June 03, 2005

And now for something completely different

(yes I like Monty Python) I wrote this post about one of my days at the ranges last week. I hope you all enjoy. (Feel free to critique. I am always looking to see how I could improve my writing.)

It was a clear, cool morning, the first light of dawn touching the sky as Cat quickly rushed out of her room in the barracks. Twenty minutes earlier, her alarm and gone off, its shrieks piercing what had been a restful night’s sleep. Cat rolled over and punched the snooze button, groaning as she knew that today of all days she could not afford to lose a minute. A million different things went through her mind as she brushed her teeth and washed her face, most of them along the lines of “I hate being up this early”
Cat hurriedly pulled her uniform on, thinking upon the fact that she quite possibly wouldn’t be doing that for much longer. “No, no time to dwell on that this morning; need to get out the door.” She put the thought from her mind and began to gather up the items she would need for the day ahead. The previous night Cat had cooked up a couple of egg muffins for breakfast this morning, as MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) breakfasts are not so good. As she grabbed her bags, Cat ran down her mental checklist to ensure she hadn’t forgotten anything. Kevlar? Check. Water? A must in the hot GA sun. Books and food? Couldn’t survive without those. Time to grab the keys and go.
As so many of us do, Cat took little notice of her surroundings as she rushed to her car. Her beloved baby had been giving her problems, but this morning she started right up. Cat loved her little car, a two door Honda Accord coupe that had been passed from her Grandmother, to her Mother, and then to her. Cat had promptly named the car Leilu, and took great pride in maintaining her appearance. She checked her CD player to make sure her “morning mix” CD was in there, and then changed the track to her favorite song. As she put the car in gear and pulled out of the parking lot, she began to sing along, as there was nothing like singing loudly to perk one up.
It was a short drive to work, and she parked her car and unloaded her gear, saying hello to her 1SG as he also pulled in. Cat was a perpetual early bird, often arriving before anyone else did, and usually this led to her sitting in the hallway waiting for someone with keys to open the doors. As she entered the building she located a spot to place her gear while she went upstairs. Cat had left her armored vest in her offices the night before, and well, she rather needed it today. She slowly made her way up the stairs, her knee groaning the whole way up the 2 flights. A few months back, she had injured it in a nasty accident and it still wasn’t quite back to par. She really wished the doctors would figure out what was wrong so that they could fix it. Pain just was not her thing. As Cat retrieved her vest, she noted that quite a few other people had left theirs behind as well. “Good, I don’t feel like such a goof now”, she thought as she headed back downstairs to get ready for formation.
Cat was the Combat Lifesaver (CLS) at today’s range and so she knew she had to leave earlier then the rest of the personnel headed out there. Linking up with her platoon sergeant, Cat loaded her gear into the back of the Humvee she was riding in, and did a last minute check. Yep, they were missing something. They needed a stretcher out there, just in case anything stupid happened and they needed to get someone out quickly. She sincerely hoped not, while yes she was qualified to attend to any casualties that may occur, she really didn’t want to have to. Cat made her way upstairs yet again (she really hated these stairs) and found what she needed and went back down. Finally, all was ready and the crew took off for the range.
The OIC and she left the others at the range as they went to the range control to let them know that all was ready and the necessary steps had been taken. Shortly thereafter the soldiers who were firing weapons that day began to arrive. The days work had just begun.
Cat set up her aid and litter vehicle, and it was here she sat for the rest of the day, trying to stay cool in the shaded back. As Cat relaxed, she quickly shut out the sounds of the rounds being shot. She had her water, snacks and most importantly her books, so she was set.
Periodically she shared her space with her favourite Lieutenant, an affable, kind-hearted, and humourous man, with whom she shared a special rapport. He had been there the day of her accident, and had been a tremendous comfort in what was a rather uncomfortable situation. They laughed and joked about starting college classes for the first time (Cat was about to), things that were happening up on the firing line, and other just plain silliness. Cat had brought her schoolbooks with her as well, classes started in two weeks, and she wanted to be fully prepared. (Cat was something of an overachiever, always expecting the best from herself and nothing less. For her, getting any grade below A- would be considered a failure) She was well known to be an avid bookworm, rarely seen without a book stuck to her pert nose.
During one of these exchanges, the LT turned and asked “So when are you going to stop reading books and start writing them?” “My life isn’t all that interesting” Cat responded, to which the LT scoffed. “You have so much to tell” This of course started a lively bantering that only ended when the LT was called away. She thought about it later, and decided this would be something that she gave thought to. While she loved to sit down and write, and she did keep something of a journal (although she hadn’t updated it in a while) Cat didn’t think her writing all that good. “We shall have to see” she thought as she carried on with her day.
As everyone began to wrap up, Cat put her things together and hopped out of the truck to do what she could to help. It had been a long, hot, and very dusty day, and all Cat could think about was a long relaxing shower that she planned to stay in until her fingers looked like prunes.
Ah, thank goodness it was time to load up into the vehicles and return to the company. She settled down into the middle amongst her compadres, and leaned back for the ride back. They laughed and joked about what had gone wrong, the silly things people said, the black widow in the port-a-pottie (Cat had discovered this while poking at a spider web in there with a stick), and the general feeling of relief that the day was close to finished.
Cat felt well satisfied with how her day had gone. She had pitched in where she could and did all that she was able to ensure that the range safely. So often she felt unneeded, and she didn’t much like that feeling. Any day that she was able to do something productive was good in her eyes.
Shortly before arriving back, Cat’s 1SG received a phone call, during which he turned to her to ask if she had anything going on the next day. Cat sensed that she was needed for something, and so she said that she was free. (The only thing she had was easily done another day) He then informed her that another of the company’s needed her to act as CLS for their range and so she would need to be at work the next morning at 0500. Cat laughingly groaned, and joked that she should have said that she was terribly busy and couldn’t spare a moment. She knew full well though that it didn’t matter the time or place, if she was needed, she would be there.
The trip ended well, and the company downloaded the equipment they had used that day, and headed up to the offices for an after action review, something they did after every training event. It established what had gone right, and what could be fixed for the next time. As everyone had their own different views on how things had gone, it was a lengthy session, but soon it was over. It was now time to go home and prepare for the next morning.
Cat loaded her gear into her car, and prepared to drive home. It was now 1830, and it seemed as though this morning was so far away.
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