25 APRIL 2010
A FOBbit is a creature—most often non-Infantry—who lurks the FOB or camp or base grounds, feeding off high-speed internet, satellite television, fresh hair cuts, hot showers and clean uniforms. They are awake and ready by Reveille, and yawning with sleep come Taps. All the while, between each tune, conducting themselves care –free of combat, and actively engaged in the lesser advertised duties of soldiering—inspections, classes, removing stall doors to deter graffiti artists and so on. They are a necessary evil in Uncle Sam’s Army. By this I have implied, if not directly stated, two certainties: one, they are evil, and two, the Army needs them. FOBbits do things like attend to our paperwork, finances, supplies and so on (there once was a commercial suggesting there are over two hundred jobs in the United States Army, the Infantryman’s joke is that there’s only one job in the Army, and over two hundred ways to support it). So yes, they are desperately needed. Their evil I speak of I will not indulge too deeply but to say, the removal of our bathroom stall doors—for more dark imagery seek out a copy of Catch-22, it speaks volumes of their irony and wickedness with dry wit—and so on.
Currently, and for the remainder of the month perhaps, I am sad to announce that I have taken on FOBbit status. This isn’t a far cry from what I had been, going off on two, maybe three missions a month, and settling down in my fancy resort for the time between each. My team and I spent hours on hands and knees, crawling through our truck with wrench near by, unscrewing countless bolts that once firmly held in place all the interior of our gun truck. We then loaded our vehicles onto flatbeds and waved good-bye. When they return, they will have a new hardened armor, able to protect against things like dinosaur zombies, I imagine.
I haven’t a clue what I’m to do as a FOBbit; I clean and read and go to the gym, but I had done all of this before. The extra time spent lingering at hurry up and wait leaves me with little option but to drink more espresso and chew on my pipe more than is preferable. Daydreaming proved soothing for a night or two but the thoughts turn bitter when they are not ended in a timely manner, like any story that carries too far beyond its climax. And I’ve begun to plan for a future that is not nearly close enough to the present; I’ve bracketed my after deployment options into A, B, C, D groups and so on. The most desirable being something to the sort of winning the lottery, then scaling down-a-ways to option D or so, which would probably have me return to college with more electives and withdraws and fails on my transcripts than anything else. Oh well, I guess.
This is clearly no way for a band of Infantrymen to live, muttering about in clean uniforms with minds wandering off to more suitable living. This FOB life is for the POGs, and they can keep it too. Back at Fort Hood, I remember having a sit down with my Lieutenant, we were held up on a pile of sandbags, probably talking about something reminiscent of our old heroics from the glory days of the wild west. This is when a group of soldiers, all sharply dressed and cleanly shaven, walked through our path. Our conversation halted and the Lieutenant let out a mighty terrible sneeze. I offered a quick blessing and asked if he was OK. To which he replied, “I’m allergic.” “To what,” I asked. And he answered, “POGs.” I had never seen him more deadly serious. And I had never found him so hilarious.
- The Exodus