Well it's evening. We've returned from family dinner. There was such total crap for dinner tonight. I'm sure the troops who are outside the wire would laugh to hear me complain. I expect that a hot dinner in a warm enclosed DFAC is a sight better than an MRE in a tent. But with that frame of reference aside, I am sick of every variety of gray meat and brown stuff on rice they have to offer here in Mortaritaville. The shaved beef raised the spirits with an appearance that deceptively promises the makings of a nice Philly cheese steak. Time and time again I have been fooled by this temptress only to have my heart broken again when I try to chew through an unpalatable mass of gristle that was discarded when they trimmed someone else's cut of meat. The fried cabbage hurt me enough at lunchtime that I wasn't ready for another round. Good thing I have a fan in my hooch. The prime rib was neither. I settled for a plate of potatoes and pasta. Up yours, Atkins, you carbastard! It turned out to be egg noodles with tomato soup. What they lacked in spices they compensated for by overcooking the noodles. Good thing we are paying KBR $36 a head for this fare.
The DFAC was not without a healthy dose of atmosphere. The line attendants all greeted us with friendly smiles. They were more than happy to scoop us massive servings of the hot food. I can complain about the quality, but how can I stay mad when they ladle on more than a bear could eat? And of course wartime dining wouldn't be complete without decorations. The Thanksgiving turkeys are down and the effigies of Christ carved out of vegetables have yet to go up, but there is an impressive model of the Taj Mahal. I think it might be a southwest Asian version of a gingerbread house. How long does it take to build a five foot tall model of the Taj Mahal? I'm not sure, but they probably let the pasta boil away to mush the whole time they were constructing it. I think the model might be edible. It is even wired with small colored lights. Does the real Taj Mahal have lights in the windows? I think that a few of the DFAC staff might possible live inside of it. I hope they don't serve it to us on Christmas.
So after a satisfying dinner which I followed with a dessert of complaining, I returned to the hospital with the crew to see what the helicopters had brought us. It was only the CSH run, transferring American patients from the hospital in (redacted) so they could be staged here for aeromedical evacuation out of the country. So I settled into the Wounded Warrior Lounge to use the computer.
My thoughts stray from my postprandial agita and self-pitying to two of my colleagues who headed home early from deployment. Both were members of the hospital staff. One suffered an injury. He was in incredible pain and had trouble walking. After examinations and x-rays, one of our specialists started him on medication. He continued to work through it all. Even though he couldn't take care of patients in his condition, he continued to fulfill his administrative duties and hammered out an incredible amount of paperwork that otherwise would have been sloughed off to someone else at the last minute. He was biding his time and waiting to get better because he didn't want to leave us a man short. I think that every one of us told him to pack up and get himself home before he was finally convinced to leave. I just didn't think that he would be able to recover here, especially not with the pace of work he was keeping. I know him well, and frankly it didn't surprise me to see him working so hard. He has an incredible work ethic and I don't think I've seen him complain once here or at our home station.
Another troop who left is someone whom I've gotten to know here for the first time. He has a great sense of humor and always has a positive attitude. He is one of the senior leaders in our hospital. Even when I'm in a particularly irritated mood he can usually get me to laugh. He received word that one of his loved ones would need to undergo treatment for a newly-diagnosed illness. He delegated his duties that he couldn't simply complete before leaving, and made the trip home to the person who needed him. To his expressed intention to return quickly to help us, we all told him to not come back. We certainly do benefit from his hard work here and need him in a generic sense, but it is so much more important that he go home and stay home. He is needed much more specifically there. I do miss him because he certainly lightened up the place a bit. I didn't get to give him my good wishes and encouragement before he left, but he and his family are in my thoughts. I sincerely hope that all is resolved safely and smoothly.
So it ain't so bad to be stuck here for the full deployment when you consider the greater scheme of things. I'll be very pleased to do my time and come home in good health to a family that is doing well. I wish the best for both of my friends who headed home early.
Love life and have fun,