I think it says something about a place when pretty much everyone there considers monotony a good thing. In KAF, every bloody day is pretty much the same and that’s ok because anything out of the ordinary around here usually just means things get shittier. So, yeah, the overwhelming boredom is starting to grate as I reach the mid-point of this roto but that’s better than the alternative. Thank Zeus for all the idiocy that goes on in this place…at least it gives me something to write about and this week had its share.
That’s a First
I drive a shitty-ass, third world quality Toyota Prado here. Sure, the radio is overwhelmed by static if you turn on the rear defogger, there are no airbags and, even in 4 wheel drive, it lacks the power to drive out of 3 inches of gravel but I always consoled myself with the fact that the wheels didn’t fall off like they do the shitty-ass, third world quality Toyota Surfs so many people drive around here. Now, however, I’m concerned. A and I spotted our first Prado with a broken wheel-holdy-doodad. Uh-oh.
Cleanliness Ain’t Next to KAFliness
Given the wanton, feces-spraying, toilet-plugging savagery with which some of our roomies treat the washrooms, I’m really pretty impressed with how our regular cleaner manages to get them almost non-vomit inducing each day. Usually, the regular hall floor mopping guy also does an adequate job of spreading the dirt around and, perhaps by accident, actually getting some of it up off the floor. Unfortunately, on two occasions at least, the B-team has been sent in to mop the hallway…and by “mop the hallway” I mean morosely dragging a damp mop behind him to leave a single swath of wetness. Having one strip of slightly less dirty floor is better than nothing, I s’pose.
I know a lot of you who have never been to KAF think I make up some of the stuff I write…especially regarding the ubiquity of poo. Well, I’m not the only one! Here’s a Facebook status that was written by AC, a fellow Canadian who works for one of the other aerospace companies here in Poo-opolis
“The hiring in Kandahar seems to be based on your ability to walk upright. Went for my medical this morning and passed a guy from an unspecified 3rd world country who had just finished collecting his urine sample in one of the many chemical toilets around base. Somehow his hand was also covered in his own (I hope it was his at least) crap and this didn’t phase him in the slightest. Do not touch the door knobs at OHS. In fact, don’t touch the doorknobs anywhere on base”
Maybe it’s just us Canadians who think stuff shouldn’t be covered in shit all the time. I don’t know.
Rotten to the Core
Speaking of shit. What the hell, Monti? How the fuck do you make cake taste bad? I mean, I’ve had lots of not very good cake in KAF…it’s often the consistency of sawdust, sometimes has goddamn lard for frosting and is, generally, bland. But it’s always still been fucking cake and even crappy cake is better than no cake. On November 15th, however, I took a slice of a delicious looking cake and it tasted vile. I don’t mean…”oh, that’s not very good”, I mean “what the hell is that god awful festering rot I taste?” Somebody messed up big time…used sour milk, rotten eggs or, for all I know, made the thing right after handing in their urine sample.
And keeping with this “oh my fucking god” theme, Northline, there is such a thing as a happy median in the world of ripeness, ya know? Usually, DFAC kiwis are hard as a rock and pretty much impervious to the best plastic knife. With that in mind, I attempted to gauge the relative ripeness of them the other day using the somewhat limited tactile sense one can glean with a set of foot long tongs. I found one that “felt” softish and plopped it onto my plate. It looked fine from the outside if a little bloated and, once I could actually touch it, softer than I would normally expect “ripe” to be. As I cut into it at the table, up wafted a scent reminiscent of the fragrance one is greeted with upon opening that Tupperware container you left in the back of the fridge before you left home two rotos ago. The putrid juice was a milky, off-green. Oddly the flesh of the fruit itself looked normal…but, no, I didn’t eat it.
Ok, enough picking on the NL and Monti. They did do a couple of things that really took my attitude from “fuck I wanna get outta this place” to “fuck, I wanna get outta this place…but,hey, look, that’s not totally awful”. The Monti secret steak line, for one. Yeah, we accidentally walked into steak night again and, as usual, there was a giant line up for the steaks. It was then I notice one lonely server standing forlornly, tongs in hand, on the other side of the short order island thingy. Sure enough, he was just waiting to hand out what turned out to be pretty adequate steak. I guess it ain’t a secret any longer.
Northline gets props for assigning the guy with OCD to put out the salad dressing. “Did you see the salad dressing? It’s fucking awesome,” raved R. It was fucking awesome. I’m not sure how long it took him but it was worth it. They’re usually a jumbled mess and you have to flip them over to read the labels. This is goddamn perfection. Something orderly and sensible in KAF is a rare treat.
Your Arbitrary Rules Are Arbitrary.
Hey, I was in the military for 27 years. I know its really big on ridiculously complex and often irrational dress regulations. Like when the Canadian Airforce switched from green to blue t-shirts for wear with flight suits. The order came down as something like “Only issued, blue t-shirts are to be worn with flight suits effective (some random date).” Well that date rolled around but the supply system didn’t have near enough blue t-shirts to issue. So, people were getting in trouble for wearing issued green t-shirts or for wearing store-bought (i.e. non-issue) blue t-shirts. That was fun. Anyway, KAF is replete with silly rules like a faster speed limit on the aircraft ramp (driving around very expensive aircraft) than the one in force on most of the base or the stop for 3 (or 4) second rule the IMPs just made up, just to name a couple. One that’s currently got my goat for its arbitrariness is the “No hats in the DFAC” rule. Now, I have no dog in this race. I can’t wear hats on account of my ridiculously large ears. However, I gotta ask: “Why the fuck not?” It’s one of those irrational social norms that probably got its start in Victorian England or some other fucked up repressed society. I don’t like it.
Do Me a Favour
Oh, and Northline, can you do me a wee favour? Turn on the goddamn TV in the first seating area to the left as one leaves the food service area. Yeah, the one beside the condiment table. That’s it. D wants to watch sports highlights or games if they’re on. That TV was off for a few weeks, came on for one day (yesterday) and has since gone dark again and his whining is getting irksome. Yes, I understand that TVs are on in other seating areas but we sit in the first one to the left as one leaves the food service area because that is where we sit. Perhaps now you understand my admiration for the new salad dressing arranger.
Another good idea, Northline, would be to remove one row of tables from my seating area. You see it’s rather cramped, particularly given the propensity of some people of a certain North American nationality to sit with their chairs a good foot and a half from the table as they lean over to shovel food into their pie holes with their faces no more than a 1/2 inch (that’d be about 1.3 cm for the North Americans I’m not talking about) from their plates. Their concentration upon increasing their often already considerable girth precludes any ability to break out of their gorging revery to react to the polite entreaties of their co-continentalists trying to get by behind them. I think removing a row of tables would be easier than socially engineering a national culture shift.
While I’m on a roll alienating allies and trading partners, I gotta say the Brits are an odd bunch. D mentioned that he saw Prince Charles doing the hokey pokey in Sri Lanka (Sri Lankans do the hokey pokey? Who knew?). And he sucked at it. Sad really as it probably just illustrates the awful childhood he had. R, as our ambassador from Great Britain, pointed out “He went to fucking Eton where they wear fucking ties every day. I’m so sick of stupid fucking Eton”. She made a good point but then had to ruin it by insisting that the song is called “Hokey Cokey”. “That’s fucking ridiculous”, D enlightened her, “because it’s called hokey pokey”. D is right, you know. His wisdom was unstoppable as he continued “I’m really fucking worried about that jackass becoming the King…I mean…what if the hokey pokey really IS what it’s all about?”
Oh, and you Aussies…even though Crocodile jerky tastes like fucking dust it’s a hell of a lot better than that gummy, moldy-tasting Kangaroo jerky that leaves a fishy, oily residue coating one’s mouth. A, a man of extensive agricultural experience, informs me that “Kangaroo jerky tastes like mink shit smells”.
Surprisingly, not one Belgian pissed me off this week.
Pro-tip: Don’t read the labels on the various packaged products in the DFAC. I mean, do you really want to know that your “milk’s” #1 ingredient is water? R was less than pleased to find this out. I always figured milk’s primary ingredient was, well, milk. Of course, discovering it was packaged in Azerbaijan helped to at least explain the mystery albeit adding yet another level of danger to the product’s consumption.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Milla is a very fine company and adheres to the highest standards when they produce whatever the fuck it is they’re making.
Ok, Cambridge, your turn on the hot seat. Ya seem to have gotten a little confused about some pretty basic shit lately. Let’s start with the iced tea.
You’d think the “British” DFAC would have tea, hot or cold, pretty much cased, eh? Well, I’ve heard of Lemon Iced Tea, Peach Iced Tea, Orange Iced Tea…hell, any kind of fruit flavoured iced tea is acceptable (though Monti’s unflavourd/unsweetened stuff is still the best). I can’t imagine, however, anyone ever asking for a Coffee Flavoured Iced Tea. Yeah, that’s right. The iced tea was a horrible melange of coffee and iced tea. I knew something was up as soon as I espied the tea’s dark coffee-like colour. No, this wasn’t a simple labeling error like the Monti made, this stuff was a mixture of cold coffee and tea. Nauseating doesn’t begin to describe it. How about you get back to basics and try this recipe for iced tea: get tea, add ice.
Yeah, I admit it, I still don’t know what the hell “slaw” means but I’m pretty damn sure that anything worthy of the name will contain shredded cabbage. A great big slab o’ cabbage really has no place in such a dish.
If you’re gonna put “Turkey with Cranberry Sauce” on the menu you’d better damn well know what the fuck cranberry sauce is. I don’t care what they told you in Britain, cranberry sauce is not a watery, pink, gravy-like substance in which you cook the turkey. Cranberry sauce should be cold, gelatinous and retain the shape (rings on the bottom and all) of the goddamn Ocean Spray can it came from. Your “cranberry sauce” tasted vaguely of cranberries and overwhelmingly of disappointment.
Phew, other than the IMP surprise search of our accommodations, nothing exciting/too shitty happened this week. Luckily, I managed to convince them that we were not the droids they were looking for so they left our rooms alone. I’m afraid our toilet-plugging flatmates were not so lucky. I’m fucking heartbroken.
“People, chained by monotony, afraid to think, clinging to certainties… they live like ants.” – Bela Lugosi