After we got back I switched to nights. It was funny, because when we used to get to work in the morning we always wondered why the night shift people would turn the air conditioning off and open the door. It was always hot! But at night time it felt cool. It was still around 90 degrees out, but by then that seemed cool to us.
You’d see more scorpions walking across the sand at night, too. I tended to not wander too far from the office. Working days I liked to get out, even if I had to walk to the other shops (it wasn’t a big area).
The last two weeks I was there we changed our schedule, too. We shifted from 6 days on, 1 day off, to 4 on, 1 off. It actually started to feel like too much time off, even though our shifts were always 12 hours. You needed one day off for laundry and an occasional haircut, but 2 days left you with time and not much to do. I never did go to the pool. I only went to the gym a few times. It was too hot to just walk around, though I actually did quite a bit of that.
When it got close to time to leave you had to keep checking on your flight. It was annoying because a lot of people who got there after me flew out a week before me. Once we got home we would get 2 weeks off, but it had to be in the local area. But I was heading up to see the boys, and already had a set time, so leaving Kuwait late just meant that I’d lose some of my free time off (I still had to take leave to go out of the local area).
When I finally left it was September 11th, 2002. The one year anniversary of 9/11 was not the best day to fly. For a week or two leading up to it our security had been increasing. Part of that was probably due to our impending invasion of Iraq, too. So I gave up my dorm room, and went to wait for the bus to the airport. And wait we did! We went to THREATCON Delta, as in highest security, and they weren’t going to let us leave base to go to the airport. Eventually we got on the bus. And then we sat and sat and sat some more. Finally we took off, with an armed Humvee escort.
When we got to the airport the bus just sat on the tarmac. We could see the plane, but couldn’t get on it. Apparently some generals were arguing about whether it was safe to fly on September 11th or not. The yes vote won, and away we went. We were only 5 or 6 hours late leaving…
By then I didn’t care if I got shot down, I just wanted to get off the damn bus!
On the flight I had a middle seat. And then the guy in front of me decided to put his seat all the way back and sleep. The whole flight. All the way to Baltimore, including 2 layovers. It’s so nice when people are considerate of others…
We stopped at Aviano, Italy first. It was in the mountains and very green. Beautiful! They wanted everybody to stay nearby, in case the flight was ready to go early. Unfortunately they didn’t communicate this very well. I sat in a crowded, uncomfortable terminal for 2 hours or so, and then got back on the plane. Of course the guy in front of me went back to sleep. All the way to the Azores, off the coast of Portugal. Here we couldn’t even get off the plane. They asked that nobody even get up, unless it was an absolute necessity. Fun times! It was a short layover, and off we went.
We flew in over New York. I could see the Statue of Liberty all lit up in the harbor. Gorgeous! And either the Mets or Yankees were playing a home game, because I saw a stadium full of people. It was nighttime by then. We continued flying on down the coast. We had been due in to Baltimore around 5:00 pm, but didn’t get there until 11:00.
C and D and I got a cab to a hotel. Shortly after we got settled in, each in our own room, D called. He needed help. I went to see what he needed. Emergency time – he needed his cigarettes and couldn’t get out of bed! His legs and feet were all swollen from the flight (he’s a very large man). I was about ready to choke him!
When I got back to my room I called home. It was great to talk to mom and dad from the same country again!
Johnny Unitas had died that day. Big story in Baltimore, of course.
C and I got up early the next day. We had a flight to catch, first thing in the morning. On the way he showed me topless pics his wife had sent him (he was very proud of her new breasts it seems) We flew through Dallas and then on to El Paso. So close to home! Z picked me up. It was a little annoying because instead of going straight home he wanted to go to the PX at Fort Bliss. I just wanted to be home, but oh well. I did make it eventually…