So its been raining for like the last week. (Be advised these events precede Pigpen’s explosive hummer!) Now this country is nothing more than a rather large sandbox with really big mountains all over the damn place. I haven’t seen pavement or any sort of developed road since I left Bagram the last time. So needless to say, what do you get when you add water to sand/dirt? You get mud.
And what is it that we do around here? We drive around looking for the Taliban, and finding IED’s. Fun for us. Yet, more so now that the entirety of our section of this country has been turned into a rather large soupy mess! Now anyone who knows the ridiculously adolescent and immature outlook on life that the majority of soldiers have, along with their complete disregard for the situation that they are in, understands that this is a recipe for a whole lot of fun, and a lot of headaches for the senior leadership.
So they give us humvees, this country gives us mud and mountains, and we provide the stupidity. Here you have 10 humvees and this gigantic MRAP. Which is a “mine resistant something or another” The thing is about 15 feet tall, with a wheel base of about 8 or 9 feet (ish). These measurements are approximate. Anyway, they are not proportionate, and this thing swings from left to right with every little bump, to the point where there has been more than one gunner who has had to puke into a gatorade bottle in order to finish the ride. (Yeah, imagine the self control it takes to actually puke into a gatorade bottle.) Not to mention, this thing weighs like 38,000 pounds. It’s huge, and cumbersome, and basically a big, rolling brick of steel. Then they throw these rollers on the front of it. Mine sweeping is what these rollers are for. The idea being that they rollers will hit the mines before we do and then the explosion won’t hit the vehicle dead on. Which to me, defeats the purpose of building this big bitch in the first place. Its supposed to be able to take like a 1000 pound blast. Either way, the rollers hinder the movement of an already titanic vehicle.
Well, they give us all of that, and send us out to play. Now getting stuck in the muck around here is a constant worry because all that happens when we get stuck is we give the Taliban a good, long time to zero in on our position and figure out just how they are going to ruin our day! So moving is always better than being stuck. On top of that we have a lieutenant who has a real phobia about using the roads around here. I know that we shouldn’t use them, we haven’t used them at all in the months that we have been here. Its gotten to the point that the Taliban have started putting the IED’s off the road. Which makes off road driving all the more fun. So a choice has to be made. What is more important, staying off the road, or keeping your element from getting stuck?
Our lieutenant decided that keeping us away from the road was more important. Personally, with that MRAP in the lead and those rollers leading it, I would’ve kept our asses on the road. We’ve already proven several times over that all of our trucks can take an IED blast. So what the hell. (Kind of disturbing how cavalier I’ve gotten about IED’s, but whatever.)
So we stayed away from the road. We went out when there was a break in the weather. So we left with no rain falling, plenty already on the ground, but none falling. We got a weather report from our battalion saying that we should have been good for about 8 hours or so without rain.
So...when did it start raining?
About 8 minutes after we left. Army meteorologists apparently suck. Imagine that!
First problem, the turret is basically nothing more than a big circular hole in the roof of the truck. Sucks for the gunner because his head and upper torso are basically getting pelted with every drop of rain there is. But it also sucks for the guys on the inside because the rain is also coming down into the truck, along with whatever drips off the gunner. This also sucks for the gunner when he has someone like me driving for him, because as the rain falls and the puddles form, for some unexplained reason my foot gets really heavy and I hit those puddles (which are about a foot deep and about 20 feet squared) going about 35-40 miles per hour, or at least as fast as all the rest of the mud will allow. Which causes a tidal wave to reach up above the truck and smash the gunner with a face full of what I like to call Afghani douche!
Next problem, some people don’t know how to drive. I’ll admit that I drive recklessly, I take a lot of unnecessary chances, I don’t obey traffic laws or military regulations, and I put the truck in whatever gear allows for my arm to rest comfortably on the console, as opposed to the gear it should be in. However, I never get stuck, and I haven’t hit an IED yet. (Wait one, while I find some wood to knock on.) Nevertheless, there are people here who couldn’t drive if they were possessed by the spirit of Dale Earnhardt.
Then there is the ever present worsening of conditions as we are driving and it is raining harder and harder. The fun never ends, in this case, mother nature went so far as to make it better for me.
So there are three guys, myself included, who are rather large. We got one tipping the scales at 280, me clocking in at 260, and another guy weighing in at 240. Big boys. Anyway, we have assigned a few affectionate nicknames to the lot of us. The 280 guy, he is “Fat Bitch”, the 240 guy, he is “Fat Shit” and then there’s me, “Fat Fuck” This is just what military guys do, we find the weakest point in anyone’s appearance and we exploit it for the sake of comedy. Probably not real good for everyone’s self esteem but hey, fuck them guys. Riding in a truck with any one of these guys pretty much guarantees that you are going to set off all the IED’s within a mile of where we are standing. But whatever.
I tell you that, so that the following will make some sense. So I was driving, and Fat Bitch was gunning. Which makes for one of the more hilarious trucks ever to leave the FOB. We set off IED’s that we didn’t even drive over because the weight of the truck shook the ground for miles around. (Kidding)
Anyway, myself and this big motherfucker are driving around. And he and I are just mercilessly making fun of each other for being fat. Which is probably one of the stupidest things you’ll ever see, one fat guy making fun of another fat guy, for being...fat. What the fuck is that?
So as we are making fun of each other, I decide that I will use my position as the driver of this truck to punish this fat bastard. (Yeah, another fat joke) Now I have told you previously that the terrain in Afghanistan is probably the worst in the world. Nothing but huge hills and mountains, with jagged rocks and wadis, followed by large valleys that are nothing more than sand dunes with soft sand everywhere and the artificial bumps made by the locals to separate one pile of shit from the next. And all the accompanying shit that goes with that sort of terrain. Rocks, holes, ravines, canyons, goats, sheep, and donkeys... So needless to say its a bumpy ride.
Now the driver can be kind to his gunner, because we all know that speed is your enemy when you are hitting bumps. Or you can do what I did.
Which is hit every dip, every bump, every crevice, every rock, every thing on and around the road with as much speed as the convoy will allow. Now in a truck that weighs in excess of 17,000 pounds, even going 30 miles per hour is an adventure. Not to mention the brakes on this truck that I was driving had just been replaced. So they worked REALLY well. When you hit a bump at 30 miles per hour and then race up to the ass end of the vehicle in front of you and do a brake check where you stop this big ass truck in about 10 meters worth of space, what happens to the gunner is unfortunate, but hilarious.
This big mother was flopping around in the turret like a pinball. Every bump sent his upper torso flailing this way and that, bouncing his helmeted skull off the gun several times, knocking his body into the walls of the turret and just generally throwing him around like a rag doll.
Finally he got pissed off enough that he picked his foot up as if to kick me in the side of the head. I sensed the incoming blow and swerved to the left and slammed on the brakes all at once. Which sent this fat bitch careening head first into the turret and causing him to lose his balance and completely fall over and actually sit down inside the truck with a loud, resounding THUD!
He immediately released a stream of profanity that probably would’ve offended Caligula. To which I responded by calmly turning to face him, looking him dead in the eye, gauging the caliber of his rage, smiling cockily, and saying, “You aren’t going to do that again, now are you?”
So I laid off the bumps and shit for the remainder of the ride, but as I said before the rain had began to saturate the landscape and the puddles, which at home would be called ponds had begun to form. Now instead of bouncing him around the turret, I figured it had been a long day and he must be thirsty by now. I started hitting every one of these puddles that we came across. Hitting them with ever increasing speed and frequency. To the point where I think what was happening to him was somewhat akin to being water boarded. By the time he had caught his breath from getting hit with the first wave of water, he was getting blasted with the next.
Suffice it to say, he was really pissed! Fun for me.
He climbed back into the turret and continued his pinball like day. We finally made it back and he probably needed a chiropractor and a Swedish masseuse.
So that is it, this is what we do. We are here supposedly fighting a war, and what do we end up doing? Using the war machines that the US Army supplies us with the endlessly entertain our rather juvenile brains by torturing an unsuspecting and undeserving gunner. Well, he shouldn’t be making fun of me! Game, set, match...Mud Puppy.
Anyway, at least it was a fun day. Life is way too short to be pissed off all the time.
I love you Mom...