Operation: GTFO (Day 215)

Post Paris Depression

I'm not in Paris anymore.

I’m not in Paris anymore.

I’ve been back from leave for about 14 days now.  A commenter on Trip Advisor asked me how I was getting along with my “post-Paris depression.”  I think that is the exact disease from which I’m suffering.  With a little bit of I don’t give a shit-itis.  This is precisely what happened to me during the last deployment when I came back from R&R—my ability to care about anything went from 0 to -15.  I would say that I’m sitting at a solid -20.

Of course it did not help that my battle buddy went on leave the day I got back.  I swear to God, I never thought it humanly possible to miss somebody so much, and we ain’t family or in love!  It’s just sitting in this office for a week straight with these two lunatics just really wore on my nerves.  It’s lucky they do have conversation or I would have committed suicide.  It’s just that they have a lot of issues.  Sometimes I feel like I’m having a conversation with a schizophrenic and/or my grandfather.

I suffered through a set of meetings where I realized that I don’t actually like any of these people.  No, let me take that back.  I’ve known since jump I didn’t like these people.  I think I realized how intensely I don’t like these people.  I remarked to Higher that I found it amazing his ability to deal with all these personalities.  I find it taxing to work with people I consider to be idiots.  He has loads more experience than I do, and maybe one day when I grow up I’ll learn how to function in a society full of buffoons.

The face you make when someone asks you to sit in on yet another meeting.

The face you make when someone asks you to sit in on yet another meeting.

In the last meeting, they thought I was taking notes.  Instead I was planning my post-deployment leave.  Thanks to PDRMA, I might get a week extra of leave.  An initial calculation puts me at 22 days.  I don’t believe anything until it’s in writing, so I’m going to assume I only have two weeks left.  I’m going to take a whirlwind tour of France and the UK.  I want to visit the Champagne region because I never got around to it during my initial leave.  Then I’m going to Paris again, then on to London for a week.

I already plotted out my entire itinerary based on 14 days.  I’m flying Space A into Ramstein and out of Mildenhall.  The only thing I really need are the dates.  Since there’s no way of actually knowing when the fuck I will be paroled from this misery, I will just have to wing it.  I figure I will have a better idea once I actually get on a plane.  Last time it only took me 2.5 days to escape Fort Hood.  It might be last minute and more expensive, but it is better than nothing.

It’s just giving me something to look forward.  For whatever reason going home is not enough of a motivator.  Maybe because there isn’t anything back there waiting for me, and I feel like it would be more of the same old-same old.  Really, I’m on the verge of just quitting everything and becoming one of these Bohemians that work their way around the world doing whatever the fuck they want.

I don't see what's wrong with this lifestyle.

I don’t see what’s wrong with this lifestyle.

I am going to take a page from my battle’s book and backpack—not in the traditional sense, though.  I’m too old for that.  But I might stay in a hostel in Paris because it’ll be so last minute, but when I get to London I’m doing my luxury route.  I’ll consider Scotland if I end up having these 20 days these people claim I’ll have.

Based on an arbitrary calculation I think I have nine more Sundays left.  I think this is the best way to think of it.  Higher said, “We have four paychecks left.”  Who the fuck wants to count dwindling paychecks?  Yeah, almost all of us are going back to jobs so it’s not like we won’t be getting paid ever again, but I can’t be like, “Four paychecks till I stop getting double paychecks.”  Someone else tried to count in hours.  Someone said, “Yeah, I did the calculation and it’s like 2100 more hours.”  I don’t know how accurate the calculation is but seriously, do you really want to count two-thousand, one-hundred, fifty-six hours, nineteen minutes and thirty-seven seconds?  Uh.  Nope.

Forget counting days too.  If I go with the rough estimate of nine weeks, then that’s like 63 days.  That’s still too much.  Nine Sundays sounds more reasonable and it doesn’t seem like a long time.

Operation: GTFO (Day 195)

As the Deployment Turns

Fail is not a strong enough word.

Fail is not a strong enough word.

I begin this with three words:  Command. Climate.  Survey.

Anyone who has been in the Army longer than 15 minutes has taken one of these.  You’re required to take one within a certain amount of days (National Guard) of receiving a new commander and then every year after that.

The survey asks questions like:

How do you feel about your unit?

Do you trust the members of your unit?

Does your Commander exemplify the SHARP program?

If you’ve ever taken one of these things, you can tell the Army is trying to steer you to answering a certain way.  The last two surveys I’ve taken are heavy on SHARP.  This last survey, every other question had to do with SHARP.

How often have you been sexually assaulted?

Do you sexually assault other Soldiers?

Does the Commander support sexual assault?

From my perspective, and my perspective only, there haven’t been any SHARP violations, and I felt the survey was unduly geared towards SHARP—as if nothing else is important.  Do not misunderstand me:  the Army does have a problem with sexual assault, but there are many problems with the Army.  Every problem should be given adequate attention.

When the survey asked me, “Are you deployed?” of course I answered yes.  Then it asked me, “What is your least favourite part of the deployment?”

This is where I went insane.  It was like something just snapped inside my head.  I really dislike these surveys because I do not feel like they affect much change.  I am forced to respond and tell you my feelings but then everything is filed away somewhere, never to be heard of again.

The thing asked several more questions, and I really dug down deep and said exactly how I felt.  I also mentioned names (or rather, position), because I don’t like to deal in, well, there was this one guy who might have said this… That really isn’t helpful.  I wish I hadn’t answered the questions so quickly because something did happen a few months ago that really bothered me and I forgot to mention it.  The moment has passed, and like I just said, it doesn’t matter anyway.  Nothing is going to change.

The results of the survey were far worse than I could ever imagined.

In all my years of being in the Army, I’ve never had to go and talk to Equal Opportunity representative about anything.  Even that incident at AIT didn’t cause a furor as this.  This EO Lady (that’s how I’ll refer to her) showed up to bring the hammer down.  She broke us all up by gender, rank and race and we had to go into these focus groups to talk about our feelings and the stuff that we wrote on the survey.

And just keep on asking them.

And just keep on asking them.

She did not say, “Hey, SSG, you wrote that you hate your boss.  Why?”

But she did ask, “How do you feel about SFC So-and-So?  Do you think he is an effective leader?”

And you were supposed to answer with everyone in your peer group staring at you.  I felt so uncomfortable my body temperature rose 10 degrees.  Then she started going in on what happened in the barracks about the stupid ass refrigerator and subsequent incidents.  I felt caught in the middle.  Why couldn’t everyone agree to disagree?  And why did my opinion matter?  I wasn’t the one involved, and I felt as if she were trying to get me to take sides on an issue that had nothing to do with me.  Yes, I did have an opinion but I felt it did not matter because I was not the injured party.  Why couldn’t this woman just try to work it out between the two people involved?  Obviously there was an issue between the two Soldiers.  A focus group with just the two of them would have made much more sense.  No one would have privy to what they say and they can really get off their chest everything that is bothering them.  Why did she interrogate all of us?  It made us divisive and some people were just flat out lying.  It was surreal and I wanted it to end.

The EO Lady said I was emotional.  I wasn’t emotional—okay, yeah, I guess anger is an emotion.  Unfortunately, when I become angry I cry about it–which makes me even angrier.  I wasn’t sad or depressed.  I was frustrated.  I did not agree with either Soldier in the Barracks Fiasco, bu since it did not involve me I did not care.  I guess by some standards that is a selfish way of looking at things, but lately I’ve been on this trip that if it ain’t about me then I don’t really give a fuck.

EO Lady kept going on and on, asking me how I felt and I really just wanted to tell everyone to fuck off.  I became so tired of talking about the situation.  I understand that it’s this woman’s job to investigate everything, but if I have said to you, “I refuse to answer your questions,” there’s really not much else you can do with that.  Move on.

Take your pick.

Take your pick.

I am not a middle of the road person; I have very strong opinions about a lot of things.  Over the years, however, I’ve learned I have to carefully pick my battles.  No one actually cares about what I think.  I have come a long way in accepting that.  I do not feel the need to voice my opinion on everything I come across.  I now save my energy for battles that truly need fighting.  I pick what is important to me and go from there.  That is what I wanted this woman to understand.  The size of the living quarters, yellow tape on the floor and respecting the barracks NCOIC are issues that don’t actually appear on my “Give a Shit” list.

I felt drained by the time we were done, and this crazy woman wanted us to do it again, but this time based on race.

Yes, race.  Let’s talk about Ferguson up in here, because apparently that’s where we’re at.

Operation: GTFO (Day 193)

I had to take a break from blogging because I felt like things were getting out of control.  I don’t want to add fuel to a fire already burning out of control.  We’ve gone someplace unfamiliar, and it’s become more than a snarky blog can handle.  I feel I must tread very lightly.

For the first few months I felt like this deployment was way better than the last deployment.  I cited less drama, more amenities and more freedoms as reasons why this was better.  After additional analysis, I have now changed my mind.  The drama is far more magnificent on this deployment than it was on the last, and because of that I think this is worse.

The Case of the Missing Refrigerator

I was out one evening, jogging or something.  When I returned I was told that Higher was looking for me.  I went down to her corner in the barracks but she wasn’t there.  I shrugged it off, thinking that if it was that serious she would just come find me.

The next day she did indeed find me.  She came to my office and said there would be an all-female meeting in the barracks that night.  I asked her why she was looking for me and she said she would talk about it at the meeting.  I was annoyed because I prefer to be more direct.  If there’s something to be said, just go ahead and say it.  Why wait until later?  What’s the difference?

Of course, she could have just used her fridge as a backpack and all of this would have been avoided.

Of course, she could have just used her fridge as a backpack and all of this would have been avoided.

When we got together for the meeting, she announced that someone had stolen a refrigerator from an empty cubby.  “Whoever took that girl’s refrigerator needs to put it back.”  The refrigerator in question belonged to a Soldier who is on assignment in another location.  She bought the refrigerator before she left.  Since you can’t stuff a fridge in your duffle bag, she left it in her cubby for her usage upon her return.

Apparently, someone had taken it and Higher was demanding that it be returned immediately.  Be advised that at the time of this incident there were only five females from our unit present in the barracks.  Most of the females had been assigned to other bases.  One was at school.  Of the five females that remained, every single one of them already had a refrigerator.  Apparently, Higher had not applied any logic to her accusation that one of us had taken the fridge.  There’s no reason anyone would need two refrigerators, especially since there are hardly any electrical outlets and there’s very little space.

When we all just stared at her with deer-in-the-headlights look, she launched into a tirade worthy for a toddler.

“Who took that refrigerator?  Whoever took it is a thief!  You need to put that refrigerator back right now!”  It went on and on for about five minutes, but we’re still just standing there, looking at her like she’s insane.

Let’s stop for a second.  The one thing I despise about the Army is that people get promoted because they just do.  You happen to have completed all your schooling.  You show up to drill on time.  You pass your PT test and all that stuff, and suddenly you are promoted to the next level.  It does not matter if you are qualified to lead people or not.  The Army is under the impression that anybody can be trained for leadership.  I completely disagree.  There are some people who are born to lead.  There are some people that can indeed learn to lead.  And there are some people who just were not destined for leadership at all.  They just aren’t.

Respect my authoritaaaaay!

Respect my authoritaaaaay!

I feel like Higher is one of these people who is just not a leader.  She probably knows her job quite well, but when it comes to managing people it’s a fail.  From what I observe, she lacks communication skills, empathy, and connection.  The Army feels like if you can do your job and pass a PT test, then you can be a good leader.  I just don’t agree with that business model.

Some of us tried to ask questions about the missing refrigerator but Higher just continued to scream.  She can’t look any of us in the eye, which doesn’t sit well with me.  I don’t like for people to talk to my feet, or the ceiling or the wall behind me.  If you’re addressing me, look at me.  That’s what I meant by connection.  I felt like she was screaming at her kids, but I am not one of her children.  No one could get a straight answer from her.

When I suggested the fridge might have been taken by one of the females from the other unit, Higher became almost ballistic.  Seriously, I thought she was going to have an aneurysm.  “Why would they take the fridge?”

Uh, because they’re leaving this weekend and it’s a quick way to make a dollar.  We shared the barracks with females from a chemical company.  Most of them had left their stuff for their replacements, but a handful of them had sold everything.  In fact, while Higher was on her rampage one of the girls from the other unit was at the door selling a refrigerator.

Trust me, the irony was not lost on me.  I like to think the refrigerator was sold at that very moment.  Of course, I have no way of ever proving that.

Whoever got that fridge is gonna be shot on sight.

Whoever got that fridge is gonna be shot on sight.

To fan the flames, some other NCO that doesn’t even live in the barracks with us showed up.  Her immediate behavior was belligerent and accusatory.  She seemed to have already decided what was going on.  To my mind, she directed most of her ire at two individuals.  She launched into this speech about respect and rank, which made no sense since the focus of the meeting was this fucking fridge.

An hour into this, I said, “Why don’t we just call the 1SG to resolve this matter?”  Higher did not want to do that.  They wanted to wait until the weekend for “the thief” to come clean.  I was not comfortable with that because you’re basically saying that someone in the barracks is snatching shit up, stealing things.  You can secure your clothes, small items and other minor valuables in your wall locker but you can’t secure your refrigerator in a locker.  You can’t put a TV in there either.  With this “thief” running around willy-nilly, anything is liable to come up missing.

I insisted on calling the 1SG but they ignored me.  I wish I had just done it anyway.  They could search our cubbies, find this stupid refrigerator and put the mystery to bed once and for all.  They decided to go through the cubbies and write down all the serial numbers of the fridges we already had.  Higher claimed that she had a list of items and serial numbers belonging to the females that were away.  “They gave me their serial numbers before they left.  I’m going to find out who has the fridge.”

When she said that, it really pissed me off.  Basically you’re saying we could have avoided this uncomfortable fiasco but you chose to come in here like a half-brained mutant.  If it were me, I would have gone straight to the 1SG.  “Hey, Top, we got a missing item in the barracks.  I have the serial numbers.  Can you and the Company Commander search the barracks for it?”  They’re the ones with the legal authority to do such a search.  I don’t need to have a meeting with anyone.  I don’t have to scream at anyone.  I can let my leadership handle the situation.

Of course, that didn’t happen.

What irked me was that Higher lied to us point blank.  She claimed that she had the serial number to the missing refrigerator.  She also said that she walked by the refrigerator every single day and that she knew it on sight.  The second problem is that only half the barracks was searched.  These two did not even search the other females in the barracks.  They couldn’t, of course, because we didn’t have any leadership present.

These two go through our cubbies and write down all the serial numbers to the fridges we’ve had for months.  Higher said she would compare these numbers with the list she had.  “I’m going to find that refrigerator.”

I was so pissed about the situation, the next day I went to my shop leadership and told them what happened from my perspective.  I told them how I thought Higher was purposefully singling out those two Soldiers.  They weren’t accusing those Soldiers of stealing the refrigerator, but there was some tension there that I felt was unnecessary.  What I hoped was that my leadership would involve company leadership to resolve all this bullshit.

That did not happen.

Instead, we all got called into the 1SG’s office individually to talk about what transpired in the barracks.  Apparently, someone had sent an inflammatory email to the 1SG and the CSM, which led to everyone accusing each other of everything from racism to fuckery.  No one would say who sent the email.  1SG wouldn’t say what was in the email but he intimated there were some pretty serious accusations in it and that he had to act upon it.

The Case of the Mysterious Email is a story for another day.

So who had the refrigerator?  Who even fucking knows?  The list of serial numbers did not exist.  The Case of the Missing Refrigerator was never resolved.

Operation: GTFO (Day 119)

Haters Gonna Hate, Hate, Hate

You bring me cold coffee again, I will bury you.

You bring me cold coffee again, I will bury you.

Once again I find myself to be a disliked member of a unit.  The last time I found myself in this position, it was completely understandable.  This time, well, I really don’t give a damn because the source of dislike is actually really quite stupid.

This unit is slightly different than previous units I’ve been in.  It’s not a company or battalion—it’s a group, which is like a battalion, but not.  I’m not going to try to get into how it all works out.  All you need to know is that there are S-shops, so there’s a staff, and then there’s the company.  For the longest time, this meant absolutely nothing to me.  I felt like we were all a part of the same organization.  Now we’re two months into this, I see now why there is a distinction because they have made the distinction.

The staff is naturally made up of officers, but officers need support.  Who does that?  NCOs, of course.  So all the NCOs that work for the staff are also considered “the staff.”  This has led to the Staff vs. Company, or the haves and have-nots.  Officers have a tendency to do whatever they want.  They don’t really follow any rules, and I’m not mad at them.  If you are a battle-weary field grade officer, I feel like you’ve earned the right to do whatever the fuck you want.  If you are lucky enough to work for such an individual, well, then you get an opportunity to enjoy the ups and downs.

For me, it has truly been a roller coaster.  The disadvantages of my position is that I’m forced to work long hours, I am subject to menial tasks that are beneath my intelligence, and I find myself pulled in two different directions by people who don’t really give a fuck about me.  They say they do, but I know what’s up.  This ain’t my first rodeo.

Yeah, I'm gonna need you to work till midnight.

Yeah, I’m gonna need you to work till midnight.

Really, I want to be here, and I knew what I was getting into when I signed up.  I’m smart enough to put up with the bullshit.  Not everyone can handle working for the staff.  There has already been one NCO fired from his staff position because he was incapable of following the most basic of orders.  And you can’t be sensitive either.  These officers say whatever they want.  They do whatever they want.  They don’t really give a shit about you because they are looking for their next piece of brass and they will run over anyone that gets in their way.  I am witnessing this with my own eyes, listening to the things they have to say about one another.  It’s a dirty game, and sometimes it can be amusing to watch.  Other times, it’s scary because eventually everyone has to take a turn.

While the company level NCOs are complaining that I appear to be in a cake job, let me count the ways on how it’s not.  The company has set working hours of 0800 to 1600.  They get off every day at 1559.  Where am I at 1600?  Still in the office, tap dancing on hot rocks, while balancing ginsu knives and hemophiliac babies, to please these people that I work for.  On Saturday, the company works 0800 to 1200.  Where am I?  I’m waiting for these people to get back from their country club lunch.  My co-worker has wasted away to nothing, starved to death because no one thought she was important enough to eat lunch.

Pictured:  47 waiting for our boss to remember that she too has to eat lunch.

Pictured: 47 waiting for our boss to remember that she too has to eat lunch.

Whenever Higher decides he doesn’t want to go to a meeting, guess who gets to go?  I do.  Then I get to feel stupid when GEN COL MAJ looks at me like an insect because I can’t answer his high-level questions.  That’s cool, fuck off, GEN COL MAJ.  That’s my answer to your question.  Oh, Higher wants to get promoted?  Let’s take on 15 new tasks to impress GEN COL MAJ.  Who gets to work those tasks?  Here you go, NCO.  I need you to get on these hot tasks right away.  I need my OER to look good.  Oh, did something get fucked up?  Higher was supposed to send those emails.  Whose fault is it?  My fault.  I’m sorry I did not strap you down to your computer and drag your hands all over the keyboard so you could respond to GEN COL MAJ.  That’s cool if you tell him that I hacked into your computer and deleted all of your emails.  Everything is my fault.

Am I still at work after dark?  Did I come back to work after dinner?  Did I just stay up all night waiting for Big Boss?  Did I still come to work the next day on time?  Go to training and go to work and go to all these meetings and write all your emails?  That’s cool.  I’ll dance that dance.  One night I left my bed and drove two hours down the street to pick up some people.  I sat in a parking lot for three hours, then drove two hours back to base.  We returned to the base at 4AM, and we still had to come to work and work all day long.  What response did we get for doing this?  “You didn’t help with their bags.”

Please shred these papers, one by one, in alphabetical and chronological order.  Also, color code them.

Please shred these papers, one by one, in alphabetical and chronological order. Also, color code them.

Anybody that really knows me knows that I don’t do anything for free.  There is a reason I’m here busting my ass, and it ain’t so I can drive around off-post in a brand new Escalade.  These dumbass mother truckers feel like we get special treatment because we work over here.  No, we’re just not idiots.  That’s all.  If you weren’t dumb as a hat box, this might have been you.  The complaint is that they feel like we’re always the ones who get to “do everything,” and by everything, they mean going off post and participating in activities with the staff.

Let’s examine this and really break down why this is an idiotic complaint.  First, any Soldier can get off post now they’ve lifted all the restrictions.  When we first arrived, all Soldiers did the mandatory paperwork and training necessary to be able to go off post.  There were no exceptions.  All Soldiers were required to get their in-country license.  It took a while to get this done, but now mostly everyone has a license.  If you don’t have a license you can get in a vehicle with someone who does.  Company policy requires two or more Soldiers to travel.  So basically, PFC Doucheface can ask for a vehicle and take his happy little ass to the mall.

Apparently, because we do not go around inviting everyone, we’re assholes.  I don’t want to hang around with everyone.  My days of going to the mall in a horde ended when I was 17.  My days of wasting money in chain restaurants are over.  I do not hang out with people who complain about the cost of a cup of coffee.  I don’t hang out with loud-talking, rude, uncultured idiots.  If you don’t know what fork to use, I don’t have time for you.

If I wouldn’t sit down to dinner with you in the United States, what makes you think I’m prepared to sit down with you in a foreign country where people already look at us like we’re barbarians?  It’s really that simple.

If the Staff invites me to dine with them, it’s probably because they might see me on their level.  I am not going to speak for them, but since I don’t make an ass of myself that might be why I’m seen as fit company.  If you’re not invited, you might want to take a look at yourself and who you’re trying to hang with.  Maybe you’re just not a good fit, socially.

Bitch, can you even read!?!

Bitch, can you even read!?!

I don’t see the Staff as my friends.  Because of rank, they’re not my peers.  I’m just someone who works in their office.  I put up with all their idiosyncrasies.  I hold their hands.  I baby-sit when required.  I do whatever is necessary to get through the day in this office.  I’ve been able to go home “on time” maybe two or three times since being here.  If the tradeoff is being invited out to dinner, then yeah sure, I guess I’ll take that because I’m not going to get anything else.  I might get a half-assed “good job,” followed by a “but really you need to….” I take whatever I can get.  If that means one random weekend I get free reign to do whatever the fuck I want, well, that’s just how it is.

I just hate the “it’s not fair” argument.  Lots of shit ain’t fair.  I don’t feel like it’s fair that I have to attend NCODP and then come to work and make up all the time I missed at training.  I don’t feel like it’s fair that I have to sit in the office while Higher is swimming.  I don’t feel like it’s fair that I get shit on because of stuff outside of my control.  Seriously, no fucks are given for any of these people.  I am not shedding a single tear these people have taken a set against us.  I didn’t want to hang out with you in the first place.  I’m just glad we’ve finally got this cleared up.

It’s never been a secret that I’m ambitious.  I do what I need to do to get ahead in life.  Believe me, there are far more disadvantages than there are advantages.  If you’re a hater, well, keep on hate, hate, hatin’.  I’m sorry you picked an MOS that requires you to kick rocks.

Operation: GTFO (Day 118)

The Mystery of the Bathroom Smell

bad-smell-ad1At long last I’ve solved the mystery of the bathroom smell.  Every time we come back from being away for a long period of time, we would smell this smell.

47 was the first to notice.  “How come it smells like a bathroom in here?”

The temporary bathrooms have this curious smell, and I notice that if you spend any amount of time in there, you return with that odor clinging to you.  It is most aggravating to smell like a urinal cake.  All the bathrooms have toilets and urinals, but they are designated male or female.  I guess it was just cheaper to get the his-and-hers toilet set.

My only explanation for the bathroom smell was that someone had been hanging out in the toilets and they came back to the barracks with that smell on them.  But sometimes it would linger, and it’s really all you could smell.  One time it gave me a headache.  I have a very sensitive nose.  I can smell everything.  Even when the smell is good, if it hangs about too long or is too powerful, it drives me nuts.

A lot of us have resorted to burning candles, warming wax tarts or just spraying the place down with an entire bottle of Febreeze.  You’re not supposed to burn candles or warm wax tarts, but really, I can’t sit in there for any period of time with that smell, like a sun-ripened urinal cake.

We share a barracks with the Chemical Girls (that’s what I call them).  They were already living there when we moved in.  It depends on who you ask if we get along.  They seem to be heavy on the lesbian side.  I don’t say that to be offensive; I say it because there are some strong indicators.  One of them came right out and said she was a lesbian, and there are at least two others that have the look.

KTHXBYE

KTHXBYE

Yeah, yeah, go away with your EO.  I’m not gay-bashing, because I could really give two shits if they’re gay or not.  There is one chick that looks so much like a man that if I happen to get up in the middle of the night and I see her, I’m like, “Why is that guy in here?”  She is the one that drags her feet.  One night I screamed, “Pick up your feet!!!” because I really cannot stand the sound of slippers dragging across the floor.

As further evidence to their alleged lesbianism, one of them frequently asks the confessed lesbian to cuddle.  Or rather she shouts across the barracks, “Hey, you want to cuddle?”  Sometimes I hear them talking about massaging each other, but this really isn’t about the lesbianism.  They could have a gay orgy for all I care, just as long as there is no smell.

There is a very weird one, Mewling Myrtle.  She is the one that was blasting the Jesus music the second day we moved in.  I call her Mewling Myrtle because whenever she listens to music she doesn’t exactly sing along, she mewls, like a dying cat.  It is very low, like you almost can’t hear it, and it’s always off key, but it’s this weird moaning.  One night I thought she was crying.  Another time I thought she was chanting.  It’s just strange.

Well, Mewling Myrtle is the reason why the barracks smell like a toilet.  Two nights ago, I’m lying in bed when I hear the sound of water being splashed about.  Not like a cup of water, mind you, but more like when you overturn a bucket of water.  I kept hearing this over and over, and after a few minutes that smell showed up again.

Why does it smell like that?

Perfectly safe for washing.

Perfectly safe for washing.

I got out of my bed and peeked out of my cubby.  Mewling Myrtle is on her hands and knees scrubbing at the floor.  I don’t even know why she is doing this.  First, the floor is made of concrete.  What are you scrubbing?  Secondly, you don’t need that much water because it is impossible to keep out the dust.  I sweep my corner every single day.  There is always dust.  I do use a Swiffer wet thingy but really, it doesn’t do anything but make the floor smell like bleach for 10 minutes.

So at least I figured out where the water sound was coming from.  She had a bucket and she was dumping water on the floor, scrubbing for a little bit, dumping more water on the floor and scrubbing some more.  I also realized that’s where the smell came from, but I could not figure out why.

So, like I said, I use a Swiffer to mop my corner.  It has a little bottle of bleach juice.  It doesn’t use water.  I don’t think anybody else in the barracks actually mops the floor, but there are a few that use a Swiffer.  Imagine my surprise when 20 minutes later I get up to go to the bathroom and I find Mewling Myrtle in the bathroom, with her bucket, filling it up with water from the urinal.

Water from the urinal.

Now everyone has the ebola.  Thanks, bitch.

Now everyone has the ebola. Thanks, bitch.

The water used in these temporary bathrooms is non-potable.  There are signs that say do not use it to drink.  Do not use it to brush your teeth.  The sign doesn’t say so, but I wouldn’t use it to wash with.  Non potable water is very tricky because it depends on what has been done to the water.  Was it sewage water first?   How many microbes are in the water?  I mean, it’s good for flushing the toilet, which is probably why they don’t want you drinking it or brushing your teeth.  Should you be slathering it all over the floor of your living quarters?

 

Yum!

Yum!

Okay, maybe I’m hyperventilating but the water has a smell to it.  It stanks like a dirty toilet.  I don’t have any proof, but I wonder if the water in the temporary bathrooms is just recycled over and over again, from the toilets back into the toilets.  I mean, I just found it to be bizarre.  Imagine back home in your house and someone in your household is using toilet water to wash dishes.  Who does that?  As 47 asks, “What kind of life did a person have growing up that you thought that was okay?”  It has never crossed my mind that water from a toilet would be acceptable, even in the US where the water for flushing is required to pass EPA standards for drinking.

But these chicks are leaving this weekend.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to solve the mystery of the Barracks Shitter before they depart.

Operation: GTFO (Day 100)

And It Won’t Be Long…

Sadly, I'm not here yet.

Sadly, I’m not here yet.

Today marks the 100th day we’ve been on Title X orders.  I’m pretty sure I’m off by a few days or more, but I don’t think it really matters.  It’s not like this is official record-keeping.  Technically, there could be 300 more days of this.

In a lot of ways, this deployment is vastly easier than my last deployment; but, in other ways, this is so much worse.  I just remarked to 47 that I think I would redo the last deployment before I would redo this one.  The level of drama is very high, so as to be crushing on one’s soul.  On the first deployment, everyone hated me.  It was lonely, but in retrospect, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  No one wanted to talk to me, and I was not required to speak to anyone else.  I went to work every day, and brought my ass back to that tent and sat in my little cubby, minding my own fucking business.

Would that I could do that here!

I'm having unit T-shirts made.

I’m having unit T-shirts made.

I am beset on all sides by meetings, huddles, and NCO calls.  As a staff NCO, I’m right in the middle.  All the junior enlisted want to complain to me like I have the power to fix something, and all the senior enlisted want to complain like I have the power to fix something.  And then this bullshit about company versus staff.  I didn’t even realize that was a thing.  I thought it was, “Hey, you, do this,” and I do it.  Now, it’s like I have to have permission to do work, to do what I consider being a good NCO.  If you ask me to do a job, no matter how shitty that job is, I should do it, and it doesn’t matter who asked me.  I am smart enough, old enough, and experienced enough to know how to manage my time, so when I am tasked, tasked, and tasked some more I know how to juggle my priorities to get all the work done so no one complains I dropped the ball.  I also know how to say, “I have too much on my plate, I need help.”  I know these are difficult behaviours for some people and maybe that is why there is so much oversight, but enough is enough.

A few of my co-workers.

A few of my co-workers.

I feel like I work in a daycare and circus combined.  Some days I feel like a nanny, having to hold everyone’s hand so they don’t shit on themselves.  Other days I feel like I have to perform.  I feel like a circus act, working for peanuts.  I never feel appreciated, but that is the nature of this beast.  I didn’t come here to get an attaboy, but don’t act like we’re not working hard.  I am not overworked.  I do not have to work 12 hour shifts.  I don’t have shit details.  But I am working hard.  It’s just very frustrating.

And the whining.  Yes, I’m whining on my blog, that’s cuz, it’s a blog.  If you’re reading my bitch-fest, it’s because you want to read it.  You don’t have to, but the level of crybabies complaining about every fucking thing is enough to make me kill myself.  You would think it’s some bitch-ass privates, but seriously, we only have two privates.  They have their fair share of issues, but the serious whining is coming from Higher.  I thought as you go up in rank the more power you have to get things done, to rectify things.  I am learning that is not the case.  The higher in rank you go, the more stymied you are.  If you do not have the balls to make a breakthrough, then you’re just a figurehead—or a punching bag, whichever.

Pictured:  Higher's NCOER.

Pictured: Higher’s NCOER.

The workforce seems to be made up of crybabies, Sad Sallies, bi-polar, menstrual cycle ass bitches who need their hand held to cross the fucking street.  There are all kinds of wild accusations of racism, favouritism, fraternization, etc.  Someone said, “IG,” and I just know it’s not going to work out well for us.  Thankfully, none of these accusations are directed at me.  I definitely feel some kind of heat though, but it’s different than the last time.  I think these bitches hate me, but for different reasons.  Last time I insulted everyone, this time, I’m just doing my job and doing it well.  People will always hate you for your successes and they will try their hardest to pounce on you the minute you slip up.

Introducing the new EPS System.

Introducing the new EPS System.

I trust these people less than I trust the last set of people I deployed with.  At least with them, I knew they couldn’t stand me.  They pretty much said it to my face.  With these people, it’s hard to tell.  Everyone smiles at you while they hold the whip hand behind their back.  I took it as no great surprise that my boss told me that I need to protect my own career.  I will take that advice to heart.  You do not know people until you know people.

Operation: GTFO (Day 54)

The Adventure

I told you to make a LEFT!  You obviously failed land navigation.

I told you to make a LEFT! You obviously failed land navigation.

I’m so glad that we have more freedom than we had the last time.  Of course, they took away all the incentive pay to denote that new found freedom.  I guess there’s a tradeoff for everything.

We were told there was an amazing grocery store nearby, about 45 minutes outside the gate.  So the Shop got together and decided that we’d go out and find this store.  One of us had been before and I was sure I had drove past the place once when I came here in March.  But just because you drove past a place once before doesn’t mean you know how to get there.  In fact, just because you’ve been to the place a few times doesn’t mean you know how to get there, as evidenced by last night’s attempt.

47 uses her GPS to find the place.  We could find ourselves on the GPS, as well as the store but for some reason it wouldn’t route.  Madge had a strip map and CJ was the driver.  I fell asleep so I was no use to anybody.  We had been driving for a while when I woke up.  It’s amazing to me how much Kuwait reminds me of Arizona.  I don’t know why I’m amazed though.  Both locations are deserts.  There aren’t that many differences in deserts across the world; I’m sure one looks the same as any other.

At any rate, we started taking wrong turns after about 45 minutes of driving.  At one point we ended up at the Kuwaiti School of Science and Law.  Don’t know how those two subjects go together, but I do know that you shouldn’t put a speed bump at the end of an on-ramp to the highway.  They teach you in driving school to accelerate to the rate of speed on the highway, so you can merge without causing a 20 car pile-up.  What civil engineer decided a speed bump would be useful on the highway?  CJ accelerate to 60MPH only to have Madge scream at him, “Dude, watch out!”  There’s a giant speed bump right at the merge point.  Who does that?  He slammed on the brakes to avoid fucking up the already fucked up vehicle we’re in, but we still have to merge onto the highway.

Imagine this is at the end of your driveway

Go ahead, hit that bitch at 60MPH.

We took several more wrong turns before 47 realised the supermarket she GPSed was in UAE, an entirely different country.  We weren’t following her directions, rather the map Madge had, but still, let this be a reminder to everyone to actually read your directions before you blindly set off into that good sunset.

We did eventually make it to the store.  It was totally worth driving around aimlessly in the desert.  For whatever reason, although Kuwait is no longer a combat zone, the Army has not decided to upgrade any of its facilities.  Other overseas locations have commissaries and housing that supports cooking one’s own food.  For now, we’re stuck with whatever slops are served in the chow hall and toilet bowl wine.

I felt like the poor kid who recently came into a windfall.  I was in the store with deer-in-the-headlights look like I’ve never been anywhere with electricity before.  I’m gaping at refrigerated items, freshly butchered meat, freshly baked bread.  It’s like if Macy’s had a grocery store.

We spent about an hour in there, but next time I need to make a list.  There’s a lot going on in there and it was hard to remember everything I could want.  I specifically wanted fancy coffee creamer but I forgot because I spent 30 minutes at the hot food buffet.  There was all this exotic food and I couldn’t make up my mind.  Then we spent another 15 minutes just trying to figure out what juice to get.  I said I wanted cranberry but they had pure strawberry juice.  Never had pure strawberry juice before.  Then there was this mixed fruit guava, mango, pineapple juice.  I couldn’t make up my mind.

No, seriously, it's totally the same as real money.

No, seriously, it’s totally the same as real money.

Then they had crepes.  Crepes are kinda my weakness.  They aren’t sold everywhere so anytime I see one I always get one.  I order a nutella strawberry crepe and give the lady my credit card to pay.  She comes back and says it’s declined.  Uh, I have $7 million in my bank account, can’t be declined.  Although I know damn well I have enough money to buy a $6 crepe, I was sure it was more likely my bank was confused about charges coming out of Kuwait.  So I gave her my other credit card, the one I don’t use too much.  This is also declined.  I had to ask 47 to help me out, but her card was also declined.  So now we’re just standing there.  The lady laughs and says their machine is messed up, that’s why none of the cards are working.  Okay, that’s great but I need to pay you.  She asks me if I have Kuwaiti money.  I said no, and that was a fail.  Next time, bring Kuwaiti money just in case.  47 and I are standing there about to get our hands chopped off for theft of goods.  She asked them if they take American dollars and the guy looked at her as if she offered to pay him in goats.  Seriously, his face was comical.  American money is not worth as much here, so I can understand his reticence.  Imagine you’re working at Wal-Mart and someone is like, “Hey, do you take pesos?”  Uh, no, bitch, we don’t.

Luckily, one guy did not seem to mind the American dollars because he gave us the Kuwaiti money and we gave him $10.  Then we turned around and gave the Kuwaiti money to the cashier.  All is well that ends well but I was getting a little nervous.

It only took us 20 minutes to get back to the base, which just lets you know how far out of the way we were in attempting to get to the place.  At least I have some good snack foods and a few things to get me through lunch the next couple of days.