was on track and secure.
Igor had a knack of getting distracted too. Once he found something better (like a woman or booze), he was vulnerable again. Then, that old activity came knocking and he had to find a place to hide. Viola! He found another way out and he was secure once more.
This especially happened with women. Igor had a knack for picking up a girl and then seeing another on the side. It even happened after he married. His wife had no idea, scrubbing the dishes and caring for their son, that Igor was out on the town. He was gambling with his girlfriend and earning a living, all the while pretending to be working long hours at some shop.
It didn't take too long before she caught on. Mrs. Stravinsky was disgusted and made a move most women did not consider: divorce. Igor was too stupid to sign anything…because he was on the run again. He was scrambling to find a new position. He didn't arrive to court because he was too scared to ask for directions. He weaseled his way out of scandal.
Separated from his wife, Igor spent his time rushing from one place to another. The same pattern repeated itself over and over again. Yet, Igor always found a place of security. He managed to keep at least one step ahead of the angry mob until the Army caught up to him. By the summer of 1950, Korea was facing decimation and the US was sending its finest to meet the horde. Igor happened to be one of them.
The Army had no idea what to do with Igor. He hardly had any skills and intelligence. He could not become an officer or work a specific skill. Instead, he became the cook's assistant and served food at the 4077th M*A*S*H Mess Tent.
For the first time in a long time, Igor felt a deep sense of security. Even though he endured day after day of jokes about the food, he felt that he was far from his problems. Don't get me wrong. Igor hated the Army. But being far from the US also meant that he was no longer being chased. No woman threatened him. Some job he screwed up didn't knock for money for repairs. He was free to do as he wished and not suffer the consequences…just as long as he prepared the Mess Tent in time.
Igor also experienced something that he never felt before: family. Even though he adored his girls and his son back home, he never felt closer to anyone before than the people he served with. He made friends with the enlisted personnel. He annoyed the officers. Not to mention, he now had a sense of purpose. He was trained as an orderly, cleaning more than bedpans and bringing in patients. He could draw blood for donations, insert an IV and more. Now, that was security.
After his war, Igor found that he was not discharged. He signed on for more time in the Army. He liked it. He was far from his troubles and they took him out of the country. Not to mention, his debts did not follow him. The world laid at his feet, from West Germany to Japan and even Mexico.
Security was the name of the game. Igor did not want to give it up. He had to survive. Even though the Army was a war machine, they offered free food, clothes and shelter. For Igor, it meant security at its finest. It was all he could hold onto.
I am Death though…and there is always a way to me. Igor was not changed much by Korea. There was always security in Mess Tent work that he could focus on. To him, it meant no failure, but it also equated to a build-up of resentment. For there will come a time when he is in an alleyway…and someone will come to collect on what is owed. Nobody will save him.