A short essay on life, sanitary facilities and the deployed environment.
With rare exception, the chances are very good that you are sitting somewhere rather comfortable while reading this post. You have access to a toilet that flushes, toilet paper is there if you remember and the biggest concerns are working out a cleaning schedule with those others with whom you share home or workspace. Skip the rest of this post if a discussion of sanitary facilities is not to your liking.
Being deployed is a different world. In fact, it is almost like having a toddler: that time of life where you are almost done with potty training but when ever you are out of the house, you have to have the location and accessibility of bathroom facilities firmly fixed in your mind.
Prior to being here and having to cope with strange cleaning schedules, I never worried. I have always been one of those people who could travel just about anywhere and not have an issue. On a cruise ship while everyone around me is suffering from Norwalk Virus, I am just shaking my head. Perhaps it is being Prev Med or female (with hand washing ingrained from an early age) or having a immune competent GI system. I also spend a lot of time counselling everyone around me that a vegetarian diet and a lot of non-caffeine containing fluids could improve their outlook.
So, here we are on Bagram at a nice normal time in the morning. Wandering out of the BHut – there is a pickup truck blocking the doors of the two nearest port-a-lettes. Ok, I wanted running water and flush toilets anyway. Hiking down to the San Trailer – the doors are blocked open and there is a cleaning crew inside. Looking at my watch, this time does not coincide with the posted cleaning schedule. Hiking down another block, there is a set of portables near the chapel. Two are occupied and the door is broken on the third.
Huh, life is not supposed to be this challenging. Most days the only self support time concern that I have is getting to the laundry for pick up or drop off during duty hours.
My choices are now – stop at the USO for flush toilets or hike toward the office and try one set or another of portables along the way. If I want fancy, there is always the hospital three blocks down the street. The weather is nice, sun shining and not all that cold. Much different than sub-zero temperatures some nights when the thought of leaving the warmth of my room is a real deterrent. Not being one of the guys, a pee bottle or chamber pot doesn’t really appeal.
But then, if I was one of the guys that extra five minutes of sleep wouldn’t have turned into a 20 minute hunt for a functioning sanitary facility.