Thursday, December 02, 2004

My First Day Off

Welcome to my first day off. I thought I'd share the day with you so you could see some of the things that go on over here. First some administrative information.

I have to move out of my room. So far I've had a room to myself and I thought as long as I kept quiet about it I'd still have a room to myself. However, in an effort to make the soldiers happy and comfortable the Army decided to switch out the one inch thick foam mattresses on our beds with a very well meaning but much more uncomfortable version of a regular twin mattress. In order to do that a guy from KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root, they run everything over here) came around to see how many mattress were needed. Bada bing bada boom my evil plans were foiled. However, the room I'm moving into, though occupied by another person, is larger than the one I'm in now. It's the same size trailer, but instead of being divided into three rooms it's only divided into two. I'm surprised they don't make us put three guys in it. I hope no one from KBR reads this and gets any ideas. All in all I think we're probably the most comfortable soldiers in Iraq. Notice I said Soldiers and not Airmen. The Airforce is historically much more comfortable than the Army. If you're thinking about enlisting and you enjoy comfort keep that in mind. Also do a little research on the IRR, you might change your mind. Anyway, I'll be moving today.

Woke up about 10:00 a.m. My 12 hour shifts 6 days a week have turned out to be more like 13 to 13 and a half hours. For some reason known only to God and the Army my noon to midnight shift starts at 11:10 and ends about 12:30. I guess it's just easier to say noon to midnight.

Showered and shaved and headed to breakfast (lunch). On the way I dropped off my laundry. KBR has little trailers around where you can drop it off. A nice lady helps you inventory your dirty laundry and fills out a receipt for you to come back in two days to get your laundry. Not a bad deal really, it's free. They take the laundry off in your laundry bag to some laundry fairies somewhere and they magically reappear two days later clean as a whistle.

Got to the chow hall a few minutes early along with about a thousand other people. I stood in line behind a soldier talking about how she couldn't pass her GED or the ASVAB but the recruiter let her in anyway. She seemed pretty proud. Had Pizza and cranberry sauce with some red gatorade and a glass of ice tea. On the way out I grabbed two oatmeal raisin cookies and saw some guys I know. I told them about having to move and asked if they got new mattresses yet. After I told them the story they both, not having room mates, decided their imaginary room mates would be out on patrol if anyone asked.

Next on the agenda was a call to my wife. I don't usually call her this time of day because it's middle of the night for her but I had an important financial transaction pending and it needed immediate attention. More on that later. The phones and internet have been down for a little while for various reasons and I really needed to get in touch with her because she has all the money, Oh yeah, I love her too, can't live without her, I'd give my life for her, but she has all the money. I woke her up and got the proper approval to pursue my plan further. With a smile on my face and a spring in my step I hoofed it to the finance building conveniently located about 1000 miles from anything. Right next to the post office. You can eat and get shot at just about anywhere you want, but if you need money or mail you'd better have a vehicle or a free day of walking.

Money is an odd commodity here in camp. Cash rules the world but everyone has direct deposit so nobody actually has cash. The PX takes credit and debit but you can only get $20.00 back. If you need money you have to go to finance. You can draw $350.00 casual pay per month that is taken out of your next check, or you can cash a $250.00 check I think once a week. I never need this much money except on this wonderful momentous occasion. I got to finance in a little under a week and a half, really more like 30 minutes. Signed in and waited in line. There were so many people in line you'd think they were giving out money or something. When it was my turn I took out the maximum $350.00 and folded it safely into my black nylon wallet with handy Velcro closure. Velcro is on everything but it's not really all that tactical. You better hope you're not trying to sneak up on someone and realize your extra magazine of ammo is in it's little Velcro pouch on your body armor. Anyway, money in hand I went to find the man we'll call lieutenant "hook me up". He works in our brigade HQ. Which is about half way back from "1000 miles from nowhere".

Found the LT and handed him 300 cold hard cash in exchange for a receipt. LT "hook me up" struck up a deal with some hajis to get us a satellite with internet access. It's supposed to be 512 up 512 down for those of you who know anything about bandwidth. I have my doubts about the 512 up part though. Anyway, it's going to be a ton faster than the dial up service I have back home. I still can't believe I'm in Baghdad fighting a war and I have a cell phone and will soon have internet access in my room. If you didn't get shot at, and they paid worth a darn I might think about sticking around. And if it wasn't far from home, and you didn't have to run, or listen to people 10 years younger than you with no education tell you what to do, or if it wasn't the military. On second thought, I think I'll come home when this is done. Anyway, I paid my 300 for my share of the equipment and the first three months of service. Actually this covers me and my new room mate. He's going to give me his half later. I believe he will because when I was talking to him I was holding a loaded weapon. Who lies to a man with a loaded weapon? After that the fee will be $30.00 per month per room. A paltry sum. The plan is to be able to talk to my wife and kids over the web cam. It won't cost anything for that. Opposed to anywhere from 30-60 cents a minute elsewhere.

After the exchange I stopped by our company HQ to pick up my Humvee license that was supposedly ready two days ago. No big surprise, it wasn't ready.

I'm not sure if I'm getting used to a level of dirtyness or if they really keep things clean here, but I made the following observation. After leaving the Company area I stopped off at one of the port-o-podies to drop the kids off at the pool. Before I could stop myself I thought, "Wow, this one's really nice." No sooner had I thought that than I looked at myself, figuratively of course, and thought, "did you just say this port-o-pody is nice?" In all actuality it was one of the more satisfying port-o-pody experiences I think I've had. I think I'm going to vary my walking pattern to work so I can pass that one more often. Maybe when I get internet access in my room and there's any interest I may even post some pictures. We'll see.

Well, That brings me to the computer lab where I am now. I checked my e-mail and started in on the blog. It's only 3:00 p.m. so I've got a lot of time left today. I'll probably get a haircut and pick up the laundry I dropped off a few days ago. I didn't get it when I dropped off the other because I didn't want to carry it all over camp. Also, I'm not sure why, you're not allowed to bring any bags of any type into the chow hall. That's unfortunate because it's in the same area as the PX. So if you buy anything at the PX you have to carry it back to your room and then walk all the way back to the chow hall to eat. I'm sure there's a good reason. Wait, no I'm not.

After that I'll pack all my stuff and move into my new room. I've been going to the gym every night after work but I think I'll skip it today. I've really been working hard on my upper body, and I'm really seeing results. Have you seen the movie Troy? Well Brad Pitt plays the part of Achilles. There's more than one time when he takes his shirt off and flashes his big pecs and rippled abs. Yeah, mine don't look anything like that. I usually get home about 12:30 or 12:45 and go work out in the gym until about 2:00 a.m. Then I shower and go to bed. I'm not sure what my room mates schedule is but I'm sure we'll work it out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are histerical. How are the "kids" by the way? YIKES! Times sure have changed from other deployments. One thing has stayed the same. The wife is always the purse when the husband is in the military. Even when the dads retired, it stays the same. Suppose you can't change 20+ years of training. Papa just recently got a raise in his allowance. Hope the Mrs. wasn't grumpy when you called at night. That did seem to be an important purchase however.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bummer you had to move out of your room, but God knows. Chances are your roomate does not know Jesus, so part of your mission field will be right in your own room. Hope everything works out with the internet web cam, that would really be awesome for you and your family. As for posting pictures of the port-o-pottie I think I'll pass on that and take your word that it was nice. Still Praying for you and your family, SCM

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey soldier! My sister and dad told me to check out your blog and I have to say your great attitude and humor is awesome. My hubby is going over in a few weeks and I'm hoping he can get a cell phone too. It's amazing what conveniences are over there. His FOB is said to have a Starbucks and a few fast food joints. Amazing! Count one vote for the port-o-potty picture. JG from NWI.

10:05 AM  

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