Burned Out

Someone pokes me in the back until I wake up and I roll over.

I fucking hate this place.

All I do is lay there, for about ten minutes or so, until I know that I can't spare another minute without being late. Late to wait. Late to be a presence on a truck for a day and come back having accomplished nothing.

Shouldn't have believed the commercials, there, stud.

The wind chills the back of your neck while you stand in the air guard hatch watching shitty cars pulled over to the side of the road as you pass. You're going to go somewhere and wait. There is absolutely no question about it. You'll probably be back sometime during dinner time.

You slap a mag in your rifle and charge a round, and you have no idea why you're even bothering. Just doing it out of habit, to appease that tiny little voice that says, "Well maybe something will happen today..."

Mud clings to your boots and sucks up gravel and it hangs on to you like bastardly little stowaways, smears your seat when you stand on it, and that uniform that you just picked up from the laundry point gets fresh mud on the legs before you even leave the wire. Your nose runs because it's cold. God help you if you keep a calendar.

You don't even bother to curse the politics and the complexities of American Presence in Mess O'Potamia. It doesn't matter and it would drive you insane anyway. Remember, you're Joe and you don't understand shit.

When I'm a good dog, they sometimes throw me a bone...

It's the same fucking routine, all the time, and where the hell is all the distress and the chaos and the ka-boooom and the Oh FUCK and the bratttbratttbratt of small arms fire, shrapnel and debris and little fires, good guys vs. bad guys. Where the fuck is this WAR I was supposed to go fight?

Meetings with local officials? Are you fucking SERIOUS?! THIS is what an entire day is devoted to? And the day after that? So that in the end, we're spending weeks and months for MEETINGS and bullshit sessions?

I am fucking SICK of your chai. I'm sick of your mandatory hospitality. I'm sick of your rugrat little bastard kids chasing my Stryker demanding footballs. Fuck, they'll beg for them when I'm out walking around. I pat my pockets, patronizing them. "Nope, no football here."

Sick of your mangey dogs and your shitty construction, and I am DAMN sick of your police and your soldiers and your local militia. Sick of sitting in a courtyard during a meeting while your cronies and underlings surround me and ask me questions in Arabic.

"Blah blah hubba bubba bling blong," one babbles.

"Shway Arabi," I answer. Little Arabic.

"Mumbo jumbo, dae wonna wonga, kun casa Han Solo."


"U tini?!"

"Oh, yeah I get ya! Haha, right on man! I don't understand a fucking WORD you're saying! And I don't care, isn't that great? I hate you and all of your friends, with a blind passion! I really do, hahaha, oh ho HAAHAHA, isn't that a fucking TRIP?"

"Unga bunga blah blah hullabaloo etc etc etc wonk."

"Gotcha, your boy Rico Suave here, with the gelled hair, is cheating on you with that guy by the door. That's a damn shame man. In my country, one of you is bound by honor to run from that anguish by doing pitiful off-broadway productions."

They leave my friends alone, because my friends don't say shit to them. But no, I start off being a decent guy, and I regret it. Every fucking time. I've never had my ass saved by any of them. I'm missing my brother's 18th birthday and high school graduation because they don't have the balls to police their own country. What the FUCK do I have to say to them?

One of them hands me a cup of steaming hot chai. As I take it, for a brief second, I consider splashing it in his face, scalding the shit out of him. Maybe headbutting him right in the nose for good measure.

I don't see any war here. So what am I doing here?

"...for the security and the continued prosperity and..."

Don't even bother explaining, I'm not listening. I freely admit that I am Joe and I don't give a shit, and I don't see the big picture. But these Big Picture planning types don't see the little picture either. Difference is, they're in charge, and I'm not.

A kid waves and holds his hands up, "Mista! Football!"

I reach into my sleeve pocket and toss out an empty can of dip. Have a hockey puck.

If I get stop lossed and deployed again, I'm going to puke blood. Why deploy me a second time? We need to waste MORE fuckin' time out here? Nothing I have done in MONTHS has meant dick. Other than being a presence here.

"But you're here to help them stabilize and--"

Ah ah ah, hush. Maybe at one point I was bleeding-heart enough to care, but you wanna know something? Society will always find a way. We're supposed to prevent their inevitable civil war? Is that it? Why? Because the democracy we're spoonfeeding them is so much better? Give me a goddamn break.

Either we're here, bored, until that freak occurance happens where we lose someone, and have no one to strike back against, or we're back in the US, watching CNN with a case of beer and sick, sadistic gut-laughs erupting from the depths of our selfish, black little hearts.

The Trade Towers! The WMDs! Saddam! Stabilization! Foothold in the Middle East!

None of us ever cared about any of that. We all signed on to go to WARRRRRR.

To sling lead downrange, cold stares and loud bombs and dead bad guys squishing under our feet. To fuck the world with the big dick of democracy. Wreak total havoc and be hailed as heroes for it. That's what we wanted at first.

Next thing I know it, I've been here for way too long and everything is way too dull and the world is moving on without me, and I'm at the outpost talking to a friend of mine, and he says something that makes a lot of sense.

"This is all bullshit. All of it. I could understand if we were like, on our borders or beaches or harbors or something kicking ass and fighting back an invading force or something, then I would be behind this a hundred percent, but this is fuckin' BULLSHIT man."

So all those romantic notions of kicking down a door and pouring into a house with your buddies and fighting in close quarters, fighting for your fucking life and nothing else, filling that zealot bastard full of lead and letting him bleed out on the floor while you take off your helmet, light a cigarette, and strike a pose, it ain't there.

The boys who did all that serious Oh FUCK fighting, they'd be the first to tear away every romantic notion of it and expose it for the nonsensical clusterfuck it is, but for everyone else, every young Joe who's trained up for two fuckin' years to go fight it, what the hell do you expect from them? Fill their heads with all this shit about intense fighting and testing yourself in combat and all sorts of other boner-inducing cliches, then send them to be a mere PRESENCE in the aftermath of this bumblefuck and watch them scratch their heads.

And watch them get cynical, quick, fast, and in a big hurry.

Hey, don't get me wrong, I still don't want more than I can chew. I don't care if I never fire my rifle again. But if we aren't FIGHTING, then why keep us here? Let the fucking POGs patrol these areas, give us new spots to go kick ass in, or else just send us home.

"It's not that simple."

Bullshit, I say it's that simple. I'll go back to being trigger happy on a fucking X-Box, where there are no consequences, where that shit belongs. Boozing and bullshitting and shamming and romancing and being a good ol' American boy going batshit crazy gorging myself on a well-cooked Turkey, surrounded by extended family, not worrying about a damn thing. That's where I oughta be if I'm not putting my ass on the line for a real fight.

We signed up for a fight. Not to play Day Care for this god-forsaken wasteland. Every day I ask myself, "THIS is what I put my life on hold for?"

I'm going to be sick.


  1. themorethingschange... said...
    "...I could understand if we were like, on our borders or beaches or harbors or something kicking ass and fighting back an invading force or something, then I would be behind this a hundred percent, but this is fuckin' BULLSHIT man."

    I'm with your friend...send him on over HERE...we got action...

    ABC did a package the other day about us: "24Hrs on the Border"...big news: Tucson Sector Border Patrol processes over 1,000 illegals PER DAY coming across the desert...

    what looks like the Mexican military makes "incursions" on a regular basis...

    drones mysteriously fall out of the sky...

    living in the boonies feels dangerous now...that stranger at the door may need water, may have a friend who's been shot, may be a bad guy...

    stand on the hill and watch pickups STUFFED with people...

    people standing in the bed, sitting on the hood, on the cab, hanging off the back, making their way down the dirt road past your house..

    pick up the dirty clothes, empty water bottles, backpacks and dirty diapers in the wash out back and then do it again - and again - and again - forevermore...

    the other day a 5 yr old girl crossing with family was snatched in some sort of face-off then left in the mountains... alone... overnight...

    follow rock carins along the road, arrows scratched into the underside of bridges, more carins, and you end up at I-19...

    USBP agents are being shot, run down with HUMMERS and assaulted in countless other ways...we're talkin' KIA's man...

    So yeah, come on home and defend us...WE need you

    ...and that's MY rant!

    Anonymous said...
    I was getting gas one day when the price first spiked and the the guy next to me filling his suv said "I thought we invaded Iraq to bring the price of gas DOWN!" I turned to him and said "Didn't they tell you? We invaded Iraq so that Bush's buddies could get rich." The open-jawed look he had was excellent. C'mon, even Greenspan says it was about the oil.
    DoubleTapper said...
    Try saying "Mah-feesh Arabee" firmly every time the mumble at you.

    It means "NOT ARABIC!"

    If that Doesn't work say "Inglasi BAS!" It means "Only English!"

    Good Luck!
    Anonymous said...
    "Mumbo jumbo, dae wonna wonga, kun casa Han Solo."

    Dude, I love you man.

    D.Williams said...
    Yup, you're burned out. Try not to hang out with other burned out people, it won't help either of you. Sorry about missing your brother's birthday and graduation.
    heartmindsol said...
    I know you are burnt out and sick of it all. Be careful what you wish for, and come home safe.
    Army Sergeant said...
    You're not alone on the burn-out. Sorry you're still in the shit. At least you manage to keep your sense of humor.

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