Friday, April 22, 2005

Elephants and Crickets

There's an elephant in the room. There's an Elephant standing right in the middle of the family room here and no one is mentioning it. We're all just trying to carry on our normal conversations with each other and pretending not to notice, and assuming that since no one else is saying anything, they must not notice. It's an elephant folks, and it's standing in the middle of the room leaving pachyderm sized poops all over the carpet. Trust me, it's not that the other person hasn't noticed, they're just ignoring it too.

We're all sitting behind out computers in this big virtual family room, communicating as best we can, and so far, we're all failing to state the obvious topic of discussion: "Is it dangerous where you are?" The short answer is "Yes".

We were given orders to deploy to a combat zone. We trained for it through battle drills and live fire convoys for months. We are receiving hostile fire allowances in our paychecks. Ray Charles could see that there is an inherent amount of danger associated with this and to try and carry on normal communications with people without mentioning it and hoping that the other person just doesn't notice is disingenuous at best.

That may sound like a pretty harsh condemnation, but I'll say first that I am just as guilty as everyone else. I try to make things easier on Pam by not telling her about certain dangers, and Pam worries more because I haven't said anything about it being dangerous. She thinks I'm hiding something. She knows me pretty well. She doesn't want to ask. I don't want to say, and the elephant just gets bigger and stinkier.

I feel guilty because Pam and I have worked very hard over the years to construct a relationship that is built on trust and by not admitting to her what danger I may be in here, is a lie of ommision. I can tell myself that I'm just protecting her, but then I'm just lying to myself as well. Since I'm not willing to damage my relationship with the person who I hold dearest in the world and because I really need to be able to talk to her about these things for my own sanity, it's time to start talking about the elephant.

It can be dangerous here. FOB Salerno is only 20 kilometers from the Pakistan border. The range on a 122mm rocket is 23 kilometers. From time to time the cave-dewllers get lucky and one of these things will land in or around the FOB. These rockets have the ballistic integerity of a pinata and their accuracy is comparable, only about half of what get fired at us actually lands anywhere near us. To fire these things at us is a much riskier operation for the cave-dweller than it is for us, but since it's pretty much the only thing he's got, he remains pretty persistent.

I would like to say that I was forthright and magnaimous about this, and finally decided to do the right thing all on my own. I was finally going to come clean with Pam and let her know everything that has happened here. I was going to break it to her gently, and as I began typing out a carefully crafted email, Fox news popped up with the story related in the post below, saying that Salerno had been attacked. Nothing like good timing. I'll edit that post below to relate exactly what happened and you will be able to see how I've been talking around this beast.

Now I'd like to apologize to Pam for not sharing the truth with her immediately as she has come to expect and has a right to expect. I'd like to apologize to the rest of my family for the same reason, but I'd also like to apologize to anyone else who may be reading this who really didn't know there was an elephant in the room. Please don't be angry at whoever didn't tell you about Dumbo, there was no malicous intent and everyone's best interest was at heart. We're all pretty new at this and it's really not something that anyone wants to practice enough to be really good at.

So, there it is, an elephant. It's kind of a puny little pachyderm now that we really look at it, but it's an elephant none the less and he can be dangerous. The training is good though, the troops react well, and there is no complacency. The danger is taken seriously and we react accordingly. So now that we admit that the elephant is here, how do you get rid of it? Well, you really don't, but you don't let it consume your either. You always remain prepared to do what needs to be done, then you put it out of your mind. You find your distractions. Whether it's books or movies, or just trying to chase down a cricket in your tent, you keep yourself busy and pretty soon, even though the elephant is still there, you realize that he's really not that big and he doesn't get in the way much. The more you chase Jimminyhad, the smaller the elephant seems to be, and pretty soon you really don't notice that he's there.

Who knew that elephants were afraid of crickets?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The last thing that any of us want before, during or after the elephant is around is for any of you to be worrying about what to tell us. We can get the news (Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan Press Releases and other sites daily) online if we want to know. If we could help you get rid of the elephant then telling us would make sense, but unfortunately we cannot. We want you all to stay safe and focused on the job at hand, we will be fine. (when there are casualties like the helicopter crash, a little piece like you wrote is all we need to know) Keep up the good work, and thank you