We’ve been to several barbecues since we first started in KAF in 2008 but these were all organized by our Canadian or Australian military customers. Last Thursday, however, we had our first company one to say good-bye to one of our subcontracted logistics folks, J2, who is leaving. It was, therefore, a bitter-sweet event…a relaxing DFAC-less get together for our staff coupled with farewells for one of our cheeriest team members.
Maybe you’d like to have a BBQ for your organization. It’s pretty easy to set up but, like most things in KAF, finding out what the rules are and how to satisfy them was the biggest hurdle. I found it was exceedingly easy to get this thing organized but that is possibly due to the fact that my role consisted of saying “Ok” when T said “We should have a barbecue”. L and T took care of the rest. Things they had to do while I sat on my ass included:
1. Get a Fire Permit. If you’re military, I’d suggest that your first step would be getting permission from your chain of command unless you subscribe to the “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness afterward than permission beforehand” principle. The permits are available at the KAF Firehall. The fire permit specifies that you are to use only 1.6 fluid ounces of lighter fluid per pound of charcoal. The 3 foot high flames indicated to me that T misunderstands either ounces or pounds, perhaps both.
2. Get Food. We got most of our food through the Independence Hall DFAC. They’ll calculate a cost for what you want then you have to buy daily meal cards that add up to that amount. You usually can’t get the cost to be an exact multiple of a meal card so you’ll up with one meal card with, like, $1.85 on it, that you can’t use. Salads are cheap and you get quite a bit. We got a pasta salad, which wasn’t too popular, and a mixed veg salad that was. Thankfully, the cheese and pineapple salad was unavailable. What wasn’t cheap were the hotdog and hamburger buns. They charged us $1.00 a piece. What the hell? Heroes (the Brit snack bar to be featured in a future post) had prawn salad on a bagel for $1.00. Being the
cheap fiscally responsible guy that I am, I suggested that we buy a bunch of the bagels, scrape off the prawns and serve the burgers on bagels. We could then save even more money by cancelling the salads and using the prawns in their place. For reasons I cannot understand, this suggestion met with derision from the profligate spenders, L and T. Luckily, we didn’t have to buy meat. After our Canadian customer shut down their unit, we discovered some hamburger patties and hotdogs in the freezer in our building. It’s ok to eat stuff you find, right?
3. Set Up. The best way to do this is to make yourself scarce while less lazy people move barbecues, tables and chairs into position.
4. Arrange Weather
We’d had days and days of typical KAF blue skies with the only dust in the air being that kicked up by vehicles. Of course, on the day of BBQ, the wind picks up and the dust rolls in. Thankfully, the wind wasn’t coming from the poo pond.
Dinner is Served
T did most of the barbecuing with D coming in as relief.The found burgers and dogs were both pretty good. While they’re the same raw material they use at the DFAC, cooking them over charcoal makes for a huge improvement.
We supplemented the meat and salads with potato chips from the PX along with abandoned Canadian soda.
One of J2’s friends who works for another company produced a GIANT watermelon seemingly out of nowhere. It was, apparently, imported from Helmand province. It’s exact provenance remained a delicious mystery.
KAF is a dry base, i.e. alcohol is not allowed except under the strictest of controls with proper approvals. We used to get two beers/month during the Canadian Military BBQ’s. We had to sign for the beer and drink it at the BBQ under the watchful eye of the unit Master Warrant Officer. This largesse ended with the Canadian contract.
So, we did what, at first blush, appears to be the next best thing. We binged on near beer….0% alcohol St.Pauli. After 3 of these (and 8 trips to the washroom) you begin to realize that “the next best thing” to real beer is no beer.
I think I’ll just wait for my next flight out on ESJ or DFS to have a beer. Yeah, you military folks heard that right…we get beers on the charter flights out of KAF pretty much right after take off.
We’ll surely miss having J2 as part of our team. She reminded us all of the importance maintaining a positive outlook and keeping a smile on your face no matter what KAF throws at you.
Having your own BBQ is pretty easy and a great way to build morale. I recommend you have other people do all the work so that you can be freed up to take the credit. Worked for me.