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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Language Barriers and Chow



My best friend (the barracks vending machine) broke down this week. I don’t know how I’ll cope with not having easy access to 65% of my daily saturated fat in one package. While here at Fort FuckedUpPlaceToLive  my diet is chaotic and the effects are confusing.  I feel that while gaining the health benefits of exhausting exercise, the environment (and my stress-eating habit) enables me to pillage mountains of calories. I’ve been able to avoid the main culprits, the Chinese takeout and delivered pizza that Marines consume at a baffling frequency, mostly just because I’m cheap. We all rate free food three times a day at the chow hall. It is legitimately free, despite what our instructors would have us. The quote usually resembles “Blah blah blah I don’t understand why you idiots order so much food when you’re paying for the chow hall, whatever it’s your money.” While billeted here, our monthly pay increases by about $350, which is then immediately taken away because we are “paying” for the chow hall. There’s no way we’d see this money, even if we never ate there. I tried explaining this process to Sgt. TalksAtUsForever but didn’t gain much ground in the battle for mutual understanding of the system we live in. 

                Since I eat there all the time, my diet is at the mercy of the chow hall. Because I’m cheap.  I can make excuses: I’m still saving for college, eating pizza every night will rot my face along with my soul the next morning during PT, taking a cab to the grocery store costs a whole $4, etc., but being cheap is what it all boils down to. When it comes to the chow hall, I usually get what I pay for. There are days when the stars align and both mashed potatoes and veal (an ever-elusive and notoriously cruel meat) are available, but then there are days when for whatever reason there are no ketchup packets. I probably use ketchup on 85% of the meals I eat there, and the remaining 15% are days when there’s no ketchup. It’s bullshit and it makes me much angrier than the situation deserves. Having German heritage, my favorite type of meal is something you can mash together into an ambiguous grey mass and then eat out of a bucket. The chow hall abides, assuming there’s ketchup to alpha over the other, lesser flavors in said bucket. 

                The weird part is how continuously hungry I am, even though every meal feels like filling my digestive system with bricks. As I sit here, temporarily emancipated from my room (seeing that I don’t want to watch/listen to Evil Dead for the 3rd fucking time) I can’t help but bitterly mourn the broken vending machine. I could be shoving a dollar worth of knock-off Oreos into my face in a brief moment of unadulterated gluttony, only to then sigh heavily and then sit here, feeling greasy. At the chow hall this sort of rapid binge eating is encouraged by the atmosphere. The employees don’t want to be there, the service members don’t want to stay there long, and the chained baby cows never had a choice, so stuffing myself and then scuffling out the door is totally acceptable behavior. There are brief moments of entertainment. Today our Platoon leader misplaced his cover (hat) in the chow hall and assumed someone had stolen it, which may be justified considering everyone hates him. I only kind of hate him, and feel that he only deserves about 30% of the hate he receives. He asked the huge, scary-looking Chinese immigrant PFC if he knew where his cover was, and received the beautiful answer: “Go find your own cover, Ass Bitch.” I don’t know why this was so hilarious. Maybe it was the context, the fact that everyone hates the Platoon leader, or the English as a second language over-pronunciation of the slightly incorrect insult. But I still can’t think about it without laughing. 

In other news, I think I may be the worst welder in history. For some reason they’re still paying me to churn out dismal pieces, naively expecting me to perform better with practice. They say practice makes perfect, but the jury’s out on if practice can fix genuine incompetence.

2 comments:

  1. Oh Alex....I know you would rather be high in the mountains, swimming in an ice cold glacier lake and then doing 500 push ups to warm your numb body before swimming back to shore! AJT

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  2. Wait, don't you outrank all of these people? Why are you not platoon leader?

    ReplyDelete