Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The Leprechaun's Final Week in Iraq
We had a case which required us to set up a surveillance of one of the camps. We expected to see some prostitution activity, based on a tip from a GI, but instead of Happy Hookers, we just observed people doing stupid stuff. It’s amazing how some folks assume that because it is kind of dark outside, no one can see them. One rocket scientist was apparently trying to convince a female soldier to become his “deployment diva”, but completely lost any headway he might have made with her by picking his nose for 92 seconds…yep, we timed it. She quickly walked off in a different direction without Nostril Man.
A few minutes later, a couple of the Ugandan security guards strolled over to the row of porta-johns. One went inside, and when he emerged a few minutes later, he was without his AK-47 rifle. Both guards wandered off into the darkness. Five minutes later, the unarmed guard raced back to the outhouses, and yanked open the doors of each until he found the errant rifle. (In our surveillance vehicle, we briefly debated grabbing the AK so some potential evildoer didn’t make off with it, but we settled for keeping our eyes on it.) In the meantime, three TCNs (Third Country Nationals) zipped by, riding bicycles without any kind of lights, and all three of the Lance Armstrong wannabes collided with a cable strung across the parking lot perimeter…they did a nice flying roll, retrieved their bikes, and pedaled furiously off into the night. By their lack of loud cursing, this kind of thing must happen to them on a regular basis.
Finally, we saw what looked to be evidence of a number of “Third-Rate Romance, Low-Rent Rendezvous” hook-ups. We’d see couples emerge from the dark recesses of the T-Walls, smooch, and then head off in different directions. Good to know love conquers sand fleas, camel spiders, and pit vipers. All in all, the surveillance was a voyeuristic waste of time.
We had to complete a long form called the “Post Deployment Health Assessment” (PDHA) on the computer, which is intended to document any illnesses or injuries resulting from our time spent in this hospitable country. One of the questions asked if I had seen any dead bodies while deployed…I thought at the time it would be a mistake to answer honestly, but I went ahead and marked “Yes”. A few days later, we all assembled at the Troop Medical Clinic to be interviewed by a doctor to complete the last part of the assessment. After waiting an hour outside the clinic in the rising heat, and then another 30 minutes standing in the hallway outside the doctor’s door, I was finally called inside. The Doc was a wizened gnome who might well have done General Eisenhower’s PDHA in 1945. He was also hard of hearing, having to ask me my social security number four times before getting it entered correctly. When we got to the “dead body” question, the Doc asked me whether I preferred to be treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at the VA or a private therapist. I told him that I didn’t think I suffered from PTSD, and wasn’t planning to seek treatment unless I developed symptoms later. “So, it’s the VA then for your therapy,” the Gnome replied. “I don’t need it,” I responded. “They’ll schedule your appointment at the demobilization site,” said the Doc. “Uh, Doctor, what part of “NO THANKS” don’t you understand?” I retorted, becoming visibly frustrated. “I can see that your combat experience has affected you,” the Gnome said… Sheesh, this was just like a scene from Catch 22!
Now that our replacements have arrived, and made it very clear to us they are ready to take over operations, it is obvious that some of my colleagues are having a hard time letting go. One of my fellow agents has a very hard time not doing everything himself, or at least looking over our shoulders and offering detailed guidance. Now faced with handing over his case files, his computer, assigned vehicle, and his desk, he is just about going nuts. (Good thing he’s also been involuntarily scheduled for PTSD treatment like the rest of us!) As for me, I don’t care because my cases are either closed or just awaiting lab results. If the new folks change my stuff, or don’t think I’m the best investigator that ever lived, I won’t worry about it, because I’LL BE HOME, SUCKERS!!!!!
With “four days and a wake-up” remaining in country before beginning the long journey homeward, the only thing I have on my mind right now is keeping my head down and getting on that aircraft in one piece. I promise to post an Epilogue after I have been handed my DD-214 (Release from Active Duty), which will close out this adventure.