Thursday, March 06, 2008

Not another day at the office

I'm getting closer to my return date and as such my thoughts at times turn to what life will be like as I put down my weapons, change out of the army outfit and get back to a more white-collar lifestyle as a business consultant.

What kinds of adjustments will I need to make?

I had this strange feeling today of "how cool is this?" or "not many U.S. folks get to experience things like this" as I spent a good deal of time working with my National Police counterparts today. We weren't doing anything extraordinary, just something I'd never dreamed I'd be doing (nor have I ever aspired to it- but the Army made me quartermaster for quite a few years regardless). We're doing inventory, checking keys, and I'm essentially giving them the training center. So there I am, with my interpreter, and General Sabar's logistics guys. I was as comfortable as I could be- just a bit of sweat as it is now getting into the 80's, and we were moving around quite a bit. Surrounded by people who's language I don't really speak. We work well together, though. We definitely have different approaches to things, but I think they trust me to know that I have their best interest at heart, and they aren't just nice to me because I'm giving them a lot of stuff. Not only did I not mind being the only American at the training center, I rather enjoyed it.

I was genuinely pleased as my counterpart general showed great enthusiasm as he showed me how they were working to put everything in order in the billets that had been left in regrettable disorder at the end of the last training cycle. They really have done a good job of taking stewardship of the training center over the past month. I have been willing to profess mistakes I have made, and they have readily forgiven me for those shortcomings.

I haven't "gone native" even though I do more work now with Iraqis than I do with U.S. personnel. I enjoy good Iraqi meals, but I avoid their standard "army fare" which is not too appetizing to me. While I work mostly with Iraqis, my down time is mostly with U.S. folks or by myself. I like quiet time. I guess I can kiss the quiet time goodbye upon my return to my family, but that's ok. I can hug my family members and read them stories without the use of an interpreter. The close physical contact of family is something I miss sorely out here.

It was a good day, and I've been blessed to have many of them here in southern Iraq. I was safe. I worked hard. I laughed. I felt the work I did contributed to the efforts to bring peace and stability to this country. I won't miss the uniform, the smells, the various inconveniences of life in my current situation. But I'll miss many of my "brown brothers", with their various mannerisms and practices, just as I already miss many from BLP, the company that ran the training center previously.

About 1.5 to 2 months left. That's about right. And I'll soon be passing the torch to Steve. I will wish him well as he joins a fraternity of "contracting officer representatives" that have haunted the halls of the hallowed Numaniyah National Police Training Center. His experience will undoubtedly be different than mine- he's opening a new chapter here. But I hope it is a chapter of progress in this country which has suffered so much for so long.


JasonC said...

Sounds like you've done a lot of Dana! Excited for you to come and (sometime) make a trip up to Seattle to see, what, HALF of your OB class??? ;)

Dana said...

OK- if I make a Seattle trip I better score a bunch of Microsoft, Amazon, and Hitachi swag.

I'll get you a discount on some hardware.