Friday, July 03, 2009

Scotty, beam us up!

Three nights ago SFC McGee and I played hooky from Summer Camp with my parents. They drove the two of us down to Gulfport so that we could meet up with my friend Stan who lives in New Orleans and who drove over to rendezvous with us. My parents adopted him as their fourth son while Stan and I were in the Jesuit Novitiate more than 30 years ago.

We drove along the coastline looking for someplace to eat, but to no avail. The damage from Hurricane Katrina to coastal businesses -- especially restaurants -- seems largely to have gone unrepaired, unfortunately for the locals. We finally ended up at a seafood restaurant not too far from the Gulfport Airport, and had a great dinner.

Since we'd met up with Stan in the parking lot of a Home Depot there in Gulfport, SFC McG went inside the store to see if he could find whether the wife of one of the Soldiers we'd befriended in Iraq worked there, but to no avail. Perhaps it wasn't the correct Home Depot. Rats.

Early Wednesday morning SFC McG and I showed up to have our PPD (tuberculosis) skin tests read so we could finish the medical outprocessing in about 20 minutes and get on our way. Our hope was that by getting that test out of the way as early as possible, we could then complete the rest of the remaining paperwork quickly, get our plane tickets, and blow that pop-stand by mid-day.

Instead, after we finished with the PPD test, we found there were about forty Soldiers already waiting in line ahead of us at one of the other medical buildings when we went to finish our medical outprocessing. That building, though new, is not spacious enough to accommodate large groups, so we waited outside. As the day was already quite warm (southern Mississippi in July, after all) at 0700 hours, the time spent outside on the bleachers behind the building seemed longer than it probably was.

I found a few flowers to photograph along the edge of the woods behind the building, and then read "The Soul of Sponsorship" (about Fr. Ed Dowling, SJ, the Jesuit who befriended Bill W., the co-founder of AA, and then served as his mentor, sponsor, spiritual director, and friend until Dowling's death in 1960) which my friend Stan had given me the night before. It's an easy and interesting read, and helped the time to pass more quickly.

SFC McG, bless him, was reading "Theology and Social Theory" by John Milbank, of which I've written a couple of times (and not with great affection, to say the least!). I admire his thirst for knowledge and his inquisitive spirit.

Upon finishing up our medical stuff, each of us picked up a prescription at the pharmacy (a couple of blocks away by foot), closed out our paperwork in yet another building, and went to the Transportation office to request flights home. The seemingly helpful young Sergeant took down our information, got our cell phone numbers, and told us we'd be contacted when the reservations were ticketed.

It was not quite 1000 hours at this point (two hours later than we'd hoped), but we still actually believed we might get out of Dodge by mid-to-late afternoon Wednesday.

1700 hours rolled around, and we'd still not heard anything, much to our chagrin. I especially felt bad for SFC McG because Mrs SFC McG was waiting in California to meet him, and they had been exchanging calls and text messages all day in anticipation of their planned reunion Wednesday night.

Once it became clear that we *weren't* going to get home Wednesday, we decided that Thursday morning we'd load all of our stuff into a vehicle and arrive back at the Transpo office at 0700, offload our bags at that office, and not leave until we were outta there.

When I mentioned this plan to my Dad Wednesday night, he said, approvingly, "That sounds like a course of action SFC McG probably came up with."

Correct, as usual.

I was more than ready to get home. Scotty, beam us up!

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

so glad to hear you are back in the States! Welcome home! An chance you will be back to CA soon?

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