Friday, December 01, 2006

CQ duty

Command Quarters duty does not rank highly on most soldiers' lists of menial jobs that the Army makes us do.
I've been on CQ now for just over four weeks, fourteen hours a day, six and a half days a week. This job requires a lot of sitting behind a little plywood reception desk throughout the midnight hours while the rest of the command quarters personel sleep back in their seven by fourteen SHUs (Service Housing Unit, I believe), more or less glorified disembodied semi-truck containers in actuality. Officers and the higher ranks of enlisted members get SHUs. SHUs are the luxery penthouses of Iraq. The rest of us crowd into the crumbling concrete office or storage builidings that Saddam cleared out for us. Needless to say there were no mints on our pillows when we arrived. We've had to make do by building plywood cubicles for some semblance of privacy.
Back in the command quarters, everynight we occupy ourselves with whatever few jobs we can sweep up. Literally sweeping, itself, being the most consistant. It's freakin Iraq. There's dirt everywhere. Dusty dirt. We sweep (by we, I mean I tell the lower enlisted soldier working with me to sweep) and a vague cloud of dust kicks up and hangs all throughout the building until the fire alarms start going off. So we take out the batteries and sometimes forget to replace them. I wonder if it's a felony to tamper with fire alarms around here. I began wondering this earlier tonight when I found that I had forgotten to replace the fire alarm in the Commander's office.
We also catch flies with our bare hands. It's frikin Iraq. There are flies everywhere this time of year. I began teaching this subtle combat art to the lower enlisted soldiers working with me so they could vent out some of their being forced to sweep frustrations. For beginners I recommend going after sitting flies. But eventually you can catch flies right out of mid air like a lizard's tongue.
I began learning this in the sixth grade at the small farm school I went to where there were no air conditioners and the doors were kept propped open during the summer to catch the Oregon summer breezes. Those were good tackle-football-when-the-teachers-aren't-watching days.
Lastly, I've spent some considerable time reading books. I've wanted to get paid to read books my whole life. And now I do. Who would have thought that the shoot em up Army would be the first to give me such a deal? For this reason, I thrive on CQ where other soldiers wither and dry up like the little fly skeletons we shake in our hands and slam on the ground.
And I suppose I resent the peace and boring quiet even less so as a result of my prior three months here and my two encounters with the world of getting blown up. Again, it's frikin Iraq. There are bombs to blow you up all over the place, but less of them at the CQ desk. In fact, as far as I know, there's never been a buried IED next to the CQ desk. I don't mind not getting blown up. I used to mind, about five months ago. But I don't really plan on ever minding again.


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