You never know where you will end up or when if you travel helicopter in Iraq. I had a 745 show time to go to Baghdad. I was manifest on the impressive sounding “Invincible”. After waiting around 1.5 hours, they called us forward to write our destinations with marker on our left hands. You do not have tickets and nobody can hear over the sound of the rotors. This is a good system.
When they call the flight, everybody goes outside and waits for a bus that drives around 200 meters down the tarmac where you line up and wait another hour or so. In back of me stood an Iraqi with two black garbage bags for luggage (his story later). Our flight came and we flew to TQ. It has a rather longer name, but I do not remember. We flew along the Euphrates, very pretty. It is a clear aquamarine color. I expected it to look browner, like the Mississippi.
We manifested in TQ learning the show time for the connecting flight was 2215. You see in the picture the waiting room. On the plus side, TQ has a nice chow hall, which like everything else is run by South Asians employed by Kellog, Brown & Root – KBR (more on that later). They had prime rib and it was good.
Anyway, you hang out. It kinda sucks, but it is not really that bad if you take the Marines’ advice and “embrace the suck”. There is time to think, time to read, time to write and time to nap.
The key to embracing the suck is to live in the present wherever you are. It is Zen-like – the eternal present. We live in a communal society over here, so it really matters little where you are. Everybody has the same stuff and you carry as little as possible because you have to carry it yourself. You do not need much, because everyplace you go you can get something to eat and a place to sleep. Once you have embraced the situation, things are fine.
BTW – I finally got to Baghdad around 230. The can they assigned me was very small and the bed uncomfortable, but since I arrived in the proper state of mind…I can embrace it.