Sunday, January 09, 2005

On the Road Again

My guitar day off went pretty well. In giddy anticipation for what was ahead of me I woke up at the crack of 2:00 p.m., wiped the sleep from my eyes and picked up the guitar. I planned ahead the day before and brought home a sandwich from the chow hall so I didn't have to wake up and walk there for lunch. I got a couple of chords into "Rock the not so free world day" (hereafter referred to as RTNSFWD, see previous blog)when there was a knock on my door. I was playing through headphones so it couldn't be the noise. I hesitated to answer because my boss is notorious for having me come in on my day off. I've vowed never to answer my door on my day off again, but I usually get tricked. For instance, last week I was enjoying a good early morning snooze when I heard what I could have sworn was a car alarm. I was at that point of sleep where you aren't sure if you're awake or not so I figured I was dreaming. Besides, there aren't any cars around here to have alarms anyway. In reality it was a new siren they're trying out on the Humvee's to get traffic out of the way during patrols and convoys. Believe it or not some of the people around here don't get out of the way when they see Humvees and Tanks driving right down the middle of the road with guns trained right on their car. However in my dream I thought it was my car alarm. As I'm dreaming this there's someone knocking on my door. Still in dream land it makes perfect sense to me that someone is knocking on my door in Anytown USA so I can turn off my car alarm. No problem, I get up, thinking I'm back home, and answer the door. Imagine my surprise when I see my boss at the door and a Humvee in the background setting off this siren to see if it works. Tricked I tell ya!! I swore not to answer the door but she somehow invaded my dreams and tricked me into answering the door. Trixy Hobbitses. So, not only did I work the regular 12 hour noon to midnight shift on my day off, but it started at 8:00 a.m. making it a 16 hour shift. Nice day off huh? Anyway, Back to RTNSFWD, there's a knock on my door. You can understand my hesitancy to answer it. But something in the back of my mind told me it was OK. I spent the next few seconds mentally battling the curiosity of what was on the other side of the door versus the chilling possibility it could be her trying to suck every last bit of enjoyment out of this war. What to do, what to do. ARGHHHH I answered the door. It was my First SGT. Odd, he's never been to my door that I can remember. We'll get back to him in a minute. Note to self, quit answering door on day off.

When the Brigade that I'm attached to got here, they all signed up for when they'd like to go on leave. During your rotation here in Iraq the Army tries to send you home on leave roughly half way through. Obviously not everyone will be exactly half way or there would be nobody left here. Since I didn't come with the Brigade I didn't get to pick my leave date. I just got put into whatever slot was left. Mine happened to fall at the end of March. That was pretty cool. It was close to half way. It would break up the rotation into smaller somewhat equal more manageable pieces. So I thought. Back to my First SGT.

Knock Knock Knock. "Hey, First SGT, what can I do for you?" said the eager to please, always diligent SGT.

"SGT ______, Pack your stuff you're going on leave on the 10th." huffed the, I don't care what happens in your life personification of the Army, First SGT.

"First SGT there must be some mistake, my leave is in March." replied the never complaining model soldier.

"Nope, you're a filler, you don't get to chose when your leave is."

"But you were the one that told me it was in March."

"Well, It's now do you want to go or not?" Said the, at this point, impatient First SGT

"Do I have a choice of now or later?" implored the desperate but good looking soldier hoping he could go a little later to break up the rotation more evenly.

"Sure you have a choice. Now or never."

So, I'll be on a plane home for 15 days tomorrow morning. Don't get me wrong, I'm very excited to go home, it's just that now it could be a whole year before I'm home again. I just got here. I mentally prepared to go at this thing a little differently. Oh well, What are you gunna to do. My wife is going to tell the kids that she's picking me up and it's far away so it'll take a few days. Then she's going to pick me up at the airport and we're going to stay in a cabin in the mountains for a few days. That way we can see each other and then I can give the kids my full undivided attention. I don't think the kids know yet so lets keep that on the QT.

the way they work the leave seems more than fair. They pay for all the travel and don't count it in your leave time. Once you get to the main airport near where you live you sign in. Then your 15 days starts the day after that. So if you hustle you really get 16 days for the price of 15. A shrewd bargain in any market. And in true Army fashion you don't know exactly when you'll be home until you get there. You don't have an itinerary, you just get the next set of travel documents as you get to each leg of the trip along the way. It's like the amazing race. You know there's an end, you just don't know when or where. I can't imagine why the military is having trouble getting people to re-enlist. Speaking of which, there's a re-enlistment bonus in my unit of $15,000 tax free if you re-enlist while you're here. They announced that and then looked at me and said "SGT, that doesn't apply to you because your IRR. Would you like to re-enlist anyway?" "Um Yeah, I'm going to have to get back to you on that one." How does not now and not ever sound. Not to mention I've already said no, that's why I'm in the IRR and not still in the ARMY. But, that zero dollar re-enlistment bonus sure does sound nice. Especially when everyone else is getting $15,000. By the way, would I have to pay taxes on that zero dollars? The Army, you gotta love em.

So, if you planned on stopping by the trailer to visit or jam or something, we'll have to reschedule. Just leave a note on the door and I'll have my people call your people.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woo-Hoo! Your coming home, I know your wife is sooo excited that's pretty much the first thing she told me this morning. I hope you enjoy your time in the mountains together, I bet it will be beautiful and refreshing, I love this time of year. We can't wait to see you again, even though it hasn't been as long as expected, God is in control, and He must want you home during this time for a reason. See ya soon! scm

1:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you are getting to go home. I know it's tough the way some things are handed down but I know the family will be glad to see ya. Hope you enjoy your time away from it all in the mountains. I know the view will be beautiful. I know the kids can't wait to see ya either.TM

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just so you know, I'm still reading these posts. I hope you're enjoying your vacation together. Your wife was pretty excited about seeing you again, but you're not allowed to try to get a bunch of stuff done around the house while you're home, okay?! Just relax and enjoy your family and just being home! We can't wait to see you! M. Pads Coach

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When pressured again for the free sign up tell them your mother said No, no, no! You are not allowed. God has a special plan for your life and even though Moses took 10 when they were free you are not allowed this free round.

7:12 AM  

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