Saturday, November 7, 2009

Roomie--5 Time Zones Away

A few nights each week I wake up briefly when my roommate's alarm goes off. It goes off 3 or 4 nights each week at 0300!!! 3am. My roommate, Nickey Smith, is a squad leader in the motor pool and has to report to work by 0600. He wakes up at 3am to use the gym when it is empty. I go when it's crowded, but he really doesn't like crowds.

With my new job, I can sleep till 0700 if I want to eat the everything breakfast. I can sleep till 0800 if I want to skip breakfast. We get up 5 hours apart and we both work days--sort of. I work 9 to 6 then come back, eat dinner, work out or go to book groups, then work till midnight or later sometimes. So I can sleep late. Nickey has a fixed schedule. So when I come in the CHU to change at 6 or 7pm Nickey is sometimes already asleep. He is almost always asleep by the time I pickup my pack to go back to work at 9 or 10 at night.

If I work late enough I might be up for his alarm. Nickey is a great roommate. We each do our best to keep the room dark and quiet for the other. Nickey's locker divides the room so we each have low-power lamps we can use while the other one is sleeping. Most days, one of us is asleep between 8pm and 8am.

Right now Nickey and I are on sleep schedules so far apart it is as if one of us was in China and one in Iraq. Or one in Iceland and one Iraq. Five time zones is the difference between the east coast of the US and London, or between Chicago and Hawaii, Paris and Mumbai.

Emotional Roller Coaster

This week has been the worst in the deployment for spikes of emotion. I had very good news, very bad news and most of it will have to wait until I get home before I can write about it. The "Shadow blog" Meredith and Daria advised me to keep got a thousand words longer last night describing in some detail how two young officers decided to screw with me on Monday, how I went to their bosses, and how the whole thing turned out. I went from very low to flying way too close to the sun--if you know the legend of Icarus.

Last week a good friend of mine lost his job because of a stupid remark he made to one of his soldiers and this week the whole issue came to a head. He is not the kind of guy who fights back when he is wrong, so he is just going to accept his punishment. Others who have done worse have skated by without a problem. He seems like an example of how good people get screwed, but in the past week while this drama unfolded, he has seen how many people respect him, stand behind him and support him. So he really is getting virtue's reward, love when you need it--more than you expect.

The day I knew I was a wreck was Wednesday. I was writing a farewell to Charlie MEDEVAC for the newsletter that comes out Monday. I have only known those guys for two months and only know a dozen of them personally, but that company is the most professional, together, and focused unit I have worked with directly since I have been in the Army. Anyway, I was writing the essay and started to cry. At that point I knew I was getting too little sleep, having too much excitement, and needed a rest.
I am going to send the newsletter to the people who I have email addresses for. If you want a copy, send me an email at ngussman@gmail.com and I will add you to the list.

Family Black Sheep Flies a MEDEVAC Blackhawk

Brooklyn-born Amira Talifi, (not her real name) is a helicopter pilot I served with in the Army National Guard. She is one of seven ch...