Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Part 128


"You gonna miss your friends?" Lucy asked me.

I shrugged trying to show her that I wasn't interested in her personal questions but she had that expectant look like she could wait me out until I answered.  Finally I gave her another shrug and said, "It was nice to find out they are alive and stuff.  I was just glad to find out that they didn't just leave me in the city on purpose."

"But?"

I looked at her.  Sometimes Lucy's issues really show up and sometimes she is like better than most normal people because she sees into things and people, not just looks at them.  I sighed because I could see she wasn't going to drop it even though I had a lot of packing to do so we could get out first thing in the morning.  I just gave in to the inevitable and answered, "But ... I'm not the same kid I was when I was with them.  I needed them when I was in the city ... I was only fourteen and basically stupid-helpless.  Then I didn't have them and had to learn to make it completely on my own.  I learned a lot in the time I was with them, I had to, but too much time has passed.  I can't go back and be that needy kid again.  Sherry ... er ... Sher I mean ... we talked it out.  She understands and to be honest she is relieved.  She and Moe make a good living for them but another mouth is another mouth and she's already preggers again.  They're happy and junk about it but I think that even though they'd take me in they're relieved they don't have to."

"And you're relieved you don't have to go back to being bossed around."

I looked at her and realized she was going somewhere with our conversation.  I shook my head.  "You know, it's just better if you go ahead and spit it out.  It's not like I'm going to totally freak or something.  Just say what you need to say."

She continued going through her gear but did as I asked, "OK.  Here's the deal.  You can get away with your mouth and stuff here at base but when we are out in the field Shelly is in command.  You can't mouth off to her and you gotta just do what she says even if you don't understand or don't agree.  You may not be active duty personnel but we are and we have to operate a certain way."

"OK."

She stopped and looked at me.  "That was too easy."

I snorted and kept doing what I was doing.  "What?  You expected me to throw a hissy fit like a baby?"  She just kept looking at me so, with a sign, I explained.  "Look, I thought about all of this stuff before I signed up.  MSgt. Shadwell made sure I understood how patrols work.  I'll be alone a lot of the time but when you guys are around I am answerable to you all, especially Sgt. Shelly whose job it is to make sure everything runs the right way so that we can all survive and not get hurt any more than necessary.  If you all were a bunch of jerks and really stupid maybe I would squeak more but you're not.  You go out of your way with your babysitting act - which I have got to tell you is totally annoying - but you aren't doing it to be mean but because you don't know how well I can take care of myself.  This first trip out will be my chance to prove you don't need to hold my hand all the time but don't worry, I'm not totally stupid so I'm not going to put us in danger by acting all tough and carp like that.  My job is to cook and protect our supplies.  I can do that ... whatever else you do is your job and I'm keeping my nose out of it as much as I can."

Sgt. Shelly casually stepped into my line of sight ... I'd known she was there which is why I said things the way I did.  She gave me a long, considering look ... the kind Dad used to use when he was interrogating Toddie when he wasn't sure if he would tow the line or not.  "You sure you're ready for this Pip?  Fieldwork is just that ... work.  And it can be boring one second and dangerous the next.  We have to be able to depend on one another and that includes that you.  A soldier travels on their stomach.  If we don't eat, or we don't eat well enough, we aren't going to be able to give one hundred percent and in a dangerous situation that could cause injury or even death ... not just to us but anyone that we are responsible for protecting.  You may be a noncombatant but your position is still essential to the patrol.  If you cannot shoulder the responsibility I need to know now."

I stood up and looked her square in the eye.  "I'm a cook and a good one.  I'm resourceful.  I've been listening to Moe and some of the other sutlers and I think I have a handle on what kind of things I'm going to run into ... shortages, that sort of thing.  I won't know for sure how things are going to work out until I've had some of what MSgt. Shadwell called field experience in a group setting.  I know I can take care of myself, now I just have to learn how to take care of you guys."

Sgt. Shelly gave me the squinty eye trying to figure out whether I was making a joke or not.  She decided I was and I decided it wouldn't be what you call prudent to inform her it wasn't.  I'm not too worried about it ... at least the cooking part.  I just don't know if I can put up with them.  It has been a long time since I've had to share space with anyone, especially four other females that seemed to refuse to see me as anything other than just another person they need to take care of.

The four women finally gave me some space by going off to some kind of meeting after which they'd get their own personal supplies refilled.  I needed the space because I was getting uber frustrated.  I do not like the way they package the food supplies.

The freeze dried fruits and veggies are in number ten cans.  It doesn't matter how much they give you of each, they are all in the same size cans.  For instance, in the food I get for this time out I've got a supply of both blueberries and corn.  I opened the blueberries because they were so lightweight and the can wasn't even half full.  Out of curiosity I opened the corn and found out that can wasn't full either.

What I have to store things in is also a trip and not what I would call your average military vehicle.  In fact it isn't a vehicle at all but a hot dog cart.  I'm not kidding.  The stainless steel area looks just like the hot dog and ice cream carts that would show up at the park in good weather.  It is on two wheels but then things get even funnier looking.  There is like part of a bike attached so that as you use the pedals you are pushing the stainless steel part.  Then attached to the back of the bike is another trailer that hauls the none-food items.

I've made a few practice runs and to say that it is awkward doesn't even begin to cover it.  Going uphill is gonna kill me.  Trying to keep the whole thing from running away as I go downhill might kill me twice over.  Going off road ... well, you get the picture, but it is what all of the cooks use.  No wonder there are no fat cooks.  I'm going to need to eat a lot just to be able to ride this stupid looking thing and keep it going.

So between the poor food storage set up and the poor transportation contraption DeeDee is a cranky girl.  I'll live - it is better than being chomped by a puss brain - but I have got to come up with a better way to do things.  This is just nuts.

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