I never thought too much about the first four years in the Air Force.....at least til the last year or two (thirty years after the fact). In retrospect, there are a couple of things that you gain from wisdom or stupidity....depending on the way you look at things.
1. There are a lot of stupid people and crazy folks in the world. You need to develop a quick method of recognizing the two groups and ensuring a fair amount of distance between you and them. They aren't your friends....your associates....or people that you should trust. If you are lucky, the military will realize their issues and help them return quickly to civilian life.
2. As bad as chow hall food might be.....they really can't screw up any breakfast menu. It doesn't matter if we are talking about pancakes, waffles, omelets, or bacon. So it's smart to attend every single breakfast and enjoy the one meal of the day without burnt edges, 200-percent salt added, or tasteless food.
3. You learn this nifty trick of just laying down and getting 25 minutes of a nap....to help make up for the four hours of sleep that you missed last night due to a false fire alarm (two or three times a year), a barracks fight around midnight (usually every other weekend), or a recall by the squadron (every other month).
4. You eventually learn that just about everyone you meet from New York City is interesting and deep into character flaws. You also learn that most everyone from Arkansas are accommodating and genuine in terms of humbleness. And you learn that anyone from the upper peninsula area of Michigan are capable of hunting bears, boars, elephants, and various exotic creatures that should only thrive in Africa.
5. You learn that the BX only sells clothing that fits some male model style guy....who likes the colors of red and yellow.....and it's stuff you'd be embarrassed to wear anywhere except to the TV room of the barracks.
6. You eventually learn that the TV room of the barracks is the point where intellectual discussions often take place. These talks include the possibility of aliens, the family burdens of the Ewing family of Texas, the finer points of professional wrestling, car repair, travel tips on cheap hotels, and pick-up advice on young women who hang out at the NCO Club.
7. You learn that some places around America are boat-anchors for miserable feelings and frustrations. Then you learn of places where you seem to be happy....365 days out of the year. It makes no sense, but you learn that by traveling.....you will eventually find the perfect place.
8. You eventually learn that barracks parties are occasions where stupid things occur, and potential downfalls in life might occur. So, you learn how to avoid such parties.
9. You learn that a pair of combat boots....after they get broke in.....are the most comfortable shoe on the face of the Earth.
10. You learn that patience is a great skill in life. You learn this....mostly by waiting and waiting, and waiting, and waiting for various things to occur on time.....but they never do occur at the time they were supposed to occur.