The Crud (excerpt from the forthcoming Somewhere in the Middle)
From: “Wayne E. Popelka”
To: [Undisclosed Recipients]
Subject: The Crud
Date: Sat, 26 Jun 2004 00:41:49 -0400
And because there's nothing funnier than a good shower anecdote:
The other night I noticed a lake slowly developing outside of where I live. I was proud of the fact that I had put two and two together to figure out that this meant a burst pipe underground, and that once again the water would be turned off. The little bit of notice I had this time was welcomed, as I had time to shower that night before someone important noticed the leak. And, I had time to adjust to the idea of the comparatively long walk to the showers the next day. At the end of this walk I was greeted by a sign on the refuge shower that read that the water was off in there as well and that I should take my business to building 414. Pissed off, I looked at a map for building 414, and then began my journey. Though the walk to the refuge shower is longer than I like, it is through an unpopulated area and most of us just do it in our towels or boxers. The walk to 414 turned out to be a little busier. So there I was walking along the road, car and trucks cruising by, in my Superman boxers. By the time I got to 414 I was cranky and sweaty, and just wanted to get in the shower. I opened the door to building 414 and was greeted by 30 or so people who stopped what they were doing to see who'd come in the door. It was just like the scene in Animal House where they walk into the wrong bar. Apparently this was the main entrance, whereas the showers were off of the side entrance. My Superman Underoos and I made our way through all the people playing spades and dominoes, and finally hit the showers.
The other day I ran into Jon, a guy I worked with out in DC. Just looking at him I knew something was wrong. Sure enough he had a bad case of something. He looked real weak, so I asked if he needed anything. He was hungry and asked if I could bring him some saltless crackers from the chow hall. (I've never heard of saltless crackers.). I went, ate my fill, and then set about gathering things for Jon. No saltless crackers, so I improvised with Saltines and white bread. I also grabbed some ginger ale, Sprite, and apple juice, and then I made my way to an attendant to get a container. He didn't want to give me one, which is just what I needed. I began my "friend sick in the bed" rant, which felt good, but I think it was lost on him due to his secondary English speaking skills. I got the container and left, fed Jon, and went on my way. I tried checking on him a few times but he wasn't in his bunk, so I figured he was better. Then, last night I got a call that he's in the hospital on the Air Force Base and needs some belongings, and that I have been tasked with bringing them to him. So I get his stuff and am assigned a driver: someone authorized to drive off base after curfew. I guess you have to take all these aggressive/defensive combat driving courses in order to do it. After all the buildup, I thought the ride was going to be really exciting. It wasn't. I got to the hospital and saw Jon and he looked fairly good to me. I had half expected it to be all dramatic and that he would be hanging on for dear life, but he was relaxed and enjoying the rest he was getting.
According to his doctor, Jon has The Crud. That's right, The Crud. The Crud is some unknown disease that Americans catch over here. It is much like our flu except that it lasts for two weeks. I found out then that another guy from my company was there with it too and that there had been several cases of it in the past month. I had heard people joke about The Crud when I got here, but I never really took any of the joking seriously. The Crud is real. I dread getting The Crud, as one of my worst fears is getting sick and being by myself (my other biggest fear is of sharks). But I suppose if I got it, I'd deal with it like most everything else here.
That's it for now. Shame on some of you for not writing back in a long time.