Saturday, January 20, 2007
A Pass In Time: Exile In Guyville
For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of visiting Iraq, it looks pretty much like it looks on the evening news. It's a desert--brown and dry and sunny, spotted with occasional bushes and trees that look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. It also has a very peculiar smell. Is it dust? Is it burning garbage? Is it diesel fumes? Is it raw sewage? Is it body odor? The answer is...All of the above!
Our individual living areas were 12' x 15' rooms called "pods." Each housed two troops, except during transition periods where four people were crammed in. My pod-mate was another CE guy from Hill named Cody Rasband. For some reason, when I arrived in Utah two years ago, Cody decided he didn't like me. I don't know why, but I soon got the point, and, after trying to exchange pleasantries with him a few times, just let him be. Since I never really gave him any reason to dislike me, I thought it was a kind of poetic justice for him to get stuck with me. I managed to break down the barrier and actually had a few decent conversations with him. I doubt we'll be tossing back beers together anytime soon, but at least I gave him a reason to not despise me. We had our wall lockers situated in the middle of the room to create another wall, so it was more like having my own little room and sharing our doorway. Overall, the pods were actually pretty nice. I ordered a few posters online to give mine a nice ambience. And since I had my computer with me, I could turn on a little bootie-shakin' music anytime I was feeling down. About two weeks before we left, several people in my squadron were told we had to move, Cody and I among them. A new section of pods was built, and it's a force protection measure to spread out people from the same squadron as much as possible. That just means that if a mortar were to hit a certain area of housing, we wouldn't lose everyone in the same area of expertise. The new pods were pretty much the same as the older ones, but much farther away. We all thought it was ridiculous to have us move across H-6 when we had such a short time left. The upside was that, since we were so far away, hardly anyone used the shower and latrine trailers near us.
For a deployment, the facilities really weren't too bad. Of course, when you're used to your own bathroom attached to your bedroom, well, it's just not the same, especially since we had to be in uniform or PT gear every time we left our pod. There was a set of trailers (two for latrines, one for showers) a short walk from my pod. The latrine trailers had a few sinks with a row of toilet stalls. Plus, there were potra-potties speckled all over the place.
The Air Force has recently implemented a new dress code for deployed airmen. While at work, we wear the desert camouflage uniform (DCU). Until recently, you could wear whatever you wanted (within reason) when not on duty. But now, we're required to wear the official Air Force PT gear. This consists of any combination of grey t-shirt, blue nylon shorts, nylon pants, and/or nylon jacket. At first, this seems like just another way to take away our individuality; but really, it made things much easier. There was less worry about what to pack, and the PT gear was comfortable, albeit noisy. And it was kinda fun to look like a navy blue power ranger.