Friday, 15 August 2008

Arabian Nights

Happy Friday!

That doesn't have much significance for me anymore with no days off, but I can still remember the excitement or relief the day inspired! Life over here has begun to slip into what is called the "GroundHog Day Effect" usually accompanied by a sigh and an eye-roll. It refers to the endless repetition of days revolving around the same work, the same weather, the same surroundings. That being said, my team of four seems to be holding up well and we make an extra effort to make the days feel different. Lately though fate has thrown us a few curve balls that have made for some unexpected variation.

First off, about 2 weeks ago I exited my trailer for the usual hike to the bathroom when I noticed a sign on my door that read "Occupant, you have until August 8 to come to the Mayor's cell and sign for another room." On further investigation I saw that one of these signs was posted on almost every door in my row. Knowing that my room was secured until December, I rolled my eyes at the obvious error that had been made and the fact that I would have to truck over to the Mayor's cell to fix it. Boy, was I in for a shock when the Staff Sergeant a the Mayor's cell began by saying "Ahh yes, sorry for the trouble but we have a CID (Criminal Investigation Division) unit coming in and they need that front row of trailers for easy access by the MPs (military police)"...What?! And I just had the whole room debugged!  He informed me that I had a week to move and that I would be in the same "neighborhood" so to speak. Well that night, after my shift, I went to inspect the new trailer. I didn't bring a flashlight coming straight from work and after finding the trailer I fumbled with the key in the dark for almost 5 minutes. For the life of me I could not get the key into the hole. So I hiked all the way back to my trailer, got a flashlight, trooped back and after another several minutes of fumbling became convinced this was the wrong key. The next morning my teammate came by and goes over to try the key, definitely not mine. So we head back to billeting, explain that it's not the right key and then are directed to go back to the trailer and wait for the locksmith who proceeded to change the door handle and locks. And we venture inside the trailer...pardon the language, but it was a sh*t show. Hadn't been cleaned probably since we'd invaded. Sticky stains marked the floor, grime and crud in the wardrobes, trash strewn about the room , a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling, night stands whose drawers were broken and hanging off the tracks, a bed frame supported by cinder blocks...I went back over to the Mayor's cell, this time with smoke coming out my ears and fire bolts out my eyes, and wrangled the pug nosed, beady eyed sergeant into picking up his walkie-talkie and requesting a cleaning crew. The long and the short of it is that while the cleaning crew made a dent in my pig pen, The Brawny Man, Mr. Clean and I attacked the room on hands and knees for some time. The move itself was relatively uneventful and I can now say I am pleased with the outcome...only to hear yesterday that there are whisperings of moving us into an entirely different section of the base. Sigh.

Our other curve ball came just two nights ago when I finished my shift at 3am and went to start the car. After turning the key in the ignition, I began to get that sickening feeling as the control panel lit up, but the car didn't start: check battery, check gages, oil pressure low, Oh dear. After multiple more attempts, consulting my teammate, opening the hood to find a glowing green battery light and a few curse words, we resigned ourselves that the car wasn't going anywhere. I gathered myself for a rather heart-racing walk back to my trailer over a mile from the office in the war zone darkness. We spent a chaotic 12 hours trying to figure out how we would manage the walk to and from the office, getting food and the blazing heat when we somehow finagled a car from a sympathetic sergeant. Our vehicle is still at the shop, but we have the replacement at least until Saturday.

I also haven't mentioned the Wild Kingdom that is apparently our office. We have several lizards living in the trailer and since I can't tell them apart I have named them all Bill. I have made several attempts at catching the "Bills" and making him my pet but I have been successful as of yet :-(  I want an animal to love ... a lizard's probably not my first choice though. We also had a delightful experience the other day with the many creepy crawlies here. My teammate Kris and I were doing case work in the office when all of a sudden there is a sharp scream from the phone center. We slowly look at each other and then Kris gets up and walks out to investigate. When she doesn't return promptly I approach the door and peer my head around the corner. On the phone directly in front of me, crawling up the handle as though trying to figure out how to make his call, was a white spider about the size of a silver dollar. Everyone in the canteen was frozen including the macho warriors with their guns, fixated on our creepy caller. I jokingly asked the guys to shoot it which broke the paralysis spell and finally one of the guys used the barrel of his gun to sweep it off the phone while another proceeded to stomp on in, which mind you, given the size of that thing made for a juicy aftermath!

A final story worth sharing involved the cousin (whom I'd never met) of a close friend of mine, who stopped in the office and asked my team leader if I would be able to take part in a Purple Heart Ceremony and pin on his Combat Action Badge! I, of course, was most excited about this prospect until it dawned on us the ceremony was "outside the wire" and the request was immediately shot down. We are, under no circumstances, to leave the base. An exceedingly frustrating rule. Alas. 

So that's an update for now. On a final note, I've cut 6 inches off my hair. Not exactly my length of preference but far exceeding in terms of practicality. We didn't have any real grooming sheers so we used rather dull office scissors and I ended up finishing it off with a knife. Rather barbaric sounding I know, but out here, just sort of adds to the experience!
Hope you are enjoying the smell of grass, the feel or rain and the Olympics!


Britt said...

An exceedingly frustrating rule, no doubt. It's exciting to read your blog - though I was a little taken aback by the hair-shearing episode... might I suggest the Filipinos at the beauty shop by the PX for future haircuts? They get done cutting and give you a shoulder massage. Very nice.

Michelle said...

I'm trying to limit the spending of money to pizza and smoothies on Saturdays with Greta. Greta's scissors were sharp enough, but that evening I wanted to trim off a bit more and had nothing handy ;-) Leatherman = problem solved