Still on my way to wait
“They’re not answering,” said the private on watch.
“What do you mean they’re not answering, try again soldier,” I said.
“Sergeant, I’m sorry, but there’s no answer.”
“It’s okay. Don’t sweat it.”
The private was becoming frustrated.
I – well, “we” now that I had this soldier involved, were trying to fight against a very old and ancient system.
Historians and scholars would uncover only the rudimentary facts of the situation: that I was supposed to be in Baghdad by now, on my four-day assignment; my flight had been changed; and now, for the second straight night, the keepers of the helicopters were ignoring me.
Well, that last bit was too much. They would see only that there was no answer at the aviation brigade phones, but the deeper and desperate battle clashed under the surface – between the facts.
I, like this private, had worn the wrong ranks to this war.
No amount of complaining filed or otherwise, would help either of us in this struggle. Tonight, we would sit for hours, waiting for a scrap of info that would never come.
“I just can’t help you,” said another aviation unit we dialed up. “Who? Oh, sorry, no room,” chimed a third.
The private, poor schlep, sitting at a desk answering phones at 0300 with a sergeant standing over him, and me, there in the hopes of gaining permission to wait at another station two miles away, on a cold, wet tarmac, to fly south to wait somewhere again for someone to hopefully pick me up – we were both in perpetual suspense.
It was our lot to always wait — for instructions, changes to instructions, policies, changes to policies, formations, on and on. The end of “time off” was never more than a superiour’s shout away. And lack of sleep or food was hardly a concern for those involved.
But that’s cool, though, we were enlisted men. We knew the drill.
Bah, don’t mind me, I’ve just been up for awhile, and am a little tired.
It will blow my mind, though, truly will blow my mind, when I do re-enter the civilian world and am seen as a partner in some enterprise again, instead of this “tool to meet an end” paradigm.
It’ll be cool to seem like I matter again.