Saturday, February 25, 2006

Can't Fight Fate

23 February 2006

My embassy flight out of Baghdad went without a hitch. The C-130 rolled in, disembarked passengers and equipment and we were hot-loaded directly on with the props still running. I was kind of disappointed that I had to fly like baggage on another C-130, but then again, maybe I’ve been too spoiled recently by flying so many times in and out of Baghdad on C17’s.

You see, on C-130’s you’re sitting in mesh cargo netting for seats, facing knee to knee with the people across the isle from you. Then try finding somewhere to stick your carry-on, your vest (if you choose to take it off) and your helmet. Did I mention that there aren’t overhead bins to store all that stuff you’ve decided to bring with you? It’s not comfortable and it’s not even economy-class. I’m not complaining, just trying to clarify the accommodations for those that haven’t ever had the pleasure of traveling “military fashion.”

C17’s on the other hand usually have pallets of airline-type seats loaded into the cargo-hold and locked down. The seats are a bit narrower and smaller than economy class, but I’ve not been on a flight yet that had every seat taken either. So I guess if you fully load a C17 and pack it too the gills with military “cargo” (people), it would probably be as uncomfortable as flying in a C-130.

Also should mention that since the C-130 has props and the C17’s have jet engines, there is a slight difference in travel time from Baghdad to Ali Al Salem of about 90 minutes on the C-130 versus about 60 minutes for the C17. But, either way, we made it into Ali Al Salem, Kuwait in time for dinner.

One of the things I hadn’t mentioned before now was that two days ago, I received an email from another old Air Force buddy of mine that I was stationed with in Germany. Dan ended up marrying a very nice German girl from Kalkar and is getting ready to retire soon…but not before he got sent to Afghanistan. Well, he got to Afghanistan and found that they needed him in a slot at (go ahead, I know that you’ve guessed it) Ali Al Salem, Kuwait!

So once I got checked into through the contractor’s cell (and called the ITT T3 weenies to be verbally abused that they aren’t my personal taxi and to put my righteous hiney on the bus to Arifjan. They’re such a pleasant lot) Dan and I went over to the chow hall and had dinner and the chance to catch up on the last 19 years. It has actually been kind of fun to have had the chance to run into people “in-theater” here from my past. There really must be something to that whole fate thing after all, huh? We all run in tighter circles than one might care to admit.

Stopped at the SATO (please don’t ask me what the heck that military acronym stands for cuz I just don’t know right now!) to see if I might be able to move my flight out of Kuwait to Frankfurt up a day or two. As it was explained to me, because of some holiday or another here, flights are all overbooked leaving Kuwait. Too bad, so sad, enjoy your stay in Kuwait! Guess I’ll be leaving on my scheduled flight on Friday night, really Saturday morning at 0215 to Frankfurt.

I caught the next bus to Arifjan at 2015 and finally arrived on base at around 2200. Kuwait isn’t that big of a country, but the only way that the trip from Ali Al Salem to Arifjan could have been longer is if the bus was running on rims! Yes folks, on location from Kuwait; it’s “Speed 15 – Arifjan Hell” starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock.

We made it to Arifjan on the slow bus…not to be confused with the “short bus.” Yes, I guess that I was a bit moody, so it didn’t help that being the stubborn so-and-so that I am, instead of getting on another bus to take me from Zone 1 to Zone 6, I decided I was going to hoof it…although I didn’t quite remember the way. So some nice lady stops when she saw me wheeling my suitcase down the sidewalk by the post office and asked if I was going to Zone 6. Why yes, I said. So she told me to hop in and she’d drive me down.

That was a lucky break since it wasn’t the ¼ mile I’d been told by the Army guys on the bus, but about ¾ of a mile! I thanked her profusely for her assistance and checked into the “ITT Hilton” (that term IS purely meant to be taken as sarcasm and not to be confused with any upscale hotels that have a pool, sauna and spa, okay) also lovingly known to us as Building 1465. It ain’t the Ritz, but it is has an open bunk or two.

After getting a bunk picked out and dropping my suitcase, I headed over to the PX for sheets for the bunk (because newspapers spread on the mattress, although warm, make too much noise when you roll over in your sleep) along with a few odds and ends AND stopped for a real cup of java at Starbuck’s. Real coffee is sooooo nice again. Don’t get me wrong, I only take the Green Bean’s Coffee Shop name in vein when I’m away from it and Victory. Once I’m back on Victory, all’s forgiven…only cuz it’s the only coffee shop in town!

So this morning, I wake up around 9 and discover one of the guys I used to work with at Victory who went up to Balad is leaving and out processing. Another guy I worked with at the Tech Control on Victory who left last year is here too…in processing. You just never know what the wind will blow in around here! Maybe I’ve been here too long. I guess if you stay long enough on the contract, everything and everyone comes around again.

Shock of shocks, I had the opportunity to go shopping again. Now understand here, that I’m really not a “clothes-horse” (an affectionate term used by us for one of our collegues…a guy, mind you, who is since gone, but brought about a month’s worth of clothes to Iraq and changed clothes twice a day!)…but I decided that I have to have some long-sleeve shirts since Germany is just a bit cooler than Baghdad…Imagine that! Besides, what better way to spend time after being completely grossed out during lunch consisting of a Deluxe Burger and Onion rings from Hurly’s, oops, I think it’s supposed to be Hardies, but I like the unintentional relation of the action-verb combo; “to hurl” after eating that trash.

BTW, have you seen “Supersize Me”? If not, you really should. You’ll never eat fast food again! (Just in case that ice/toilet water story from last week didn’t do it for you!) For my more sensitive readers, I about became incontinent with my urinary control and wet my pants laughing when he hurled out the car window! Is it me, or is it just plain freakish that those Mickey D’s French fries never got any mold on them when stored in that glass container for over one month?????!!!! Things that make you go, “Hmmmm.”

Speaking of plastic food, for dinner tonight, I went over to Kentucky Fried Greesebombs and had deep-fried, breaded, larded chicken lips and other chicken by-product pieces pressed and formed into strips, complimented with a sugar-water sauce containing tomato by-products considered a vegetable substitute for school lunch programs by a former dead president back in the 1980’s. Mmmmmm-good. You can probably hear my arteries and heart valves clogging all the way back home. I’m thinking I’m not missing fast food all that much after tasting it again. Maybe the chow hall isn’t such a bad thing after all!

I think after I leave Iraq, I’m going to go live on a kibbutz and raise sprouts and other organic foods, make homemade goats milk yogurt and be a misfit of society! Makes me wonder how I’m going to fit back into the World when I leave here.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?