Monday, March 12, 2007

A View From the Backseat

I went to Phoenix this afternoon on the mail run. I had a couple of things I needed to do up there, wanted to go to the PX and then hit Dairy Queen for a Mounds blizzard. (I wish they had Almond Joy as I love the almonds but the Coconut in the mounds was delicious.) Since I was just the passenger my main responsibility was to look out the window. I was thinking about my blog page and how I hadn’t written anything lately; mostly because I haven’t been in the mood and mostly because I haven’t been out and about so I decided to watch for things along the route that I hadn’t seen before that I could share with you. I hope you find even a small part of this remotely interesting.

With all the rain we’ve had lately you can imagine all the mud when everything is dirt around here. I saw a father and son shoveling water out of the “pond” that had accumulated in front of their store. The “pond” was probably 8-10 feet in diameter and from where the water came up to their ankles, knew that it was about ankle deep. I wondered how long it was going to take them to shovel the water out of their pond and throw it in the street. I then wondered how much of it just made it’s way down through the dirt in the road to find their low spot in front of their store. And then of course it rained later in the day and I’m sure just filled it up even more. What a job.

Speaking of mud and ponds, I saw two boys of about 10 pushing a wheel barrow through mud that came up over the tire of the wheel barrow. What was in the wheel barrow you ask? Two more little boys that were probably too little to wade through the mud by themselves.

Have you guessed yet, today’s entry is a mud themed entry. With all the shops that are along the route, the store owners sit outside waiting for customers. Where do they sit? In the mud. If they’re not sitting in the mud, their coats and Afghan “man jammy” shirts (I finally got mine but didn’t get a picture in them before I sent them home. So, if you want to see authentic Afghan “man-jammies”, as we call them here, you’ll have to come see me after I get home.) are hanging down in the mud. To them it’s a way of life. To us it’s a filthy, dirty way to live.

Walking through the mud I saw a father holding his daughter’s hand. She couldn’t have been more than two years old. What was so cute was that she was vigorously waving out our convoy. I wish I had my camera. Then I saw two little boys who were probably 4 walking through the mud holding hands. It made me long for the days when my own boys were that little and how cute they were before they grew up into obnoxious teenagers. OK, they’re not too bad but I don’t imagine I’ll see them walking hand in hand any time soon.

But the thing that took the proverbial cake was watching an ANP (Afghan National Police) vehicle driving on the other side of the road into on-coming traffic. Part of the road to Phoenix and back is actually paved and divided with a cement wall in between. Well this ANP truck came barreling up on the other side of the road forcing the traffic traveling in the right direction off the road. It wasn’t until a huge jingle truck was seen in the distance with no room to move over that the ANP vehicle was forced to find a break in the divider and get into his own lane. I couldn’t believe the audacity of the driver and of course since he’s ANP and most people hate and fear the ANP did nothing about it. I almost wish that a convoy had been coming along and had forced him off the road into a ditch or something. That would have been totally cool!!!

So there are my musings and observations of my trip to Phoenix.

Earlier that morning on my way to meet with COL Karim (I was fortunate enough to have borrowed a truck so didn’t have to walk in the, yes, you guessed it, the mud) I saw a soldier carrying another soldier piggy back style. It wasn’t Thursday so I wasn’t sure why he was doing that. It didn’t occur to me that they were heading in the direction of the base medical facility. Well on my way back who did I see but this same duo only this time the “piggy” on the back was wearing a cast on this leg. It then hit me why the one was carrying the other. The man on the back couldn’t walk. I was really impressed by the service being performed by the man doing the carrying. I can only imagine how much further he had to carry his friend and the fact that he was willing to do so impressed me immeasurably.

And there you have it. A day in the life of a boring FOB-bound JAG officer.


Anonymous said...

Would you really want to see your boys walking hand in hand as teenagers?

JAGMAN said...

No. However, it's such a common occurrence here - a symbol of friendship, that I guess I was thinking of it in those terms.