Saturday, January 03, 2009

No good deed goes unpunished.... (part 1)

I apologize that the posts of the last couple of days have been a little goofed up (the scripture quotes weren't showing up for some reason, which I just noticed). I've arrived in California for a few days' worth of R&R, having spent the better part of the past five days trying to get here.

I signed out from my unit at about 0500 on Monday morning, California time, and landed in California at 1600 on Friday afternoon. I'd hoped, having been released on the evening of 29DEC08 (Down Range time) that I might be able to get home for the New Year. Oh well!

SFC McG took me to the airport to sign out on Monday evening, and we learned that they wouldn't be flying me out until Tuesday evening, but that I needed to report in some four hours before we finally took off. I wound up at the end of the line of the personnel boarding the plane, and those of you who've ridden on those aircraft know how cramped passengers can be. On top of all that, some thoughtful person had hung up his or her backpack on a hook just above where my seat turned out to be.

This was somewhat problematic, given that a) it was very heavy, just over my head, and b) I could not sit up straight underneath it. Because we passengers were squished together so tightly, there was really no option other than to slouch underneath the Rucksack of Damacles for the duration of the trip. It's one thing to slouch, but it's entirely something else to do so when wearing body armor replete with Kevlar helmet. It's more than a little tough on the back, but at least I figured that when the Rucksack of Damacles crashed down upon me, compacting my spine, it wouldn't do much damage to my head.

We made it to where we were going without me getting clonked on the head, but I hobbled off the aircraft like an old person.

We got to the holding tank around 2200 hours, and had several "briefings."

There is, of course, nothing brief about an Army briefing, especially when they begin at 2200 hours -- or worse, when they begin at 0100 hours! At 0230, after being briefed up the wazoo, we were told our next "hard time" (it felt as though I was already *doing* hard time, but that's beside the point) was 0700 on 01JAN09.

Mind you, we were told this on 30DEC08. That's a full 29 hours before our next "hard time."


So much for getting home for the New Year. Oh well.

I'm extremely indebted to SGT K, who spent most of his New Year's Eve day (when he could have (and probably should have) been sleeping, since he works nights) showing me around the place, and reacquainting me with the other Soldiers from his unit with whom I trained up last February and March. That made my time in the holding tank much more bearable!

At our 0700 briefing (which lasted almost 90 minutes) on New Year's Day we were told that we'd be in lockdown starting at 1245. Of course, our plane didn't leave until 2330. Our time was spent having to take everything -- everything -- out of our baggage, dump it on a table, and have it gone over by Customs agents. Considering there were as many of us as electoral votes accorded to the winner of the last Presidential election, that's a lot of standing in lines and unpacking and repacking going on.

Well, now that I've been awake for two days, it's time to collapse and try to get some sleep. More later!

Blessings and peace to one and all on this Ninth Day of Christmas,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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