Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Quite the start to the day over here in Afghanistan, picture this… 15 min into my shift. I have just accepted an emergency message to work on and deliver, Ingrid is on the phone with someone who is trying to start a message on their uncle (which we do not do except with extraordinary circumstances) and one of our volunteers is in the office sorting through the at least dozen packages of abandoned mail that we picked up from the post office yesterday. As you may recall we have been accepting the abandoned care packages from the post office and shipping them out to the Forward bases, many of which do not even have a base exchange (any kind of store). Then iIn walks a contractor from Flour, agitated and in a hurry saying he needs to know exactly where to put our new books shelves… err bookshelves? Since Ingrid is on the phone I leave the case and go outside to realize that he is trying to deliver two 3x5 and 5x5 bookshelves for a joint project with the Green Bean coffee and the Pax Terminal to our tiny office instead of their respective locations at the Green Bean and Pax Terminal. Since I am not the lead on the project I couldn’t tell him where they needed to be taken at the other locations, but he is insistent that he is dropping them off here. As the situation escalates I go back inside and ask Ingrid if she can deal with the bookshelves and I will take over her call. So pandemonium ensues and she tries to figure out the shelves while I try and convince the person on the phone that we cannot pass this message for a non-immediate family member. Amidst all this, the volunteer is quietly trying to attract our attention. Since I’m preoccupied on the phone she finally manages to snag Ingrid from the book shelf debacle (which the guys are preceeding to unload onto our back porch…and mind you three men are struggling to move them).

The volunteer motions to Ingrid what she’s found in the box and suddenly a new sense of urgency settles over the room. Ingrid picks up the other office line, looks at me and asks, “Are you almost done there? Once I make this call we are going to have to evacuate right away.” Errrrr WHAT?! I distractedly manage to finish the call, peer over the desk and into the box…inside is a pale army green ammo box with the word “Pressure Release Valve – Do Not Open”. The thing could not have looked more dangerous if it had the words “bomb” written on it. I quickly started gathering my things from the office as Ingrid called the MPs and they told us to evacuate. We called the Baghdad station to cover our messages and then we proceeded to assemble our team and alert others out and about in the camp that they needed to evacuate.

Fortunately, we did not have to wait as long as we did with our other evacuation before the verdict came back…the box contained radios. Delightful! So after an hour’s fun, it was back to the office to set up shop again (and I suspect that will be the end of our accepting the abandoned mail!) and then Terra and I left to run some errands for the day. We went to the PX and picked up our pressed uniforms, some charcoal for a small BBQ we want to have, did some window shopping at the jewelry store and then headed to the post office to pick up the day’s mail. Once we arrived we realized that the shopping cart we had ordered to carry items around the hospital had arrived so we had to haul that mamma jahamba to the truck. Easily the best part of the day was the care package from my boyfriend that survived it’s multi-ocean trip from Scotland to the U.S. then back across the ocean and through the Middle East to Afghanistan. And still the Cadbury eggs made it! Because the APO label on my mailing address is technically a US address all my mail, no matter where it comes from in the world will go to the U.S. first before coming to me, hence the multi-trans Atlantic crossing.

Knock on wood things are quiet at the office now (and relatively uneventful – apart from the fact that I went to smell the new conditioner I bought at the PX…and ended up squirting it up my nose :-)

All in a day’s work I guess?!

1 comment:

HerbalSW said...

Michelle...
What can Maggie, Hannah and I send to you for a Care package. Coffee from Starbucks, candy, juggling balls...I was going to say peanut butter then caight myself.
what would make those phone calls easier???
Catherine