Two’s Company, Three Hundred’s a Crowd

I arrived back in my hovel last Saturday after 4 weeks off. I know you all want to see slides of what I did on my summer vacation; however, that’ll have to wait for the very special “Ireland” episode of Just DFACS Ma’am but here’s a teaser: their public washrooms are very clean. For now, I’ve just got a few bouquets and several brickbats to toss around regarding the last 6 days. It’s been awhile since a Toyota Surf with a broken wheel-holding-on-thingy has been spotted so let’s start with 3 of them found over the last month (credit to M for the first pic). What’s the downed Surf count up to now? Like 13 or something? For fuck’s sake!

Spotted Near TMH, the Northline and the Roundabout

Spotted Near TMH, the Northline and the Roundabout

New Kid On the Block I’d like to welcome R to our KAF team. Formally, she’s taken over Larrisa’s logistics position. Informally, she seems to have her eye on Larrisa’s smartass position but while L’s technique usually just involved copious use of the words “Fuck off”, R is a little more subtle. Ok, perhaps R’s gibes were unintentional; I’m not sure. You see, she’s a tad younger than many of us…I had been an Air Force Captain for two years when she was born, for example…and she seems intent on pointing this out. I don’t remember the details of the conversation but R was describing with awe something her “very old grandfather” could do at 76…I don’t know, like use a remote or a cell phone or some such. “So, your grandfather is younger than my mother, thanks for that bit of info”, I whined. “And he’s not much older than me”, D added. Yeah, that’s seems innocent enough…but fast forward a day: “My partner is a firefighter here on KAF”, R offers. “Cool, I was a volunteer firefighter at home before I got this job. I’d like to go back to it when this is over but I think it’s a younger man’s game”, I said, with only limited braggadocio. “Oh no, you should see some of the firefighters here on KAF, they’re old as shit…er…not that you’re old as shit…you’re just…er…yeah…you could do it.”  I’d kinda prefer if she just told me to fuck off. Welcome to the team, R!

Fly By Day Fly By Night Organization

I used Aerotech Aviation to get into KAF from Dubai this time. We usually use DFS but Aerotech offers the convenience of a terminal 1 departure and better, albeit constantly changing, check in times. Aerotech used to be partnered with Eastern Sky Jets…ESJ supplied the planes and crews…right up until sometime less than a few days before my flight. My ticket said I was on ESJ flight 044 but when I got to the gate it said Eastern Horizons flight 304. “What the hell?”, I thought. Oddly, it appeared to be the same 737 that had been used by ESJ with the ESJ logo whited out or something. Even the emergency/safety cards in the seat pockets said Eastern Sky Jets. I don’t get it.

Fetch me some insulin

Fetch me some insulin

Anyway, the flight was uneventful…unlike on some ESJ flights, no overhead bins opened on landing. I was fortunate enough to have a seat with the very convenient “auto-recline” function which insisted I remain reclined throughout the flight, including take off and landing. The food, however, was another matter. I can only assume they’re attempting to appeal to the sucrose-craving palate of a hummingbird. The rubber chicken and rice entre wasn’t too sweet…it just sucked. This was followed by those Indian Timbit doodads soaking in sickeningly sweet super concentrated liquid sugar for dessert. Neither of these items were edible beyond one bite. Despite warnings going off in my head, I couldn’t resist trying the carrot jam. It had the consistency of jam but the flavour of…oh, I don’t know…fucking carrots made into jam, maybe? Uber-sweet goddamn mashed carrot spread on a dried out crumbly bun is not as good as it sounds. This was followed by a rather pleasant caramel type of candy that, rather inexplicably, had a cow on the label. It was at this point that my pancreas cried “uncle”. There’s no way that 3 “courses” of a 4 course meal should be made entirely of sugar. That just don’t seem healthy.

Radio Silence

What the fuck happened to the American’s Armed Forces Radio Network while I was away? I hear either static or wailing Afgani music at their old places on the dial. How am I supposed to learn about the American heroes who made their victory in the war of 1812 possible (jk…they lost), why the United States is the greatest country on earth or how to open a bank account without AFN? BFBS would be a decent substitute but one can only listen to so much tennis, soccer or fucking cricket coverage before falling asleep at the wheel. Besides, the BFBS signal is over-ridden by yet more wailing Afghan music all along the western perimeter road. I want my MTV CBC.

Lost in Translation

Actual photo of Steve Jobs contacting me from beyond the grave.

Actual photo of Steve Jobs contacting me from beyond the grave.

Despite my innate slothfulness, I’ve resolved to exercise everyday during this rotation. I’ve promised my wife I’d have one of those weird bumpy stomachs by the time I get home. Why you ask? Well, on the way here, as I was surfing the web on my iPad in the lounge at Frankfurt, pop up menus began to randomly appear, apps were closing, seemingly of their own volition. Turns out, my beer belly was making selections for me. I’m not making this up. It was a sign…it’s time to get in shape. One of our guys, ML, set up a TV, DVD player and speakers in the little gym by our office where I’ve been crying working out. So, I grabbed one of the KAF bazaar purchased movies that was lying around to give myself a distraction from the burn. It was “2012”, that awful movie based on the ridiculous premise that people who never invented the fucking wheel could predict the exact day the world will end. I’d successfully avoided having seen this tripe to that point but, what the hell, anything to alleviate the drudgery of exercise, right?

What? Huh?

What? Huh?

The DVD main menu offered both Urdu and English versions. Urdu being a silly language that uses words I don’t even know, I selected English. Surprisingly, the English version had what, at first, appeared to be English subtitles. This seemed rather fortuitous as my old man ears weren’t up to the task of hearing the dialogue over the steady thrum of a treadmill set on “pathetically slow”. The weird thing was, the subtitles made no fucking sense. Sure, most (but not all) of the words were English…but syntax, grammar and meaning have to count for something, don’t they? I can pretty much guarantee you that no one, at any point in that movie or anywhere else, ever uttered the phrase “Foulbrood Ojala could see I see!”

You Gonna Eat That?

Delicious "Stuff-They-Found-in-the-Fridge" salad.

Delicious “Stuff-They-Found-in-the-Fridge” salad.

There were some surprisingly good choices on offer amidst the usual poor->mediocre food at the DFACS this week. The guys at the Cambridge Chippy seemed to have mastered the art of the fish fry and it has been reliably good. D decided, for reasons known only to him, that the Cambridge’s Pickle/Cauliflower/Pearl Onion salad would be a tasty choice…and he loved it! Based on his rave review I tried the variation (this time including carrots) on offer the following night…and I’ll be damned, defying all known laws of nature, it was fucking delicious.

Not a fucking clue.

Not a fucking clue.

D also went for the “Fruit Pie”. What kind of fruit? “I’m eating it and still don’t know what kind of fruit is in here”, D protested. “It’s purple and blueberries are the only fruit that colour”, I suggested. “Do you see any goddamn blueberries in there? I don’t.” he snapped before adding cryptically “It could be pineapple but it doesn’t taste pineapple-y” and finally yielding to yet another KAF culinary beatdown, “Ahh…who cares…it tastes good”.

The camera does not do the colour justice. No...they're not fucking peaches, smartass.

The camera does not do their colour justice. No…they’re not fucking peaches, smartass.

D isn’t the only one with a fruit mystery on his hands. Northline just started offering pre-packaged fruit cups. I was mesmerized by the pinkish-orangey glow emanating from their pristine plastic bubbles. “What delightful confection of Mother Nature is this?” I wondered as I stood bathed in their aura. I’d never seen any fruit with quite that vibrant a hue. Just like D’s mystery fruit, I had no idea what fruit they were even after consuming the entire package along with the ultra-high-fructose corn syrup in which they had deliciously lain since being lovingly packaged in some far off exotic factory. Yeah, I liked ’em.

Larvae infested or not...this is just gross.

Larvae infested or not…this is just gross.

It was Banana Day at the Northline. “One banana, please”, I said. So, I took my two bananas back to the table. I ate one. Being loathe to waste food knowing there are starving people in the world hungry, I was considering eating the non-disgusting half of the mushy one when D decided to regale me with tales of fruit fly larvae which live inside bananas and make them look exactly like the one on my tray. Ok, I don’t know if D is full of shit on this count or not but, really, Northline Banana Distribution Guy, can ya maybe not give out the brown, oozing, slimy bananas anymore?

An Excretion?

A tuber excretion? I can’t take the chance.

A few days a week, the Northline lays out a Potato Bar. It has baked potatoes and sweet potatoes and assorted toppings like butter, cheese, sour cream, green onion and chopped broccoli available. I like potatoes. A lot. I think the Potato Bar is a great idea but I have a couple of issues with the execution. The baked potatoes look sweaty. No food should look like they’re perspiring but there’s a decidedly sweat-like sheen on all of them. Sure, intellectually I realize it’s probably just condensation but, emotionally, I can’t really be sure it’s not spud sudor. R said they were really good…but she’s Scottish so…well…you know.
Super Cream

Super Cream

There’s also a bit of an issue with the sour cream. I know, I know, I’ve complained about it being shlumpy or watery before so I should be happy that it has some substance to it now. But, come on, this is ridiculous. D suggested it was a little too thick…for use as plaster of paris or concrete…much less as a delicious dairy topping.

Niagara Line Up: Why are you here? Go away?

Niagara Line Up: Why are you here? Go away?

That’s My Queue

Where the fuck did all these people come from all of a sudden? And why do they insist on eating when I want to eat in the DFACS I want to eat at? I thought this place was drawing down as the Afghans prepare to take control of the utopian wonderland ISAF has bequeathed them. With A working the night shift and R off at the sock hop or whatever the young’ns are up to these days, it’s just been D and I at dinner lately. Having noted some longish line-ups in the Cambridge my first couple of nights back, we decided to give the Niagara a try. Holy shit! The queue was out the door! With a muttered “Oh for fuck’s sake” I suggested we head on back to the Cambridge.

I just want to wash my fucking hands!

I just want to wash my fucking hands!

While the line at the Cambridge wasn’t as long as the Niagara’s, the hand washing area was chock-a-block. The situation was not helped by the rather large guy who seemed to think he could only use the already occupied hand wash station immediately inside the door rather than the fucking six open ones further in. A couple of “Oh for fuck’s sakes” later I was able to maneuver around pokey to wash my hands.

Get out of my kitchen!

SERENITY NOW!

I was pleasantly surprised to see rather short lines at the main steam line and secret line. I was then unpleasantly surprised to find out that this is because the main menu items sucked. The line at my old standby, The Chippy, was longer than I’d ever seen it. D was convinced that the fish would be under-cooked due to the crowds and the staff feeling rushed…but he was wrong. When we finally got it, the fish was worth the wait…particularly once I realized I was in fucking KAF…what the hell was I in a hurry for? “Patience”, I said to myself, “this place will still suck in 15 minutes.”

We should not be standing here.

We should not be standing here.

Even the Northline has had ridiculously long lines, particularly at lunch. This is the worst queue because you end up standing outside in the 40C heat listening to A become obsessed with the fact that the line goes through the “wrong” break in the rocket walls. There’s a sign pointing to the “eat in” entrance but whoever first forms the line always ensures it snakes through the “DFAC Office Only” break. Sure, they both go to the same place eventually but A has a point. I admit, it does disturb my sense of order as well…I get it…but, A, I don’t think it demands a 15 minute filibuster a la “roundabouts” or “mud on concrete”.

Waiting for them to raise their shields.

Waiting for them to raise their shields.

You may be thinking “Hey, why don’t you guys try the Lux?” Well, that’s because there was an urgent requirement to repurpose the Lux parking lot for “Tactical Vehicles Only”. I’m assuming they’re some cool type of super secret MRAPS equipped with a Romulan cloaking device…because there sure as shit haven’t been any visible tactical vehicles parked there. See that spot? Right in the middle, yeah, that one. That’s where I used to park when we went to the Lux. Yeah, yeah, I know, we could walk to the Lux. Fuck you, I’m too tired from the goddamn treadmill.

What a Mensch

I feel much safer.

I feel much safer.

I’m impressed that the IMPs can find time in their busy schedule of busting wanton 34 kph daredevils to help rein in those bastards who have to audacity to load their vehicles in loading zones. It seems one of the military guys we work with took his vehicle to the Lux to pick up a prepared lunch for the 20 or so folks on shift. That’s a schwack of food. So, he pulled up to the area marked loading zone and went in to get the food. He came out to find an IMP writing him a ticket. The conversation went something like this: “Sir, this area is for service vehicle only”. “Well, I’m picking up lunches for our unit so, in essence this is a service vehicle” “No, it’s not”. “Well, the sign says loading zone and I’m loading”. “No, you’re not. You have to park up at the corner”. “Sigh”. “Hey, I’m not one of those MPs that acts like a jerk so I’m only going to give you a warning”. “Thanks?” Our poor co-worker then had to make several trips back and forth between the corner and the DFAC carting food. Not sure his life was improved.

Bottom Line

The older I get, the closer the number of people I can tolerate at once approaches zero. “The mass, whether it be a crowd or an army, is vile.” – Benito Mussolini .

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5 thoughts on “Two’s Company, Three Hundred’s a Crowd

  1. Always enjoy your posts. I left KAF in July, 2007 after a year. I actually lived on a FOB No. of KAF. Ours was actually the compound the Taliban used to sight rockets over trying to hit KAF. I was on KAF a couple of times a week taking patients to medical, and to and from the flight line, and then for a few weeks when our compound flooded. Thanks for bringing back memories. Some good, some not so good. I had good times with great friends there…at the Green Beans Coffee shop and the Dutch Echoes. And who can beat fresh donuts in 110 degrees F from Tim’s?
    Thanks again!

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