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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Letter to a Soldier: the Two Trainees


This letter was written during a very hard time in my life, and I’m pleased that I have some log of it. The past is a notation of things we have done, mistakes we have made, and other things we should remember.

As I have said, this is another of the letters to a soldier on deployment in Iraq. I gave him a rundown of my life in order to have something to say.

You can tell me if I was a good friend.
2nd June 2007
Dear (Soldier),

I know it has not been long since my last letter, but to be honest your mother sent me a video, via email, and it has been bothering me from the day she sent it over. It spoke for the soldiers in Iraq saying things like “don’t you remember me?” and “Did I do something to make you angry?”

Does your mother feel that we have forgotten you? She sent that video to lots of people so I don’t think so, but it bothered me as much as it bothered (your wife). I never knew how difficult this business would be for every one. It’s funny how the ruined mind always thinks the world should be so pristine and that the small problems rate the same attentions as the large. We tend to snap and jeer at one another over small things, and forget the larger problems.

Well, enough on philosophies. Work is just as bad as it was in my last letter. The night after I posted it we had to trainees (Trainee 1), on his second day, and (Trainee 2), on his first. It was this night that the supervisor, give us hour lunches again. He didn’t tell me this until after my lunch, so he let me take half an hour later on. 

I could tell that (Trainee 2) was having problems from the first minute he was on post. They decided to have him work inbound log and the first question he had was: “Do the truck drivers fill this out?” Right, we stand here and hold the paper work and the driver does all the work for us. That’s what security work is like you just stand around making sure that ever one does the right thing. Writing down the logs was too much work for him. It was a bad sign.

During the slow times I got to talk to him. I asked him my usual questions. Is this your first post? “I can’t count how many posts I’ve been on.” Have you worked the company long? “Two years.” How did you end up with this shift? “School, I’m a full time student.” This wasn’t the place for him, but he was stuck here. Well, what ever, this isn’t the place for me either, and I’m just as stuck. I’m told he objected to getting on the rolling stairways we use to seal the trailer tops, but (Trainee 1) didn’t like doing it any more than (Trainee 2) did from what I could see.

(Trainee 2) took his lunch around 0311. He didn’t ask for permission because (the site supervisor) was not around to ask. 0400 came around and he didn’t show but I said he had been late so just let him have another ten or so. At 0420 (the site supervisor) told me to take my second half hour and I found (Trainee 2) sleeping in his car. I told (the site supervisor) who said “wake him up and send him home.” I woke him and told him all about what happened. He was upset, but not too upset, more upset then I would have been.    

That’s the story of the one-day guard. I told him to call the boss in the morning, and have him come up with what to do about this situation. We lost two guards that day, (Trainee 2) and one of the guards that walked out early the two days that client management decided to pay me a visit. As it stands, we are now two guards short, the 2100 to 0500 spot and the 2200 to 0600 spot. We lose 1.33 guards every week.

All this must be boring the flaming snot balls out of you. Don’t feel alone; the work is uninteresting to me as well because of the lack of interesting people. I don’t think this experience is as good for my writing as my last job. Then I’m caught between working on plays and working on books. When I work on plays it makes me want to work on books, but right now I need to work on plays.

(Pickle) came up with another line that just has to be in a play. “If you got drafted I’d have to pay all the bills myself.”  I’m trying to come up with another comedy that works with my “family”. It isn’t as easy as it sounds or reads, rather, but there are two many good lines to give up. 

I know you can’t talk about your work, and that’s no big deal. I don’t suppose you interact with the locals much either, but the imagination is always more interesting then the truth when it comes to the cloak and dagger stuff anyway. I worked with a man that served as an MP in Iraq and he told me that when he was shot at he had to write less then when he found damaged freight in the cross dock.

It’s been a crazy few days over here in the states. I hope things are going well for you in the sand box. If I happen by a nice specimen bottle I’ll send it down your way, and you can fill it with sand. It would be kind of cool to have a piece of Iraq.

Peace and long life


Richard Leland Neal