One way to deal with things that annoy you throughout a deployment, is to establish a routine in order to mitigate the problem. Especially if it is something you can't avoid. In my case, there is a phenomenon that, while living in Hawai`i, I never had to worry about - static electricity. It seems that everything here shocks me. Soldiers are masters of adapt and overcome. We are also, however, on the hard-headed side, so the actual adaptation sometimes takes a while. I was once told it takes approximatly 21 days to form a new habit. Well, since arriving here at Fort Dix, NJ I have been shocked well more than 21 times on various door knobs, bed frames or other metal objects I may come into contact with. That includes people too. I shake someone's hand or happen to touch someone while they're handing me some paper or some equipment, and I get shocked. Getting shocked 21+ times shows the hard-head part. As far as adaptation, I now take my key everywhere I go. On my routine shower or latrine trips (at all hours) I habitually touch my room key to door knob before I touch it. Whenever I am putting on or removing my snivel gear, it also creates lots of static electricity, so much so that when the key touches the door knob, I actually get a sizeable flash or an arc of electricity that is often audible. My unit members have heard my often acrimonious reactions to getting zzzapped by various pieces of furniture or equipment. I can't wait to get to theater, where I simply don't recall getting shocked like that when I was there the first time. If I could find a way to harness my own static electricity . . .
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Despite the fact that our Soldiers are the best-trained and best-equipped warriors on the planet, there are some things about the gear that we get issued that is most frustrating. While meant to improve the way we do things, it sometimes seems as if the designer made the stuff so that it would provide little annoyances to the averge G.I.
For example, when opening any random MRE dinner pouch, let's just say, ravioli, the pouch tears unevenly and when pulling the top portion completely off, it invariably splatters into the face of the Soldier, who is only trying to get a meal.
What prompted this blog was the construction of our new body armor. While is it incredibly effective in saving lives our troops, putting the pieces together seems more diffcult than "taking the hill." It is, at the beginning, like Christmas when you get a bike or some other toy that has "some assembly required" on the box and it turns out that "some" means just short of "invent." Fortunately, some very experienced Soldiers in our unit who were more than happy to assist those for whom this is a first deployment as well as the first time with body armor. Gathering together and putting together this Warrior's Puzzle became another bonding activity which brought out the strengths and experiences of different Soldiers. Once completely put together, the body armor makes one feel like Robo-Cop or a Starship Trooper. Fully loaded, a Soldier might resemble the computer-generated robot from the NFL games.
Whether it is body armor, MRE packages or other pieces of equipment, I always have the feeling that someone, somewhere (the designer/s) is sitting in his Lazyboy laughing when he thinks of a ravioli-spattlered troop or the expression on the face of someone who looks at a pile of gear saying "What do I do with all this?"