IF you’ve ever collaborated with Corus Kids TV’s director of original productions, Bonita Siegel, you know first-hand that she takes her work seriously and approaches projects with a no-nonsense determination that’s somewhat militaristic. And some of you, especially those who attended the highly entertaining ‘Trading Places’ session at KidScreen Summit this year, probably already know that she spent a couple of years serving in the Canadian Army Reserves in her 20s. But what you may not know is that she got in it for the guys and the cash, and stayed in it for the guns and the parties.
Siegel’s sister, who spent most of her career in the army and only recently retired from active duty, was really the catalyst for the whole thing. While Siegel was studying communication arts at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Canada, she ran out of money one year and needed to find a job in a hurry. Her sister offered to put her to work on the army base doing administrative stuff, but Siegel had reservations because she wasn’t really interested in enlisting. However, since the basic training course that all new recruits have to complete was already underway, the plan was that Siegel would sign up, do the work for her sister, and then withdraw her application before the next course started.
It would have worked, too, except an over-zealous officer rounded up all the recruits one night and announced that the army planned to fast-track their processing. So Siegel had to pack her bags and ship out to join the very same basic training course she thought she’d so cleverly sidestepped.
It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, though, because she really enjoyed the experience. Sure, the rigid obsession with order and obedience seemed a little crazy, but Siegel met some really great people – and the male recruits, who were in superb physical condition, certainly weren’t a drawback.
Once she’d completed her training, she joined the reserves in Hamilton and served in the mess for NCMs (non-commissioned members), where she organized social events. She was much enamored with a particular sergeant at the time, and conveniently, her sister was in charge of the social calendar for the officers’ mess. So in cahoots once again, they worked on setting up a lot of pizza mixers that got the two groups together.
Besides the friends she made during her two years of service, Siegel’s hands-down favorite thing about army life was target practice. Although it was quite difficult to hold the rifle in a prone position and squeeze off a shot that didn’t go straight into the ground (Siegel is only 5’3′ tall, after all), she enjoyed the challenge. And she had much better luck with machine guns, especially the Sten model, a rapid-fire weapon that you can shoot standing up.
So the next time you have to break the news that your delivery is going to be a little delayed, just remember that you’re dealing with someone who’s professionally trained for combat and who knows a thing or two about artillery. I’m just saying…it might be wise to try a delicate approach.