Thursday, April 02, 2009

The horror of knick-knacks and sitars

It is called NBC - nuclear, biological, chemical - warfare.  First line of defense, gas masks.  In boot camp to drive home the lesson that a ill-fitting gas mask is a Bad Idea and that it's a Good Idea to get that sucker in place Real Quick this is what they make you do:

  • Strap on a gas mask carrier with gas mask inside.
  • Enter a building chock full of billowing clouds of tear gas.
  • Stand around for a few seconds while the instructor savors the moment.
  • Order you to don and clear.

If you get it right, the tear gas is on the outside of the mask.

If you get it wrong you have tear gas inside the mask with you and it fills up your lungs when you breathe.  Or if you manage to clear but not seat the seal around your face it seeps inside when you breath and then fills up your lungs.

Not Pleasant.  But it is a great way to clear your sinus cavities.  Snot comes running out in a big hurry after a whiff of tear gas.

But I have learned that the Air Force is a manly outfit of manly men and I will never diss them again for having maid service and living in dorms.[1]

For the day's climax, we sealed our gasmasks and lined up to enter a room where they'd demonstrate the masks' efficacy. Inside that room, some fragrant incense was lit, and if you could smell it, it meant your mask was not secure. In a wartime situation, that would mean you were dead. Of course, none of us smelled the incense until it was our turn to take the mask off. Then, smelling the scent, we were assured of how the masks would have saved our lives if that room had been filled with mustard gas instead of incense.

Incense.  My God, the horror: like shopping at a fussy store with a lot of breakable and non-interesting knick-knacks.  With sitars playing in the background.  Foreever.

[1] A lot of this is, yes, jealousy.  One, the Air Force has a lot of cool toys.  Two, the chow was superb.  The Air Force had such good chow that rather than eat the food provided many many of us would drive to Bolling Air Force Base and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at their dining facility.

So many of us did this that the Colonel ordered us to eat only at our mess hall when were on duty - essentially five days a week.  Seems there was some kind of complicated accounting rule (so that's why they made us sign in) and our mess hall was going broke because no one was eating there.

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