Deploying The Tea Service

, | TX, USA | Hopeless | April 4, 2017

(My brother is deployed and is suffering withdrawals from a particular flavored tea and asked us to send him some, which could cost us upwards of $60-80. I call the company for shipping advice even though I hate phone calls.)

Me: “Hi. I’m not sure if you know the answer, but my brother is deployed and I was wondering the best way to send two cases of flavored tea to his address.”

Rep: “Okay, I can look that up for you. What kind would he like?”

Me: “They only have the juices, so any of the flavored teas that aren’t diet would be what he wants.”

Rep: “Okay, what’s his address?”

Me: *gives address*

Rep: “Okay, this should ship in a week or so.”

Me: “Do you need a card for payment or something?”

Rep: “No, this is something we do for our service members to thank them for their service.”

Me: “Really?! Thank you! ”

Rep: “No, thank you for your family’s sacrifice!”

(They saved us money and totally made my brother’s day!)

You Need To Bring Some ID, Copy?

| USA | Working | February 22, 2017

(I recently got a new job on a military base. I lock my keys in my car on base and start looking for a locksmith. I happen to find one that says they work on base, so I call and set an appointment. The locksmith calls me to say he’s on his way. I assume that they have a way to get on base by themselves.)

Locksmith: “Oh, and can you tell me how to get on? The gate I usually take is closed.”

(I direct him to the next closest gate, again assuming he can get on by himself.)

Locksmith: “And can you meet me at the gate? I only have a copy of my ID on me and I don’t know if they’ll take it.”

Me: “Uh… how? You’re coming here to get my keys out of my car.”

Locksmith: “Well, the last few times I’ve come here I had them meet me at the gate so I can get on.”

Me: “Sir, I can’t. I don’t have any means of transportation.”

Locksmith: “Ok. Well, I’ll try my ID. But you should see about sponsoring me.”

(I have personally never done this and don’t even know if I have the clearance to do so.)

Me: “Well, let’s see what they say and I’ll look into it.”

(He hangs up but then calls a few minutes later.)

Locksmith: “Yeah, I couldn’t get on. They directed me to [other gate].”

Me: “Yes, that’s where the visitor’s center is. I’ll look up sponsoring while you get there.”

(He hangs up again and I call the visitor’s center on sponsoring and get the info. He calls back.)

Locksmith: “Okay, I’m here, but there’s a long line.”

Me: “Yeah, it gets crazy. Anyway I figured it out, you have your ID right?”

Locksmith: “It’s just a copy.”

Me: “No, I mean your driver’s license.”

Locksmith: “Yeah, it’s just a copy.”

(I know he said it earlier, but I had assumed he meant his military ID or something like that since we have a large number of dependents and retired members. It was then that he told me he had no photo ID on him whatsoever. I then told him I could not sponsor him and they simply won’t let him on. I was pretty angry and annoyed at this point because I spent an hour giving directions and figuring out sponsoring. I called the company and cancelled my request and when they asked why, I relayed this story. They were not pleased and did not charge me any fees, thankfully, and said they would speak with him. I was able to get my car unlocked by another company contracted with the base.)

Dialled With Military Precision

| WA, USA | Working | January 5, 2017

(My boyfriend answers a phone call at work but nobody has heard of the person the caller is looking for. He tells her she must have a wrong number.)

Caller: “Oh, well, is this [phone number]?”

Boyfriend: “Yes, it is.”

Caller: “Well, I get the impression I have reached a business?”

Boyfriend: “Correct.”

Caller: “Would you mind if I asked what business I have reached?”

Boyfriend: “Would you mind if I asked who is calling first?”

Caller: “Oh, yes, of course. I am calling with the Canadian Revenue Service.”

Boyfriend: “Well, you have reached the United States Navy.”

Caller: “OH, MY GOODNESS!”

Not Happy To Meet Your Happy

| Virginia Beach, VA, USA | Friendly | December 22, 2016

(I am on standing gate guard watch. Gate guard watch consists of checking IDs of everyone who tries to access the pier.)

Co-Watchstander: “GOOD MORNING! May I see your ID?”

Sailor #1: “Ugh, my head… Here’s my ID!”

Co-Watchstander: “Oh, another person! GOOD MORNING!”

Sailor #2: *groans and hands over ID*

Co-Watchstander: “I love standing watch on New Year’s Day! All the people coming in with hangovers!”

Me: “Here comes another one…”

Co-Watchstander: “GOOD MORNING!”

Sailor #3: “GOOD MORNING!”

Co-Watchstander: “…”

Sailor #3: “ISN’T THIS A FINE DAY?” *grins*

Co-Watchstander: “…”

Me: *laughs*

(The Co-Watchstander dropped the fake-happy attitude after encountering a sailor who seemed truly happy and chipper, or at least, who could out-fake-happy him!)

The Future Wave Of Humanity

, | Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan | Hopeless | November 25, 2016

This is just a little something that happened to me when I was deployed to Afghanistan with the British Army in 2012. It’s not much, but I like to tell it.

I was working out of our base in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand Province. On ops, every soldier (and Marine, sailor, and airman) on the base had to stand sentry (‘stag’ in the British forces) in one of the many sangars dotted around the base perimeter at some point. With the amount of people on the camp it usually meant that you went on stag maybe once every two or three days.

Lash was fairly quiet at that point, not much going on in the city, and so stag rotations usually ended up being relatively boring, although being in the city proper meant that we got to see some interesting sights from inside our sangars, or whenever we went outside on patrol…

In this particular instance I was on stag mid-morning. It was hot for October, and most crucially, it was one of the days of Eid al-Adha, which in the Muslim calendar is the end of Ramadan, and a time of feasting, celebration and giving — think a combination of Christmas and Easter.

Now, usually the streets of Lash were fairly busy, but fairly drab, too — a lot of black and grey and white and brown clothing. Not during Eid al-Adha. It seemed to me, up in my perch, that everyone was out in their best clothes and off to visit friends and family. While there was plenty of security in place, everyone seemed happy and high spirited.

I’d had a busy morning (up before 0400), and I would go on to have a busy day (head down at 0200-ish, if I remember rightly) but for those precious hours I was doing a simple job with minimal distractions.

You watch everything on stag; you try and cram everything into your tired eyes so as not to miss anything, but one moment stood out for me as I was watching that day. A group of girls came walking down the side of the road that passed the front of my sangar, all decked out in lime greens and yellow and bright blues. I think they must have been anywhere between 10 and 20 years of age (as you may have guessed, I couldn’t see their faces beyond the eyes).

As they came past my sangar, they stopped and looked in. They wouldn’t have seen much of me, in the shade as I was – perhaps the shape of my body-armoured and helmeted form behind the GPMG in the sangar window, and even that through the slats of the RPG cage. But they stopped and I could see them looking directly at me.

And then they waved.

Me, a foreign soldier, not even distinct, not really visible. Just another man in a uniform in their country.

They waved at me, one of them called up to me and said ‘Hello’ in Pashto; whatever else they said I didn’t catch.

I said ‘Hello!’ back, waved back, and then they walked on and were gone.

Thinking on it, I suppose for them it wasn’t much of a thing to do. They were just taking advantage of the freedom of the Eid al-Adha celebration to doing something a little daring: waving at the foreigners. For me, used to the usual endless procession of almost uniformly dressed (and 95% male) people in front of my sangar, it was a beautiful bright spot of humanity in my nearly-seven months in Afghanistan — that those girls had chosen to make a small connection with me on such an important day. It is a memory I will cherish, and it pains me that I will never know who those girls were, or what became of them, but their simple act replenished my faith in human kindness somewhat, and that’s something precious.

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