Embracing The Suck – Part One
You probably think this has something to do with sex. It doesn’t. In fact it’s about the farthest thing from that topic I can imagine. Sorry, but at the moment I have more important things to worry about. We have a saying here in Afghanistan, actually several forms of it, all using the term “The Suck.” I am in ‘the Suck.’ It is as much a state of mind as it is a penname for Afghanistan, and it captures in a phrase the … joy … of being here. Embracing the Suck is merely the act of unclenching, letting it happen, and trying to avoid the pain.
Snapshots of The Suck through Ranty eyes:
Confusement. We’re trying to create an Afghan unit from scratch. They fly helicopters - Russian helicopters. Occasionally, those helicopters need fixed. Easy, right? No. There are standards the Army uses, standards the Russian manufactuer requires (to prevent voiding the warranty), and other constraints. All of this made me actually say this one day: “So you’re telling me we’re waiting on people in Alabama to interpret a Russian manual and give us permission to have an Afghan learn to fix a machine purchased by the British that currently is sitting in the Netherlands?”
Allergic. In 43 years I’ve been exposed to all kinds of substances, pollens, foods (live and dead) and people. Never once have I reacted to anything other than stupidity until I arrived in Kabul. The air here apparently is making me react, and experts (such as they are) tell me the high level of fecal matter suspended in the air causes ‘some issues.’ To whatever you’re saying right now I’d respond with “Yeah, no shit,” but that simply is not funny right now. I need to dry clean my lungs.
Shower. I’m unusually clean for someone trained to live in the woods for weeks at a time. How completely awesome it is that shit breaks here so often that a cold shower is a weekly occurrence? Then, last week, all water everywhere got turned off. Why? Pipe rupture – no. Shortage – no. Reason: local insurgent activity prevented the shit-sucker sewage trucks from coming to suck our shit. All water cut off to prevent us from drowning in our own shit. Clearly if the air is full of it, taking laps to work and back is verboten.
Administrivia. Bureaucracy sucks, but nowhere has it been elevated to the Olympic event we engage in here at Camp Morningwood. I’m a senior officer in the Army with 20 years’ experience, and I get my memos for information (as opposed to important ones, like for a decision) kicked back to me by the oxygen-deprived echelons above me because … wait for it … I used 11-pitch font versus 12-pitch font. And yes, had I used the 12-pitch the memo would have been longer than the mandatory one page, again kicked back. I love idiocy. These assclowns need to take their stapler and go to the basement where they belong.
Somebody please kill me now.