Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Donut of Misery

Soldiers speculate on their redeployment date. The day we get back to our families, flushing toilettes and beer is a happy one, so we want to know when it is! But, the date fluctuates (shifts to the left or right), much to our consternation. When will the new unit arrive? How long must we wait for a flight to Kuwait, then to the States? Will there be an…extension?

Extensions are bad. Very bad. Back in 2004, we’d handed over our mission to the new unit, sent an advanced team to Kuwait, had the vehicles packed and lined up ready to go. Then the phone rang. The redeployment stopped, and we went south to fight Muqtada al Sadr and his merry band of jerk offs throughout central Iraq. After the 365th day came and went, we lost hope of ever going home. We just drove from city to city, stomping Jaysh Al Mahdi into paste and waiting for the next phone call. We stomped them a little too hard, as JAM turned to Iran for training and equipment, but that’s a different matter.

After the 15th month of a 12 month tour, the phone rang and told us to head to Kuwait. Sheeah, right. We’ll get to Kuwait and promptly turn around for Mosul. But, we went to Kuwait, turned over our equipment and remained skeptical about ever going home. Then we got on the aircraft, still no guarantee! Folks made it to the US of A before the extension, and were called back to Iraq. Landed in Germany, marveled at the green grass but still didn’t think we were home free. Once the plane took off and we were sure it was heading West, we relaxed a bit more.

We landed in Maine. If they told us to get back on the plane and head for Iraq, we could make a break for the door. Canada was close by. Then we got home, and after a week or two we were sure we wouldn’t be called back to Iraq, and we finally relaxed.

Where was I…tracking the day we head home, yes. Now Soldiers have their very own “Donut of Misery.” A simple excel spreadsheet that computes the number of days, hours, minutes past and left in the tour. A pie graph of sorts monitors progress through the deployment as a percentage, and resembles a steadily shrinking donut.

This gave way to Happy Percentage Day! Every 3.65 days (assuming a 12 month tour) another percentage point ticks by, one percentage point closer to going home. So I wish people Happy Percentage Day to my fellow office drones once or twice a week. Don’t tell Hallmark, I might patent the idea.

Math is never that exciting, so Soldiers embellish their Donuts of Misery with photos of scantily clad, yet tasteful, photos of their favorite model/actress/women-of-thankfully-low-morals. There is some debate over who has the best Donut flair, but it is a personal choice.

My Donut transitioned from ‘depressing’ to ‘uplifting’ around the 33% mark. Soon it will be zero.


Bag Blog said...

Getting sent somewhere else rather than home would certainly mess with your psyche. Happy Percentage Day to you, too.

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 08/05/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Anonymous said...

Happy percentage day to you! I found this really neat Donut of Misery online the other day, I don't have Excel so it was perfect. The way it does the countdown is really neat.