Thursday, October 4, 2007

An Unexpected Serenade

I don't remember the year I first visited the Stumps, but it was about as fun and glorious as the other trips I made out there. That is to say, not very fun at all. But what the hell, it's desert warfare training, not disneyland. It's not that there wasn't any humerous moments, it's just that they were all so drenched in hot sweaty man stink that it just kind of sucked all the humor away at the time.

Did I mention it got kinda hot over there?

One afternoon we had completed the misery that passed for our training, and gone to the rear. On most civilized bases, 'the rear' was somewhere that looked a little bit like, you know, an actual base. Guess we had pissed somebody off that had the bling bling on their collars, because our rear area looked like some crusty old crew chief had just kicked a bunch of tents off of the rear of a passing helo, and let them land... wherever.

At least our tents were air conditioned. Yup, they had these flaps that you could lift up and tie off, and there you go... pretty good, at least until 0830. After that and before late afternoon, you were just as miserable as anywhere else under the blazing sun. Not that we were hanging out much in the tents in the morning or anything, 'cause, who needs the stinking shade?

So once we had gotten back and gotten all of the various little details taken care of, we got turned loose for a few hours before hitting the rack. My team leader at the time thought it would be kinda cute to give a liberty brief, even though we could walk over to the very generously named 'e-club' or... that was about it, there was nothing else except for sand, everywhere.

Friggin' e-club didn't even have beer, just sweet tea and AC.

My grand plans for the evening consisted of chow, toilets, showers, & sweating. Pretty busy night, considering there was a pretty good chance (about 175%) that I would be standing some sort of firewatch for a few hours during the night).

[heh, rereading this post I realized that it's kind of... bleh. It's actually not all that bad as many Marines will tell ya, but this one seems to be naturally oriented to a bleh setting.]

First up on the schedule, chow.

True to form for the rest of my years in, chow got distributed while I was running around on a working party or meeting or whatever. I returned to my pack to find that I had been alloted 8 identically nasty omlette meals for the next training evolution. Guess which chow was the least desired in the platoon, go ahead, take a wild stab in the dark. If I recall correctly, I was a PFC at the time, and if you had little to no rank and didn't grab 'em when you could, you were pretty much screwed when it came to chow.

So like I was saying, first up on the schedule, the toilets.

Grabbing a roll of life (toilet paper), I headed over to the crapper building. I was pretty excited to actually have a throne to sit down on, rather than having to dig another hole, pop a squat, and do the dirty deed... until I opened the door. The entirety of the building consisted of two lines of crappers, one about arms reach away (and facing) from the other line.

No stalls, walls, or anything between, or nuthin'.

Guts a grumbling from the crappy MREs I had been eating earlier, I said 'fuggit', and and side-stepped past a couple of other Marines to get to an open seat. It goes without saying that it wasn't a normal everyday experience to be 2 feet away from & facing another dude, taking a dump.

Of course, the Gunny decided to strike up a conversation. Gunny had too much rank for us to tell him to let us do our business in peace, so he rattled on... from both ends.

(Yeah, I know.)

Attempting to affect an air of nonchalance like it was no big deal to drop a loaf in a small room full of Marines, I reached into my cargo pocket and pulled out a letter that I had gotten recently. Dear old mom had written, and I had been looking forward to the opportunity to catching up on the family news. I hadn't expected to read it right then, but oh well.

One of the Corporals was yakking now about how, "if you stop to think about it, the Marine Corps is technically paying us to take a dump, right now. Whoa".

What, you thought all conversations were about Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, and Chuck Norris?

Did I mention that this was around my birthday? Yeah, I had kind of forgotten, myself (not much for that sort of thing).

Slicing open the top of the letter, the birthday card that she had included fell out and opened up. The strains of that tinny birthday tune started up, disrupting the room's conversation. I think it was the Gunny that started it, but when he was finished he had the whole group singing, all of 'em perched on the crappers.


It's nice to be loved.


jimbob86 said...

Crap. Now I have chewed tostitos up my nose...........

The mental image of a dozen Jarheads singing "Happy Birthday To You" "all of'em perched on crappers" was just too funny....

OK Katrina said...

You tell a great story, sir! I've enjoyed your blog for a while now and I look forward to checking it everyday for an update. Thanks for taking the time to entertain us all so well.

I would also like to thank you for your service and sacrifice to the United States of America! You are much appreciated!

Alison said...

Ditto on what jimbob86 said! Absolutely hilarious!!

Murphy said...

Too kind, too kind.