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.


23 Responses to “Embracing The Suck – Part One”

  1. Embracing the suck sounds like a really nice term…what do men in upper grabassistan smell like after a week with no water? Make your next memo in Comc Sans…just for shits and giggles! (or better yet- wing dings)

  2. Dude, I so appreciate you sucking up all that suck over there. Really pissed to hear about your conditions. Our soldiers at least deserve feces-free air. Hang in there, Warfighter. Get home safe.

  3. I’m going to start using that term around work. Thank you.

  4. I see Rants that military bureaucracy hasn’t changed much in the three decades since I left the business. Too bad. But your shitstorm of a problem does illustrate an axiom that the President tried to emphasize when he uttered the phrase, “You didn’t build that . . . ” This has been used out of context ever since by his political foes to accuse him of demeaning entrepreneurs. What he meant instead was that any enterprise needs infrastructure to succeed and that such infrastructure is the product of much collective labor done outside the enterprise and in preparation for it. In your case, the example is sanitation, something basic to civilization anywhere.

    Hang in there, Rants. At least you are providing good evidence of how not to nation-build for the next time America tries to do it. Whether that will be sooner or later, we’ll find out November 7.

  5. And now I understand the big push for multi-fuel engines in our military vehicles. It’s not so you can fuel your Humvee with JP-8, or alcohol, or whatever passes for the local equivalent of fuel. It’s so they can burn all the BS the military bureaucracy produces! We have finally achieved renewable energy! (Yeah, if only.) 😀
    Want me to dig out my WW1 gas mask and send it to you? After all, traces of phosgene or mustard gas have GOT to be better than crap in the air….. 😉

  6. “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?”

    love this. Makes me think of what things will be like in the future and we deploy robotic drones to do everything. Then you’ll be trying to remotely pilot a robot to educate individuals on fixing machines with parts from every country in the world that are no longer produced and never designed for repair but rather complete replacement. Of course, at least you’d be at home and you could get a shower when you unhooked yourself for the day. And if the base were overrun, you could always remote detonate. Then you’d probably get charged for destroying military equipment.

  7. Having just lost my job in a bureaucracy I can certainly understand your angst! At least we had running water, except for the 1 day when the toilets backed up so bad they had to shut it off. So I guess when the sh– is flowing, even in civilization, they shut the water off.

  8. There’s high fecal matter suspended in the air?.. nooo?!? its part of your war arsenals on stock, concentrated methane – humo indigenous byproduct..

    so its really not rocket science that you can remote detonate? 🙂

  9. The crap-o-meter is going crazy over this one. (although the font issue is so typical of such organizations in public sector, too)
    Would it complicate your life if a link to your blog was listed in a post?
    – no real commentary other than maybe “people you really need to read this….just turn off the video games and stop shopping for just a second and read…it’s short….won’t interrupt your life much…not like these guys are having their lives interrupted”
    A stop whining and wake-up post?
    Know sometimes things gets difficult in the military if anyone raises their head up too much. Will wait to hear.
    Hang in there…won’t tell you to take a few deep calming breaths since that sounds hazardous.

  10. whiteladyinthehood Says:

    I know you don’t want any sympathy, but I’m truly sorry it sucks so bad.

  11. […] Brainrants – it’s short…hopefully addictive…need to be aware.  Click over there here. Texas State Fair (Image: […]

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