Hello! I'm Dave, and I recently began the long paper-trail to join the Air Force reserve as part of the Security Forces. This is a detailed description of my MEPS experience in New Orleans, Louisiana. It is not sugar coated, and his highly detailed. I hope potential recruits find this helpful.
I arrived at the Double Tree Hotel in New Orleans around 7:00 PM that night. Having driven myself, I parked in the neighboring garage (which turned out to be free parking). Armed with a backpack containing my information packet and a change of clothes, I entered the very nice lobby and approached the information desk. The lady behind the counter sent me to another desk for MEPS check-ins.
The man behind this desk wasn't as nice. He reminded me of an evil Roy (from "Wings"). "Siddown, I'll be with you in a second," he said. After a few minutes, he asked my name and handed me a clipboard with a form on it. "Read everything and sign at the bottom."
I did and signed. The note said, in effect, don't leave the hotel, be in your room by 10, don't drink, don't do drugs, don't cause trouble.
"Here's your key. Sit over there and wait for a briefing," he stated, pointing to a cluster of couches in the corner of the hotel lobby. Already seated were a few others, mostly female. A petite girl was holding a Marine Corps packet. Two others were clutching U.S. Army National Guard folders. Another fellow approached and took a seat, U.S. Army packet in hand.
Soon, "Roy" approached and loomed over all of us. He handed out more guidelines for the hotel stay, and meal tickets. He then broke into machine gun rapid-fire instructions for the stay, reminding me of a Training Instructor, only without the yelling.
"Read everything I give you because you WILL be held accountable for it, even if I don't cover it. You are permitted only on your own floor, the lobby area, the dining area, the exercise area, and the movie area. A movie plays every 3 hours. If you leave those areas, you will not got to MEPS. If you are not wearing proper attire in the exercise area, you will not go to MEPS. If you behave inappropriately, or wear anything inappropriate, you will not go to MEPS, this includes cutoffs, white T-shirts, obscene material, midriffs, flip-flops or tanktops. Dinner is served until 10:00 PM. It is a buffet. If you do not eat by 10:00 PM, you will not eat. Breakfast is served at 4:15 AM sharp. The bus leaves at 4:45 sharp. If you have not eaten by 4:45, you will not eat. If you are not on the bus by 4:45, you will need to find another way to get to the MEPS, because I will not help you. You must return your room key by 4:15 AM. If you do not, you will not go to MEPS. You may not drink. You may not do drugs. If you do, you will not go to MEPS, and in the case of drugs you will go to jail. Be in your rooms by 10:00. If you are not in your rooms by 10:00 you will not go to MEPS. You may not use the phones in your rooms. There are phones here, here, and here. Wake-up call is at 3:15 AM. That is all."
Me and the tiny Marine Corps girl headed for the elevators to find our rooms. Without thinking, as soon as the door opened we both walked out, soon realizing that it was neither of our floors. We laughed and walked back in.
"You're joining the Marines?" I ask.
"Yes," she said.
After arriving on my (real) floor, I exited and headed for my room, #1130. After sliding the card key, the door opened revealing two full-size beds, a television with wrestling on, and a couple of desks. My roommate had obviously been here before me. I set my bag on the desk, unloaded my meal ticket and packet, and tried to change the channel on the television. (To no avail, as I could not find the remote, never thinking to just use the buttons on the TV).
Regarding the hotel: bring a swimming suit and workout clothes. I didn't, and regretted it. You may have considerable time on your hands. It's a lot more fun swimming than staring at the TV. After 30 minutes of killing time, my roommate entered, glowered at the stranger in his room, and sat on his bed.
"I'm David," I said, extending my hand.
"Tom," he replied, weakly shaking my hand. (Name changed to protect the innocent).
Then nothing. He was certainly quiet, and I wasn't interested in preserving a sinking conversation, so I excused myself and headed for the restaurant on the 14th floor.