I have left my family in Germany and successfully arrived in tepid San Antonio, TX for 28 days of training to become an officer in the U.S. Army Medical Corps (pronounced ‘core’ not ‘corpse,’ though both work pretty well).
On my flight over here, I called some in-charge guy from Oh-Hare airport in Chicago to ask him where to go when I arrived last night because I was a day early.
***note to friends and family who know anything about me…I showed up EARLY for something I regard as totally stupid. Note that. Somewhere. Just get it down for posterity somehwere. Not just on-time. Early. Me.***
A guy actually picked up his phone when I called and told me to go to building #596, which is an Army hotel on Ft. Sam Houston.
“Nice,” I think. “I’ll be staying there for a month.” I take a cab from the airport to the hotel. The cab driver drives away. I walk up to the counter, am asked for a copy of my orders, then am told that my room is at the Holiday Inn next to the airport.
“I was just at the airport.”
“I just paid a cab guy to get me out here.”
“Thank you, so much, ma’am, for your help. Can I have my orders back? And, could you call me a cab…maybe even THAT GUY driving away over there who just dropped me off?”
She calls a cab, but not that guy. It will be a half-hour, she says, until a cab can get here.
Then, feeling Army-saavy, I ask her to COPY the copy of my orders she asked me for, and make me a few extra, AND SHE DOES!
We’ve been told to come here, inexplicably, with 10 copies of the orders telling us to come here. The need for a billion copies of paper orders is one of the many stipulations that totally befuddles me. I am actively in the process of subjugating all sense of confusion, befuddlement, and mystification, with mixed results.
But with respect to my orders, I’m making it my personal goal to leave this course with MORE copies of my orders than I arrived with. If I get back home with more than 10 copies of my orders…I’m taking my wife to dinner or something.
Anyway, it’s a nice hotel, and I have to keep reminding myself that I am NOT here for the usual blah-blah conference. For example, our day starts tomorrow at oh-430…well before the “free” breakfast I’m entitled to. And some of the classes we’re supposed to take start at 6pm or later. So, it ain’t a cardiology meeting in Oahu.
I’m in SanAntonio, in August, in a heat-wave that is about to break historic records. So yes, it is butt-hot outside. And I’m the kind of person who thinks PERFECT weather is overcast, rainy and 65 degrees F. Seriously.
But it turns out that the heat actually doesn’t bother me, so far. Mostly just feel like I’m back in Beer Sheva, Israel where I went to medical school. I haven’t been running around in it yet, but so far it hasn’t really phased me. It’s hot. Like med school. Who cares.
I met a guy at breakfast this morning who is also in the class. Cool. Older. Knows stuff, like what he “makes” per day and that it’s good to bring a roll of toilet paper when we go “to the field.”
As he sits there describing Army stuff, I wonder what my problem is with details and why I’m so averse to them. He’s talking about tax-deductions for military pay or something and I’m thinking…”Kyle Orton, he’s really the guy who needs to play for Denver this year”…and…”At some point, this guy is gonna tell me how to get out of deployment AND monthly drilling and when he does, boy, I’ll be RIGHT HERE ready to pay attention…but he just said ‘requisition’ so no need to tune in yet.”
His name’s “Ray” and I’m extremely proud of myself that I remembered it. I came up with “First-day Ray” and now it’s in my head forever.
Ray assures me that since we’re off-post, I won’t be given a roommate. That was an “on-post” stipulation because it was a barracks environment. The hotel lady yesterday told me otherwise, saying that I would be getting a roommate and I had not choice in the matter and would not be allowed to pay extra for my own room.
So, the jury’s out on “Ray.” If my single room survives today…he wins. Stud. Fount of knowledge. I’ll actually like him at that point. And he won’t be placed in my category of people who talk like they know stuff but who I ignore for your own safety.
Having my own room is pretty cool. I can sit here, for example, completely naked and type my little blog. I’m NOT, actually. It’s just that I COULD if I wanted to…which is the whole point.
It’s the Manhattan Effect…the desire of millions of people to live in Manhattan so they can be near museums, shows, galleries and restaruants and theaters even though they won’t patronize even 5% of what’s available to them for the entirety of time they actually there. It’s just that the CAN go if they want to.
‘s called freedom, and I’m rather partial to it.
So, my own room is nice in that way. Doesn’t sound like I’ll be in it much, though. Class starts at 430 in the morning, and the last class starts at 7pm. So it doesn’t really matter who’s in here.
And I suppose I won’t type naked anyway. I’m afraid that as the hard drive warms up, a film of sweat will form between the laptop and the actual “lap”, as it were, and the machine will short itself out in an explosion of wicked-blue electricity bolts right into an area that really should have been covered out of respect for my readers, for God’s sake, if not for my own sense of Fallen-Man shame.
I do have a sense of pleasant anticipation as the day gets started. I’m like any average boy who grew up crawling around fields and forests “fighting” Nazi’s and aliens and dragons. Already I was “ordered” to buy a pocket knife, which definitively makes this better than your average medical seminar.
So as I enter day 1, I can say that if over the next 28 days there’s firing of weapons – of any kind – any choppers, night-vision goggles, topo maps, compasses, smoke, explosions, crawling on elbows and knees, face paint, knives, matches, tents, or at least 11 copies of my orders…this little month away from my family might just be worth it.