Sunday, September 21, 2008

The week that was

SFC McG and I got outside the wire again this week by convoy. Because we were in a somewhat different type of vehicle this time, it was much easier to see outside as we were moving. The unit taking us with them on their mission even kindly provided seat cushions for the ride this time -- very much appreciated! The farther back in this vehicle, the bigger the bounce each time we encountered a bump.

Think of an amusement park ride without the amusement.

No puppy, either.

I can only fall asleep in a vehicle if I'm driving, so despite the fact that it was early and I was tired, the bumps and bouncing were not the reason I didn't snooze. It is amazing to me to see how other Soldiers can fall asleep in the most unlikely of places, at the drop of a hat. I am certainly not one of those people!

We passed by a lot of children while we were on the mission. Other than just a couple I was able to notice during our first convoy last week (vehicle with tiny windows, up high), I'd not seen any children here since arriving. Not a one of these youngsters was obese. If anything, many looked painfully thin.

Most waved and gestured imploringly to us as the convoy moved past them. I suspected they could not see us inside the vehicles, but I waved back to them anyway.

It was heartbreaking to see them, all of them in dusty clothes and many of them barefoot in the midst of the trash lining so many streets. One tended six sheep, each of which was larger than himself. One little girl, in profile, reminded me of my sister Ann forty-five years ago when she was five.

Inside the up-armored vehicle I seemed to be as far away from them as if I were back in the office or watching TV.

We arrived back 'home' fairly early, considering our other missions thus far. By evening of that day, we were in a dust storm that was so intense the visibility was only about 100 meters. We had a full moon that night, but it was completely obscured by the dust. Imagine San Francisco fog without the humidity, the chill, the hills, and the Bay -- or San Francisco, for that matter. Moving through the dust was like inhaling cactus.

I invite you to consider just what that "dust" consists of, especially given that we're in an area that's really, really hot much of the time (how do you spell "dessication"?) and not noted for fastidiousness (now think of a word that rhymes with 'dessication').... Add some strong winds, and voila! Inhale deeply.

I suspect my new round of upper respiratory crud (new this afternoon/evening) probably has something to do with all the wonderful stuff to which my respiratory mucosae were introduced this week. Sigh.

Then the dust settled (literally), and I seem to have annoyed some actual readers with a blog post this week, what with the 'comments umbrage meter' straining to contain itself without spontaneously combusting. My curmudgeonly heart swoons with delight -- someone's actually paying attention enough to have a reaction!


(It's not coincidental that this blog is named as it is, folks. Caveat lector.)

One final thing: Before I stopped drinking 29 years ago (if we'd had blogs then) I, too, would have left comments in high dudgeon -- anonymously.

But then *I* stopped drinking.

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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Anonymous said...


God bless you and your fellow GIs. Wonderful blogs and the saluting one really took me back to my Army days and the same type of official assininity.

We at TMC keep you in our prayers.

Best wished,

John Arnold

Unknown said...

Hi Tim,
Miss you. Mean it. We think of you often and hope you are getting to do some of the helping you were hoping to do. All the best, Valerie from Bio

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