Thursday, April 23, 2009

Flush with Happiness

Here in Kuwait we all have Battle Buddies. Everywhere we go--except stumbling out to the PortaJohns in the middle of the night--we go with our Battle Buddy. The main thing is that we go nowhere alone. So we can travel with just about any other soldier, but most of us have one soldier we travel with more than others.

My Battle Buddy is another old guy (48) who, is a conservative Presbyterian and likes quiet. We are hoping to room together if we end up in a place with 2-man rooms. We room together now, of course, along with 76 others.

For all of us happiness comes in different small luxuries. My Battle Buddy is fond of saying "It's the small things that matter." For him, the discovery that brightened his life (literally) was the latrines 1/4 mile from our barracks that have indoor plumbing and LIGHT. It seems my BB does not like sitting in a dark latrine. Now he knows he can have BOTH flush toilets and lights, he is a happy man.

Speaking of happiness, I could not stop laughing the second day we were here over a joke one of the soldiers made at my expense. In the morning we walk 50 meters west to the PortaJohns and if you want to make a more efficient trip, you can walk 50 meters south to the outdoor running water sinks and brush your teeth. At 530 am I was walking (more like stumbling) toward the PortaJohn holding my toothbrush to make the two-destination trip. A young soldier passed me on his way back from the PortaJohns and said quietly, "Sgt Gussman. The've got some really good blue mouthwash in those PortaJohns."

I thought it was funny at the time. It is typical of the jokes here.



The food in the Kuwait DFACs (Dining Facilities) really is better than Oklahoma. A lot better. The two DFACs serve the same food, but the one close to us has plastic throwaway plates and silverware. The one farther away has washable plates and real silverware. It even has a fountain between the chow lines.

But before I get to the food, the luxury DFAC also has the Sweat Nazi (SW). The SW is a really old school sergeant who believes this DFAC is her DFAC and acts like it. She is tall, never smiles that I ave seen and is constantly checking food on the serving lines and eying the soldiers in line. If you come in her dining facility with sweat on obvious on your clothes, you are ejected. Now this might seem to be a reasonable rule, but it gets very hot here.

Back to the food. In both DFACs you wash your hands upon entry. There are a half-dozen sinks inside the door along with reminders about cleanliness, about not putting headgear on the table and that weapons must lie flat on the floor. We sign in by scanning our ID cards, then choose the short order or main lines. At breakfast, the short order means scrambled eggs along with bacon, sausage, creamed beef, potatoes, and either pancakes or French toast. Main line adds omlettes and eggs to order to all of the above.

That's the hot food choices.

The next line is two-sided and is about 150 feet of fresh and dried fruit, coffee, juices, cereal, milk and other things like yogurt and cottage cheese.

For lunch and dinner, short order is burgers, chicken, grilled cheese and cheesesteak from a grill, plus fried chicken, pizza, fries and onion rings. Main line could be pork, turkey or beef roast, fish, pasta, ravioli, cooked vegetables, potatoes of various kinds and other hot choices. The second line is a 50 item salad bar, a cold meat sandwich line, plus all the drinks above. Tables seat 20 and are wooden.

The whole place is nearly cold with air conditioning. None of us will starve. And with all that, KFC, Subway, Nathan's, the pizza place and all the other fast food places seem to do a brisk business.

No one will starve here.

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