Southpark: Day The First
For those who may not have read Chapter One or Letter From a Southpark Jail, This is a transcribed letter/email sent to my Girlfriend from Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Ed Note: Most of the photos are ‘clickable’
Checked into Southpark and got me a bottom rack—With a Lockable Locker!
My Bottom Rack (with I-Pad)
First time that has ever happened! Bad news is now it is too late to get to the CAC badging office and they are closed on Sundays. Therefore, I waste a day here. But at least I have you now (don’t I?) and can occupy my time with thoughts of us in Dubai in a few short weeks. And just in case I take a pause from that lovely daydream, I have fetched along Ishmael, Captain Ahab, and Moby Dick to keep me company: just a little light reading.
Sunday 29 July 0830hrs: Southpark Smoking Area
Sitting outside in the smoking area surrounded by Bosnians all on one table, Indians on another, Filipinos at yet another, a few Americans strategically placed, and on and on. Oh, and some Brits, also strategically placed. The Gomers have a ‘work detail’ list. They are dreaming if they broach this subject to me. I am Forced to Be Here; that is all they will receive from me: My illustrious presence and my promise not to kill anyone while here. Every morning at muster, we are forced to sign in on the Sign in Sheet. Lest we forget, there are signs everywhere to remind us:
“If You Do Not Make Muster and Sign In You Will Not Be Paid. And Furthermore: Not Making Muster Will Result In Disciplinary Action Up To And Including Termination (And An Ass Rendering Administered By Conan Our Resident Barbarian) Thank You for Complying and have a nice day…yada yada yada.
Don’t Lose Your Head over SP
I found DynCorp to be a little too subtle for my taste. I always like to know exactly where I stand with a company I am helping to fleece the Government on the backs of low-paid TCN’s. (OK, I promised I would not ‘dis’ DynCorp. Overmuch.)
0859hrs: Southpark DFAC (Dining Facility) Tent
Sitting in the Southpark DFAC, such as it is, having some coffee, such as that is. AFN (Armed Forces Network) is on the TV. Yes, there is a television (another first). This is all we ever see over here (was the same in most parts of Iraq, but when I was in Basra, I could watch Al Jazeera—in English–but that probably wasn’t looked upon too kindly) and actually, it ain’t bad. They pretty much broadcast the same shit one gets back in The States: CNN, Fox, ESPN, lousy movies, Andy Griffith, etc. The only way to know you are watching AFN, in fact, is by the ‘Commercials’: All PSA’s detailing how U.S. Service Personnel are expected to comport themselves and various other things mil-centric. Some of these “Made in the U.S. DOD commercials” are quite professional and slick as Baby Shit, while others are so bad as to be hysterical. I love watching the bad ones–the ones that look like High School Plays.
More coffee. Regarding last night’s rocket attack: (Guess I neglected to mention that) My Dear, this is just routine for KAF. As far as I know, it has been at least two months since the Taliban Assholes have actually hit anything or injured anyone. In other words, they usually can’t hit shit.
Point being, please do not worry about THAT. (I just caught myself looking for the “Save” button on this steno pad. I must be losing my mind.)
Just returned from PX Mission: Mission accomplished. No apparent casualties.
1134hrs: Picnic Area
Got kicked out of the DFAC so ‘they’ could clean it before lunch time (1230hrs). Purchased an alarm clock at the PX since I have to get up at 0345hrs tomorrow to go to the CAC badging office and I forgot to bring my Dwyer alarm clock with me. “Hell Lance! It’s only money.” I now have three alarm clocks plus my watch. “As God as my witness, I’ll never be late again!”
Ran into an acquaintance from Dwyer. His name escapes me, but he told me Dwyer was slated for closure in December. Hmmmm…. I may be out of a job soon. Maybe they did cancel Christmas after all.
1255hrs: Sitting on my rack…
…After I came ‘home’ and discovered two Gomers with their butts parked on same. They removed/relocated their butts as soon as I pointed out to them that I was not (in this case) a very nice person. In case you missed it, I am never a very nice person while I am stuck in Southpark. But then, I am not alone in this. Lunch, or as we call it in the Texas, ‘Dinner’, was eat-able. I had the chicken, as the other meat offerings were unrecognizable to me. Wasn’t bad actually, the chicken (yard-bird?) was burned to perfection.
OK, Not My Rack
While I was on my PX mission, I was also searching for the Gym that someone at Dwyer had assured me was ‘Close to the PX’ – didn’t find it and now it is too bloody hot to go on another reconnaissance mission. If you’re wondering how I am able to move freely about, sans escort, it is because ‘they’ changed the rules once again. This time for the better: A First in all my previous Southpark experiences. Now, those in possession of a valid CAC card are no longer restricted in their movements, bowel or otherwise. Praise Be to The Great White Cat of the River Nile.
1313hrs: Sirens Again! Then the BIG VOICE:
*ROCKET ATTACK! ROCKET ATTACK! TAKE COVER! TAKE COVER!*
(Don’t these people ever give up?) Be right back.
1315hrs: Still sitting on my rack
ALL CLEAR! ALL CLEAR! Glad I didn’t get up. Probably a false alarm. How do they expect me to get distressed when the BIG VOICE is female with a soothing British accent?
1405hrs: Sitting on my rack
Waiting on the Gomers to finish cleaning the DFAC Tent so I can get another coffee. I seem to drink heavily when I am on-board (bored) Southpark.
Oh, I forgot to tell you… After I kicked the two Gomes off’n my rack, I asked one of them to take my photo (action shot of me writing to you) Look for it amongst the attachments. It will be the one what says, “Bad Mutha-Fuckah.”
I suppose it is time to explain why I use the term ‘Gomer’ when referring to TCN’s (and everyone else On Staff, for that matter). During my Iraq days, I had a good friend (Rick) who referred to the Iraqis as ‘Gomers’. Not sure how he arrived at that, but it seemed to fit at the time. Gomer, Gomer Pyle or Get Out of My Emergency Room (Really. Google it.) Anyway, the moniker took hold–took hold so well that all in our clique began using it to refer to all ‘others’. And let me further say it actually became, over time, somewhat of a term of endearment.
Gomer 1 and Gomette 2 Amman Jordan ’07
We started calling each other ‘Gomer’. Since there were several of us, now all Gomers, things could get confusing. To prevent miscommunication, we labeled each other ‘Gomer 1’, ‘Gomer 2’, ‘Gomer 3’, and so on. I was, of course, ‘Gomer 1’ (and I can prove that, as I have documentation—and it was a high honor.) There were never more than four Original Gomers, or ‘Gomes’ for short, but we did have one ‘Alternate Gomer’, just in case one of the Founding Gomers got taken out by an Iraqi Gomer with a lucky mortar shot.
2002hrs: My Rack
Was wonderful to discover several emails from you earlier. Unfortunately it took forever to load Gmail and by the time I had finished reading them I had no time left to respond, as it was time for everyone to start entering their hours on the electronic time sheets. We must do this every day and management has no sense of humor if we don’t. (Up to and including termination…) Supper tonight was turkey, which tasted very much like the chicken I had for lunch. Available also was some roast beast, but I had to take a pass on that. (My sense of self-preservation is quite refined). I went on Walk-About for about an hour this afternoon, but of course it wasn’t the same as I don’t have my ankle weights with me. I’m proud of me for making the effort, at least.
Coffee. Hell, why not coffee? I probably won’t sleep much tonight anyway and I have to get up at 0345hrs anyhow. Ran into the aforementioned buddy again (still cannot recall his name), not that it matters. Well, he told me where the gym was and it is NOT where some other buddy back at Dwyer had told me. If fact, it is about as far removed from THAT location as is possible. If I am not too whacked out tomorrow after the CAC Badging office, I will check it out and report my findings to you. If all goes well tomorrow, then tomorrow will be my last full day here until I come through on my way to Dubai. I had an email from Shannon today, saying that Mike was still hanging on. Christ! Firing that jerk is proving more involved than impeaching Clinton (or Nixon). I was hoping he’d be gone when I got back, but now I’m not so sure. This DFAC tent is actually pretty squared away, now that I am really studying it. It is small, yes, but the Gomes keep it clean and tidy. Not really an easy task, given the scores of people who use it at all hours. I never leave a mess when I depart. I am good that way and am famous for cleaning my own hotel rooms before checking out. Does that make me weird? Don’t worry though; I’m not anal about it. One thing that strikes me funny about this DFAC tent is that there are three smoke detectors (that I can see from where I am sitting) that are all clumped together in relatively the same area—about six feet apart. Logic would seem to dictate that they be spread out a bit, but what the hell, right?
Comments, as always, much appreciated.