Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Never A Dull Moment
Never a dull moment. I was going to head out to lunch, but there is now a fuel tanker truck on fire parked next to our DFAC (Cafeteria). Hmmm, coincidence…. I hope that’s all it is. If it all goes up in flames I’ll be snacking on MRE’s for the next few months. Oh well, now I have all the time in the world… or at least 30 minutes… to write.
Nothing much happening here. I am now the ‘Old Timer’ around here since I’m going on four weeks and everyone else is brand new. It wasn’t fun saying goodbye to the friends I had met over the last few weeks as they transitioned out, but the advantage to coming in first is that I’m going to be the first one to leave. That said, now everyone is coming to me with questions and needing help, so I do my best to pretend I know what I’m doing.
I was up on the rooftop again a few nights ago, and it was my first time up since the rocket hit last week. I figured it was safe, but after about 30 minutes we got hit with two rockets. Nothing close to me, but as soon as I heard them hit I was back on the bottom floor. I swear I’m a rocket magnet. I’ve been through too many attacks in just 3 weeks.
I’ve been doing my best to work out at the Army gym whenever I have a free moment. So far so good, but I’ve got a lot of work to do. I had forgotten how nice it was to work out. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day, you tend to forget to take care of yourself now and then. If anything, I want to be healthy for my family. I don’t want to be some slug who dies because he's out of shape, leaving his kids fatherless. Having no fast food around here helps as well. We do have a burger king, which we call ‘Hadji-King’, but everyone says it tastes funny so I won’t go there. I did try the Pizza Hut, but the meatlovers pizza must have had camel or something. It just didn’t taste right. The only way I can describe it was that it tasted like Kuwait smelled... 'nough said.
We have LNs, or ‘Local Nationals,’ who come in and clean our building daily. It’s a father-son team, and the kid always reminds me of my brother Joey. He’s tall with funny hair. It’s amazing though that he’s only 15 years old. I chat with him now and then, and his English is pretty good. We had someone send us hundreds of bags of candy for the troops, so I gave him a bag yesterday and he was thrilled. Both him and his dad are making what most locals would consider a fortune by working here. More power to them… I’m glad they get to work and make good money. I was talking to one of the U.S. civilians who run the gym, and he’s making 80K a year tax free just to sit there and clean gym equipment. I’m in the wrong business. He was a school teacher making 26K w/taxes in Tennessee, but he couldn’t pass up the job offer.
The Kurds are still pouring into the region, trying to get in place for the upcoming census and elections. The little tent city they’re building next to our base is very organized, and it’s amazing how many tents have satellite dishes. They’re still very poor, so the kids are always coming up to our perimeter with grenades and munitions, trying to get money for them. We used to have a buy-back policy and would pay locals for munitions, and it worked very well, but since the kids started coming up to the fences holding stuff that could kill them we’ve cut back on giving out money. Now we just hand them water or an occasional MRE. At least it’s something, but you don’t want to encourage them to keep coming. Just the other day a kid was standing next to the fence banging two grenades together like toys. Scary…..
We have a bizarre coming to the base this weekend, so my goal is to buy some stuff and send it back home. If anyone has a request for anything please send it my way. I’m not sure what they’ll have, but it should be interesting stuff.
Last Saturday was the third anniversary of the September 11th attacks. I was charged with organizing a memorial, and we had a good turn out for it. I bought a flag and had it raised, and then folded up. It’ll be something special to keep at home when I get back. As for the anniversary itself, I thought about the tragedy and how horrible everything was that day, but then I thought about what we’ve done since then. Over the three years since the attack we’ve liberated 55 million people, ended a tyrannical and oppressive theocracy, removed a murderous dictator and his regime, improved the infrastructures and healthcare systems of two countries, opened schools so that both young boys and girls are now educated, and in a few short months those 55 million people will have the opportunity to vote in national elections for the first time. Someone said, and I forget who it was, that from tragedy comes opportunity. How true that is.
Okay, the fire is out, so we can now go and eat lunch.
posted by El Capitan at 6:44 AM