So I look around and realize that everyone who had weighed in prior to me was already out here and on the buses and half asleep if not completely snoring and dreaming about Pamela Anderson by now. So I light up a cigarette, throw as much of my shit as I can into the cargo hold of this bus and then I settle in, off to the side where the NCO's and Officers tend not to look for people. People they will see and give what are known in the Army as "Hey You's" Now a hey you, is nothing more than a senior ranking person realizing that there is something that needs to be done and since he/she certainly doesn't want to do it themselves, (I mean what is the point of gaining rank if you can't use it to your advantage) so they raise their heads and look around and when they eyes come across a person they yell in their command voice, "Hey You". Then they proceed to give the rather unfortunate chap the lowdown on what they have to do, while the senior person "seeks further instructions from higher". This always seemed to me to be code for, "I am going away from here so that anyone passing by does not wonder why I am not doing anything. If by some freak accident I run into anyone higher ranking than me, I will ask them if there is anything else they need done, and if so, I will promptly come back here and extend this little job of yours until I have pleased my superiors."
DISCLAIMER: I sometimes become melodramatic in my descriptions of people and events, this is not what I would characterize as lying. Embellishment for the sake of entertainment is a better way of putting it. All the stories are true and the people, while renamed, are real. The dialogue is real, but the editorial is purely my own. I don't want everyone to think that the Army is populated by a bunch of narrow minded idiots, because that is not true. Some of the greatest conversations I have had were in the Army and some of the most intellectually challenging people I ever met were in the Army. Conversely, some of the dumbest mother fuckers you are ever going to meet are also in the Army so I guess everything evens out.
))) Continuing the story....
So I manage to suck down about 3 cigarettes while the last remnants of our company pile their way into the buses which is fun to watch. The command group is desperately trying to get all of their gear that they personally own (laptops, cell phones, gps and the like) into the passenger compartment of the bus. You see, the Army in many cases, does not give you what you need to effectively accomplish your mission. Now anyone in a position of leadership in the Army is expected to know their soldiers and pretty much anything else that anyone might ever ask about them. I mean they have to know your blood type, boot size, pant size, shirt size, address, 2 phone numbers, next of kin, years of service, education level, sperm count, whether or not you're an Elvis fan, and how old you were when deflowered. So given the massive amount of data the Army collects (Army databases would be an advertisers wet dream) and also given the fact that the leaders are the ones who are expected to keep track of all this bullshit the majority of them make extensive use of laptops. So watching them drag this stuff onto the buses, that are already packed to the brim with soldiers who already have their laptops on board (however, the soldiers are bringing theirs purely for entertainment purposes) is slightly amusing to me to say the least.
Even funnier, is watching them set up shop on the bus. These exercises afford the leadership so little time to accomplish their missions that they have to utilize every moment they can to work. So seeing some of these men, in all their gear, sitting in a bus seat made just large enough for a garden gnome, and then they are hunched over their laptops. Their faces illuminated by the glow emanating from their computer screens, making their skin look greenish blue, like some strange creature from Episode #36 of Star Trek, furiously typing away, finishing up op orders, class outlines, training schedules and all the other useless paperwork that the Army never seems to tire of creating.
So finally, I get on the bus. I move to a seat and since I waited so long I am guaranteed to sit next to someone that nobody likes. In addition, I am sure to get an aisle seat which is depressing because I have what some might call a "fat ass" and since someone is already sitting in the window seat and with all their gear taking up half the aisle seat I am reduced to sitting with one butt cheek on the seat and one hovering over the aisle. Not to mention that every time someone has to take a leak, I have to smash myself up against the person sitting next to me in order for them to get by, essentially spooning with them so that this prick who should have gone before we left can get to the painfully small bathroom and relieve himself. Oh yeah, and I have to do the same thing when they come back. Unfortunately for me the rest of the ride is fairly boring. I put some Elvis Presley on my iPod and slowly drift away to sleep, until someone has to piss. Then I let them by and slowly drift back to sleep, until they come back. And so it goes. (Yes I am invoking Kurt Vonnegut)
Then we arrive at the airport, which is about 30 minutes from my home which struck me as kind of funny given the fact that I drove 2 hours to get to the armory and then 3 hours back to go to the airport but I digress on that.
Tomorrow, I'll tell you all about airport security, boarding a plane, and landing in Arkansas.