Monday, October 29, 2007

A Rude Awakening

Anyone who has spent more than a little time outside can tell you that a little forethought goes a long way. As much time as we spent telling old sea stories of wine and women, when it came to the field, alot of those conversations turned to bathroom & sleeping topics.

This is a short story about sleeping tips.

First of all, just as in real estate, it's all about the location, location, location. Flat ground is nice, but sometimes you can make do with a slight incline. Grass is great, tufts are not. Dirt is doable, rocks, not so much. Wide open spaces are nice, wide open vehicles driving around sans ground guides are most definitely not.

Sometimes you don't really have a choice.

Sometimes you are out to the field for extended periods of time, and you bed down when and where you can. Sometimes you're in the vehicle for 17 hours out of an even longer day. Sometimes the Platoon Sergeant beds you down in a very slight valley, right before the rain. Sometimes, at the top of a rocky hill & in the middle of nowhere, a F-150 still runs right over your tender lil' tootsies.

One conversation that I had as a young Lance Corporal had run the gamut of locationary tips. We has spoken of wind breaks, rain water troughs, and the like. The talk came to comfort and heat.

Some guys lived the theory that, as sleeping bags were designed to trap and retain heat, the best way to get that bag full o' the warm and sleepy was to disrobe. Completely. As in bare-assed nekkid. Most of those guys went butt-naked, anyways, any chance they got.

Me, I always hated the fact that there wasn't enough time in the mornings. Heck, there wasn't any time in most mornings. I'm the kind of guy that likes to at least yawn, stretch, scratch anything that needs scratching, and contemplate the day. I especially disliked having about 30 seconds to get all of my crap together, stuffed into my pack, and be on the move to the next training evolution. Naturally, I never felt that there was enough time in the mornings.

What I usually did right before nap time was to lay out my insulating mat on a somewhat level piece of ground. Those things did wonders to keep some of the cold from coming up from the deck. I would then lay it down to find some of the hidden rocks. Then, usually with a gloved hand, I would reach underneath the mat to scrape away some of those stones, usually catching a few thorns in the process (hence the glove). I would arrange my re-closed pack at my right side, blocking some of the wind. I would arrange my flack, kevlar helmet, and load-bearing vest on my left (hopefully blocking some of the wind from that side). This also helped because it put all of my gear really close by, in case I needed to get to it in the dark. I would lay out my sleeping bag, (and after one particularly freezing night with no bag I always had the full bag), and get ready to commence rack ops.

In training, I always took off my boots and placed them in a water proof bag that I had acquired from... somewhere. No creepy crawlies were going to make their home in my boots, my pack, or anything else for that matter, while I snoozed. It was a bad way to wake up, for the both of us, should I interrupt his little rack ops with my nasty feet. This is also why, even after taking the boots from the bag, I shook them upside down, just in case. If I was taking off the cammies, I would generally shake them out, fold 'em up, and place them inside the layers of the bag. This would keep them from getting too wrinkled, keep them somewhat warm, and most importantly, keep any unwanted visitors from making a home in my trouser's crotch (muy importante). I would then crawl into the bag, snuggle up to my rifle, and rack out.

One cool morning, at the beginning of another long day of range fire, I awoke not particularly happy. The fire watch had woken me up three times during the night, looking for their relief. Sometimes all those sleeping bags lined up in platoon formation can look kind of similar, I guess. I was also woken up a couple of times by sleepy Marines, stumbling their way in the dark to the head call area (the area designated by the platoon's doc as where you would go take a leak). I wondered if they couldn't make it outside of the platoon without stepping on anyone, would it be too much to ask that they stumble while doing the deed and piddle down their legs, just once?

At the call of 'Reveille', and the nearly obligatory 'Wakey, wakey, hand off snakey', I sat up, still wrapped up in my bag, to give the chilly morning the evil (if not eye-booger filled) eye. I looked around to my immediate left, to glare at some Marines that were doing their best to hit the snooze button on life. I hated them for the extra 20 seconds of sleep that they got over me. I turned my head to the right, wondering when my brain would actually wake up and kick into gear, when I saw...

There are few things in life that will wake you up faster than a good, hot, tasty cup of coffee.

Realizing that; libo expires in 30 minutes, you are 10 miles from the base, drunk as a skunk, and due for a PFT (physical fitness test), is one.

Incoming mortar and rocket fire in Iraq (or anywhere else, really) is another.

... that the Marine two feet from my right had risen from his rack to contemplate the wonders of the day. He woke and stood right up, exposing himself in all his glory to the platoon and mother nature. Did I mention that he was one of those that always got nekkid whenever and wherever possible? Yup, me sitting down still wrapped up and cursing the day, him standing up and doing trunk twists, placed his crotch... well, let's just say that we were seeing eye to eye, and not in the good way.

Apparently, getting an unexpected eye-full of early morning Marine crotch is the holy grail of rapid and rude awakenings.


Anonymous said...

Hey Murph,
You are giving me great ideas for a post!! This is a must for the young devil dogs that are heading out to training.

Murphy said...

sleep naked and excercise in the early am?