THE FLORIST |
February 05, 2007
Maj R asked me at the last minute to accompany him to a large Afghan army base on the other side of town. We have to travel in pairs, and his NCO was sick. I accepted, as it was a chance to see more of beautiful Afghanistan. Even better, I got to drive an Afghan truck for the first time. It's just a souped up Ford Ranger, but the Afghan guards get a kick out of seeing us in their vehicles. Today one of them asked why we were in it, and Maj R told them we'd stolen it. I said we were joining the Afghan Army. Some humor crosses the language barrier just fine.
Since it defends the capital, the 201st Corps is probably the best equipped of the five Afghan Corps. This is a real combat unit, commanded by a two-star General. Or, more accurately, a two-blob General, as I could not make out what those things on his shoulders were supposed to be. Not that what I wear is any better. I have a little logistics badge with an eagle clutching lightning bolts and a bomb, I think. The Afghans no doubt think I have a blob on my chest too.
Well, we were going in to see the General himself, and I was sure he would be an imposing, Patton-like figure. We sat in his waiting room for a while, enjoying one of the three Afghan air conditioners in the entire city. Finally all the brass arrived, and the room was filled with a host of Generals and Colonels. We headed into the inner sanctum, the office of the Commander of the finest combat unit in Afghanistan. Surely there would be swords hanging on the walls, battle plans, war trophies, flags, all sorts of cool stuff.
But I somehow ended up in a bridal shop. There were towering flower arrangements everywhere. The couches and chairs all had wooden arms and legs carved into flowers, and painted too. Clearly there had been a rip in the space-time continuum, or my anti-malaria drugs had finally fried my brains. There was no way this was the office of the top military commander in the country. I closed my eyes, clicked my heels three times, and wished I was back in Kansas, or at least in reality. But weird as it was, and weird seems pretty normal around here, I was indeed in his office. Great. Old Blood-and-Guts really wants to be a florist.