Introduction: The Awesome Fail Power of Living & Working Overseas
I have been amazingly fortunate to have lived & worked for most of the post 9/11 period in various fascinating places with terrific people.
I found a fiancee, fathered a child and managed to have a lot of fun as a Environmental Health & Safety consultant. Along the way, I have also managed to document a number of spectacular failures. Because you know who writes the reports when things go wrong? Yep, "the safety guy."
In the first pic I am standing next to my future fiancee in the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad Iraq. Not long after this pic was taken a truck bomb wiped out the lobby. Luckily April & I had seen the situation going to heck and had made a graceful retreat...
In the second pic, 10 years later, April & I are trying to get a nice pic for the grandparents. Sigh.
In the third, my son shows why storing the candy & other treats atop the fridge is useless.
In the final personally taken pic you can see me, on my last FOB visit, in the Afghanistan.
None of these are really failures, per se, but the coming pages are absolutely FILLED with them. Unfortunately for Instructables, I used a FILM camera for about 90% of my photographic needs until about 2013. So many shots are just prints, in boxes, in my storage unit without digital backup.
The last two, flight-line, pics were courtesy of Miss Tiffany, the awesome control tower lady of Bagram, in 2005... If it flies, it's expensive. Write that down.
Step 1: A Few Ouchies for Me
There I was, cruising along in Charleston SC on my moped at 25 mph during one of my rare days in America, in 2014. It was a beautiful day, until a Catholic Priest driving a Camry ran me over while making a left turn in front of Dukes Barbecue. I don't remember the actual accident too well, but the fact that 1) EMS insisted (fairly forcefully) I go to the trauma center, 2) they kept me in the hospital for a week, 3) I had TIRE TRACKS across my chest, and 4) they put that spectacular plate in to hold my left arm together makes me think it must have been worse than I thought at the time. I'm guessing the massive doses of Oxycontin dulled many of the memories. LESSON: YIELD to everyone when you are on a moped. By the way, I got HIRED in a phone interview to go back overseas on a DoD project while STILL admitted to the recovery unit. For some reason, the HR people never thought to ask me if I was currently in the hospital. I got them to give me a WHOLE month to mobilize (and secretly heal enough to walk around trying to look healthy). Luckily I kept the all my prescription paperwork so I could prove that the amazingly high levels of opiate metabolites in my urine were from LEGAL drugs...
in the third pic you can see my poor toes after 2 weeks daily scuba diving 8 to 10 hours a day (maxxing out my charts, of course) in 2004. When your toes blister ON THE TOP, it is time to stop. Even in beautiful Coral Bay, Australia.
Step 2: Exotic Mystery Foods
First, I want to say I have no idea why I am always craving snacks after eating at the Pot Dog stand in Manila.
White Castle is probably not going to be a prestige whiskey brand...
The drink box thing is NOT full of what I supposed was in it. Miss Treva assured me that COK means juice. So it is perfectly safe for us insecure hetero men to drink. But I still think those oranges are suggestively arranged. Seen at FOB Nathan Smith.
If you ever visit the Philippines, and stay with my fiancee's family in Alaminos, NEVER EAT THE PURPLE FISH stuff. NEVER. You should thank me for the warning.
I am unsure why the women of Manchester, England that have loose morals get a special desert at the Kandahar "Luxembourg" DFAC. It seems cruel to single them out at the DFAC. Why not at the Tim Hortons, so the Canadians can join in?
Finally, I am unsure what starving wretch decided that spicy chicken feet should be on the menu in Baguio. I double dog dare you to try it and tell me how it was.
Step 3: You Almost Got It Right When You Named That...
First, I don't think there is much of a plaintiffs bar in the Philippines. Cookies for kids named "Chokies" would have my varied shyster relatives chasing the ambulance harder than usual.
Second, Japanese BALLS? How rude. For that matter, "EVERYTHING on a stick?" sounds like a bit of a reach. April restrained me before i could ask for some gazpacho soup, on a stick.
I may not be a font of wisdom on women (note I am 53, a new father, and never married) but even I can tell that Kenmore brand perfume is going to enrage the average woman. Especially if you also give her appliances that birthday. My advice? Just say no.
Made of what? And I never thought that IODINE was for "internal use."
And a Freeballer Princess Backpack?
Step 4: Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign...
I LOVE to take pics of engrish or otherwise amusing signs. Because I am really that shallow.
I don't know who invented the term "stainy" but it so evocative I hope it gets picked up by the OED. Last seen at Kandahar airfield at the laundry dropp serving AECOM
The paint drip on the Afghan mens room sign just makes it all the better. You might have to enlarge the pic to get the full effect. Or go to Camp Mike Spann.
April and a few of her multitude of kinfolk, point to the infamous "screwmaster" sign in Chinatown, Manila. hahaha. I crack me up.
Skynet? Does Sarah Conner know about this?
In my experience the set of people that use "high intensity gyms" does NOT intersect with the set of "computer people." I think the Venn Diagram is pretty conclusive. Dunno how this place makes a dime in Manila.
One of my very favorite Military "guidons" (no that isn't misspelled, google it) I would have been offended, except it was also signed by "Becky." Why do I think there is a SHARP NCO who just had a minor stroke.
And finally,a very polite sign asking you to deposit your guns before going into the bank in Alaminos. Sounds reasonable. But haven't they ever heard of the second amendment?
Step 5: Don't Trust Anyone...
Oh yeah, we cleared all the ammunition from the MRAP before we gave it to you to fix. Hidden under the right side ammo clips are a pair of frags. There is a reason the green berets, and the kids on the short bus, are both so very "special..."
And also NEVER trust someone named Bismallah to drive the MRAP up a ramp. He WILL disregard the hand signals and rack the frame. The good news was that some of these darn MRAPs were going to get "demilled" anyway. This accident just gave us a volunteer.
If there is ANY room for confusion in your instructions, one of your guys will find a way to mess it up. How hard is "helmets are required?"
Shady looking interpreter wasn't that bad a guy Note that I am standing OUTSIDE the secured wire at Kandahar Airfield. Where the Taliban got their start. In 2003 IIRC. We took (badly aimed) sniper fire most nights we had a late evening concrete placement operation.
Step 6: I Am So Disappointed
First that someone actually thought it would be a good idea to make "national" floats to put into the incredibly foul retention at Kandahar airfield. And that I ended up in Romania after all. Perhaps someone was onto something. See the Kangaroo one in the back? Want to visit Australia now? hmm. The second shot is of some more floats just to prove this wasn't an "one off."
The next one was when I took my pal to see the clothing optional sundeck at FOB Maimana (the Norwegian PRT). Unfortunately for Mr Briscoe, it was unseasonably cold so all the beautiful Norwegian women were taking a pass that day. Sorry pal.
Finally, a pack of cigarettes with a label (squint at it) that says "Smoking may reduce the blood flow and cause impotence." Luckily I never smoked. But what does that mean for those that want a cigarette "after." It seems so very cruel. Seen at the Camp Nidaros smoke & break area of the Norwegian Supply LT.
Step 7: MHE Mayhem
MHE stands for Material Handling Equipment. I think it should also stand for Mostly Harmful Escapades.
First you see the "gator" that they rammed a forklift tine through the grass door. This belonged to me, and was loaned out while I was on a trip to FOB Hairatan Gate.
This was followed just 2 weeks later by the "other brand, gator equivalent" getting picked up by a different forklift so that the stuff in the back shifted and crashed through the back window. Both of these happened at DehDadi II in 2012.
Then the crane they set up for the VERY FIRST TIME, rotated the house and smacked the side into a nearby Hemmt wrecker tow bar at FOB Stone in 2011 (?).
The local nationals that managed to tip their crane onto our huge Sprung tent, Bagram 2006.
Ewww. Just ick.
Finally, these are the morons at Bagram that decided that since the crane had dropped off a load on the roof, they could ride the spreaders down. That is Adrian and I hiking over there to yank the operator out of his seat.
Step 8: Things You Have to Keep Inside
First DON'T laugh when your beloved gets to sit on a pony for the very first time in her life. Even if the pony is dyed pink. EVERY girl/ woman wants to ride ponies at some time in her life. Let her have her moment. Seriously. Look at April and try to tell me she hasn't been thinking about this since childhood.
And if you disembark from a helicopter and the only people you see are Afghans with guns, keep calm, Many Afghans do NOT want to kill random Americans. I have to say, I actually liked many of the Afghans I met. So just smile, wave and move towards the gate with the ISAF/ random western country flags inside. Nothing here to see, no one you want to hurt, you can keep one cruising around in your Hummvee... Seen at the 209th Kandak base.
Finally, my son LOVES to imitate his big brother, my stepson TJ. So he pushes TJs bike down the street and rings the bell at people he meets. Just watch this video of him (right click & open in a new tab) FAILING in SPECTACULAR fashion... I thought I'd die laughing on the inside. He then got his revenge by "de-pantsing" me when I wouldn't hand over the camera...