I hate this FOB. There is a certain familiarity that can only be gained by walking. When you’re on foot, you are so connected to the world around you that the most common articles become instantly recognizable. This is why you never really feel at home as you do in the town you grew up in. When you were a kid, it was probably not uncommon for you to walk ten or twenty miles every day; every house, every tree, and every smell instantly told you exactly where you were. You knew where all the trails led, you knew what every back yard looked like and what was on the other side of it, and you knew what car belonged in every driveway. You were ultra-aware. As an adult, most people walk from their house to their car, and from the parking lot to their job and lose this connection.
When you walk around two square miles of sand, little rocks, concrete walls and porta-potties, the phenomenon is similar, except instead of invoking a sense of comfort like your old neighborhood, it just serves as a constant reminder that you are in fact locked in two squares miles of mind-numbingly monotonous, treeless terrain, where everything smells like shit. The thought that immediately follows: “you are going to be here for a whole lot longer.”
In the middle of the FOB, there is a softball field, which is really just another patch of sand with foul lines drawn on it. This is the afternoon playground for the Brigade staffers and supporting units, as the Battalions are really far too busy to entertain the idea of organized softball. It serves as a constant reminder of how much better those bastards have it.
Which brings up another interesting point; in the Army, as it was in the Navy and likely is in the civilian world for all I know, everyone truly believes that they have the hardest job in the world, and that everyone else just sits around with their thumb in their ass all day. Here is a common example of something you hear about thirty times a day:
“It must be so nice to be the (fill in the job title of any job other than yours) and just fucking jerk off all day! I wish I was the (fill in the job title of any job other than yours) so I could play softball and watch movies and never have any fucking work to do.”
In the Navy, we commonly referred to this as “Martyrdom,” and it would very quickly be met with a comment such as:
“Lord have mercy, hallelujah; nail this man to a cross! He is the hardest working mother-fucker on the whole damned ship… (pause)… sit down and shut up asshole, no one wants to hear your bitching.”
In the Army, everyone is doing this… all the time, so I quickly ran dry on witty retorts and now am forced to just sit there and listen to them bitch like everyone else. It doesn’t help that I admittedly do not have the hardest job in the Army, but guess what; I am not even in the fucking Army so leave me the fuck alone about it! Besides, I like to think that my job is easier because I am so locked-on that I never let it get out of control and don’t have to jump through my ass to un-fuck everything all the time, and because I am relatively low-profile and don't have anyone breathing down my neck all day. But what can I say, I’m an optimist. (I also don't have any Joes beneath me to screw my program up for me.)
The side effect of all this pissing and moaning is that there is a certain amount of guilt associated with taking part in simple pleasures such as going to the gym or reading a book. Maybe it’s because, that as a Catholic, I am very in touch with my own guilty conscience, but I think it’s more likely because you know as soon as you walk out the door that someone undoubtedly says:
“It must be so nice to be the EWO and just go to the gym whenever you feel like it, maybe when I get through this mountain of work I’ll go to the gym too.”
But my world doesn’t come crashing down just because I went to the gym for an hour, and it’s likely that theirs wouldn’t either, but they wouldn’t be able to cling to their martyr status if they did. Oh well, fuck them, I’ve got my own problems.
Disclaimer: These are all good dudes I’m talking about here; they’re just a little overworked.