Southern Swill: Dispatches from Forgotten British Sector (2)

Cot Cutter Colonel

 A base in the south, Iraq LTC Baldrick committed an entertaining faux pas in his latest act of compulsive and pointless micro-management when he slashed cots belonging to the PSD team.

 Baldrick allegedly encountered the cots on the PSD team’s front patio during an early morning inspection of the camp, and assumed they were some trashy cots Armor Group had left when they moved out. He had ordered Camp Manager Spike Abbott to get rid of the Armor Group cots before the PSD team’s arrival. Unbeknownst to the colonel, the trash cots had been removed and discarded two days earlier, as ordered.

 Upon finding cots on the patio early Monday morning, Baldrick assumed they were the old cots since he assumes that if he doesn’t babysit every order it simply won’t be carried out. In a shocking display of adolescent power pique, the Lt. Colonel pulled his knife and slashed the PSD cots to ribbons, then left the scene.

 The Lt. Colonel admitted the heinously ineffective and childish act to PSD team leader Rhys Black late that afternoon, after overhearing Black angrily telling Administrative Assistant Joy Maxon about the slashed cots.

 “Rhys was pretty pissed,” Maxon said. “Well,” she added with a grin, “You know Rhys.” (We do!)

 “I was just trying to make sure that the place was cleaned up for you guys,” Baldrick was overheard telling Rhys, Baldy’s perpetually gung-ho smile in place. “I wanted it to look nice for you guys when you moved in.”

 “We thought it was the Iraqis,” PSD team member Scott admitted when told who the culprit was. “Does Rhys know? He’s ranting! He thought it was the Iraqis.” When asked why the Iraqis would bother doing such a thing, he shrugged. “We hate them,” he said bluntly, as if making perfect sense.

“It’s just disgusting!” Admin Asst Anna Lee exclaimed. “The Colonel is a sick man. To slash anything as a solution?! He’s a very sick man.”

 “Come on now,” Crazy LTC Corbin Corviday commented in a very reasonable tone of voice. “He’s trying. I don’t agree with many of his decisions – well, any of his decisions really … But you have to understand that he’s not used to civilians. He’s used to cadets.”

 “He is a cadet,” someone muttered.

 Camp Manager Spike was laughing too hard to comment. When asked if ‘Slasher’ Baldrick was going to replace the cots, he could only nod.


Sexiest Eyes on Base

 A base in the south, Iraq Camp Manager Spike Abbott has received a unanimous vote as Man with the Sexiest Eyes on Base. The best view is said to be in full sunlight, when he moves his sunglasses down on his nose to look over them while he talks to you.

 Interviewed just after speaking to Spike, two of the three women on base actually had little to say about his eyes, though their expressions were a fair judge of the impact they have on women.

“Lord, almighty,” Admin Asst Anna Lee commented breathlessly, tugging at her shirt. “Is the air conditioning working in here or not?”

 Seren Seren, BS Resident Office ConRep/Proj Eng/RE/COR fanned herself with one hand while she sank slowly onto the couch in the front office.

 When asked what color Spike’s eyes are, both women responded with a completely blank look.

 “What?” Anna said distractedly in her distinctive southern drawl. 

 “Hmm?” Seren asked in a faint voice. “Sorry?”

 “You have to understand,” Crazy LTC Corbin Corviday commented upon observing the effect Spike’s eyes had invoked in the two women. “We’re stationed in an area of limited sensory satisfaction. These women are woefully deprived of color and beauty here in the desert, … now they’ve found one small, striking attraction in the otherwise bleak and terrible landscape, and my guess is that they’ll take advantage of this. They will make up reasons to talk to Spike every chance they get. To tell you the truth, they will probably hound that poor man to death. They will probably break things in their rooms so they have an excuse to go hunt him down to get them fixed.”

 Corviday cleared his throat rather ostentatiously, then, and added, “He does have beautiful eyes, Spike does. They’re quite striking. I think they’re green. A sort of complex hazel, actually. The lashes are exceptionally dark, and long enough that they curl, highlighting the eye, accentuating the rich hazel tones. Spike’s dark complexion only intensifies the effect of his exceptional eyes.” 

 “Nice ass, too,” one of the women muttered dreamily.

George of the Jungle (Logistics) as a close friend and associate of Spike’s was asked to comment on Spike’s title of Sexiest Eyes on Base. “What?” he said. “What?! Spike’s eyes? They’re on the hand receipt! I’m sure they are!  Did you find a contractor camp tag on them? What are you telling me? You people are killing me here …”


Bat Camp BAO Offices Centralize on One Side of Building

 A base in the south, Iraq The B Area offices were successfully transferred to the new BAT camp nearly two weeks ago. Instead of offices being scattered throughout separate trailers as they were so comfortably arranged at the old contractor camp, the offices at the BAT Camp are centralized in one large, noisy, ugly room.

 “We’re very pleased with the arrangement,” LTC ‘Slasher’ Baldrick said in a recent press conference. “I made them put the desks and printers where I want them, totally disregarding operational efficiency and the situational comfort of these employees who volunteered to work here in Iraq, and cheerfully work all hours of the day and night, often past allowed overtime so, of course, without pay …  I can tell they’re all quite pleased. We all think the move went very, very smoothly, and we’re quite proud of ourselves.”

 “He’s a lunatic,” one of the Con Reps muttered sotto voce.

‘Slasher’ Baldrick has banned printers at individual desks, although some of the sub-offices have their own printers, and efficiency would suggest there is no point to their centralization.

 “It’s important to centralize,” Slasher explained enthusiastically. “Everyone understands that. We operate as a team, and we have to learn to share. It’s important to teach children that, and it’s equally important to remind ourselves as adults of that core value. In addition,” he pointed out, “I want this office to look professional. People will act professionally if they work in a professional environment.”

 “Oh, that works,” BSRO Con Rep/Project Engineer/acting RE/COR Seren Seren said brightly. “I always do feel more professional when I work in a mad zoo micro-managed by a lunatic. I felt like such a federal black sheep with my very own office over at the contractor camp. I just got too much done. It was too quiet and convenient.”

 “We’ve ordered cubicle dividers,” LTC Slasher continued. “That will be a great asset to this office. I know everyone is looking forward to getting those set up.”

 “I could have stayed home for cubicles,” BAO Resident Engineer Tom ‘Tommy Two-tone’ commented with uncharacteristic scorn.

 “But there aren’t any mortars at home,” LTC Corviday, Maysan RE pointed out. “There aren’t any IED’s. No Mahdi militia. What fun is that? Besides,” he added, “you have to understand where Slasher’s coming from. I don’t agree with all of Slasher’s decisions … well, I don’t agree with any of them. But he feels responsible for this camp. Every last, single, minute, ludicrously unimportant detail of it. He’s out of his depth, but he’s trying.  Slasher is just not used to civilians. He’s used to cadets.”

 “He is a friggin’ cadet,” someone muttered rather viciously.


Shrinkage Successful

 A base in the south, Iraq Everyone in the BAO office was successfully shrunk during the move to the new BAT camp in order to accommodate as many BAO employees as possible within the 50 sq feet allotted to them.

 The shrinkage was not strictly necessary in order to fit everyone into the office at this time, but LTC ‘Slasher’ Baldrick stated that more employees will be coming soon, so there needs to be room for them.

 BAO employees’ responses to Slasher’s statement was unanimously irritated amusement. BAO has been requesting additional staff for months. Each time people are assigned to be stationed in the BAO office, however, they inevitably get diverted to other locations before ever setting foot in BAO.

“If anyone ever shows up,” Anna Lee reasonably pointed out, “we could make room for them then. But frankly, no one’s going to show up down here unless HQ thinks they’re hideous personalities and they want to get rid of the person themselves.”

 “Um, we could have shrunk ourselves later,” BRO Con Rep Just Too Jivin’ Jake said perkily. “Um, we would have been happy to! Not that we weren’t happy to now! Um, I guess we didn’t mind!”

 “Yes,” BRO Resident Engineer Mark ‘Wo-wo’ Wospecki agreed. “Listen, it’s not that we mind being shrunk. We don’t mind being shrunk. It’s just that, well, listen – it’s just that it may not have been necessary at this time. That’s all we’re saying. It may not have been necessary at this time.”

 Area Engineer Tom ‘Tommy Two-tone’ said he didn’t mind being shrunk. “I was pretty small to start with,” he said. “What the heck, now my private office is just that much bigger!”

 The Bestest Children’s Hospital (BCH) staff were offered and accepted the extra body mass left over from the shrinkage operation. BCH occupies approximately 5000 sq feet of space on the other side of the U-shaped building.

 “We have plenty of room for the extra mass,” Commander Skip explained. “We have a lot of space for a reason. Besides all the people we’ll have, we’ll have a lot of paper, too. We need a lot of space to spread out.”

 “Spread this,” Admin Asst Anna Lee retorted good-naturedly behind Skip’s back, making an obscene gesture.

 “Besides,” Skip added, oblivious to Lee’s commentary, “Johnny (‘You Wan’ I Whack ‘im’ Datillo, Con Rep) is fatter than we had anticipated. We’re all big men over here, and don’t mind being bigger. We’re important men on an important project, so we take up more space physically, and even on the energy plane, than those who are just regular sized people working regular sized contracts. We’re using every square centimeter of that 5000 square feet, believe me.”


‘Slasher’ McDonald Bans Eye Candy

 A base in the south, Iraq In yet another shockingly useless display of power, LTC ‘Slasher’ Baldrick has issued an order that shirts must be worn at all times when outdoors at the BAT camp.

 “What!” Admin Asst Anna Lee nearly shouted when told of this latest edict. “What the hell is that all about?!”

 “Shit,” Seren Seren (ConRep/Proj Eng/BSRO RE/COR) muttered, incredulous. “He’s taking away our eye candy? I put up with six whistles, three honks and two shouts in a three mile walk around the base, then I don’t get some compensatory fun when I get home?!”

 “That’s just wrong,” visiting PM Mary Peters muttered.

 LTC Corviday agreed. “It’s yet another instance of military power and control gone awry,” he said with a thoughtful look on his face. “I understand where he’s coming from, but I believe Slasher is wrong in this instance, as he is in most. Well, as he is in all. But specifically, in this instance, I believe ALL camp occupants should be allowed to go shirtless if they so choose.” He smiled innocently, giving Lee, Peters and Seren the once over.

 Lee rolled her eyes.

 “Are you mad at me?” Corviday asked her, leaning in to stare into her eyes. “Did I do something wrong?”

 “I feel like I don’t even know you anymore,” Anna responded petulantly.

 “He only banned shirtless men on the PSD patio area,” George Schneider, Logistics, interrupted. “Well, no, all over most of the camp, actually – except, back behind the trailers on the south side. The men can lie out in the sun back behind the trailers where the dog will live.”

 “Where’s this?” Mary Peters asked nonchalantly.

 “We’ll show you,” Anna told her quietly. “Don’t worry.”

 When queried as to why the men couldn’t go shirtless on their own patio area, George explained that the Colonel was “… concerned about the ladies. He didn’t want you ladies happening upon a bunch of shirtless men and being embarrassed.”

 “Embarrassed!?” Anna Lee shrieked.

 “Ladies?” Seren said with a bemused and amused expression. “Do we have new people coming in?”

 “That’s just wrong,” Mary Peters stated. “The man is a lunatic.”

 “He’s under that category on the hand receipt,” George of The Jungle confirmed.


‘Slasher’ Aims for Aesthetically Pleasing Camp

 A base in the south, Iraq LTC ‘Slasher’ Baldrick held a press conference on Thursday to announce his (OCD induced) desire that the B[-] Camp, which everyone else simply and logically calls BAT Camp, be aesthetically pleasing.

 The announcement was met with catcalls and derisive whistles.

 “I’m determined,” Slasher said, ducking to avoid a piece of chicken and two slices of tomato thrown at him by the unhappy crowd, “that this camp be the most beautiful camp on this Brit base, if not in Iraq.”

 “Is he aware that there’s a war going on?” Sgt Wavey Davey Odbard, Oil Office Con Rep, wondered, idly flicking some overcooked carrots around his plate.

 “Has he noticed that this relentlessly beige and grey environment does not generally or specifically lend itself to being called aesthetically pleasing?” Seren Seren, BS Resident Office ConRep/Proj Eng/RE/COR, asked with a certain amount of amusement. “Trailers,” she added, “are trash where I come from.”

 “He’s unbalanced,” Admin Asst Anna Lee explained. “That man is crazy.” Slasher allegedly left a photograph of the office on Anna Lee’s desk early this week. The photograph clearly emphasized boxes still sitting on desktops waiting to be unpacked, and was interpreted to be a passive-aggressive commentary on the unkempt state of Anna Lee’s office.

Slasher went on to detail his concern that people are not taking him or his goals seriously. The LTC, clearly aggrieved, though with the perpetual gung-ho smile firmly in place, said that within the space of the past three days he’d had to tell Dan Dan the Hard Working Man to tuck in his shirt when he’s working hard, ‘Wildman’ Rob Chillish to pull up his pants before he bends over, SGT Wavey Davey Odbard to quit making funny faces in the DFAC, and he told Seren Seren that if she couldn’t control her own hair he’d cut it off himself. “It’s always flyaway, straggly, ends all over the place,” Slasher complained. “It looks very unprofessional and I’m sick of looking at it.”

Unfazed by the derisive hoots and whistles still going on around him, Slasher added to his list of petty grievances by stating that he’d recently had to straighten six desks, trim the unruly flowers planted in the front of the office, slash unsightly cots (see ‘Cot Cutter Colonel” p. 1),  and dust the windowsills. His attempt to burn 16 trailers and conexes was averted by George. “They just look bad,” Slasher complained. “They’re dusty.”

“His brain is dusty,” George said with disgust. “Someone put him out of our misery. If I accidentally lock him in a conex and ship it to the K-border, would anyone notice?”

“No,” the whole camp population replied in unrehearsed yet perfect unison.


PSD Leadership Reassigned

 A base in the south, Iraq   Mr. Dorking, PSD project lead, has been reassigned to an obscure base north of Iraq. He will be replaced by the only American on the PSD team, Mr. Snarks.

 The change in management is suspected to be a result of the team pooling their sniveling talents and successfully directing them at the head office back in Britain in order to remove Mr. Dorking.

 “The team used to hate me,” Snarks admitted. “They treated me like shit. But I did a good job in the position while Dorking was on leave.”

 “No one likes Dorking,” he went on to explain. “He’s worthless. Everyone wanted me for the job. It’s because I’m so great. Now they all want to be friends with me. And they should, because I’m very good at this job.”

 “Snark’s an idiot, actually,” PSD team leader Rhys Black told this reporter in a quiet voice. “But no one else wanted the job and it gets him off my team.” Black grinned.

 Dorking expressed some dissatisfaction with his reassignment. “This place they’re sending me,” he said, “No one has heard of it. The front office told me that it’s extremely dangerous. The one PSD man who’s there now rarely even leaves his hooch. The place is infested with Iraqis, many of them militia. They recently stole 15 armoured Humvees.”

 “Tough luck,” Snarks said, shrugging. “Have you seen George around? I need another file cabinet.”


Mystery Movie Star Sighting Explained

 A base in the south, Iraq    A vaguely familiar man has been seen around camp wearing sunglasses everywhere he goes. Many residents have assumed he is a movie star, and were asking Seren Seren, BS Resident Office, if she knew who he was, and if she’d get his autograph for them.

 “He spends a lot of time in the private office next to mine,” Seren explained. “They thought I had an ‘in’.”

 As it happens, the mystery movie star was only Boss Tommy Two-tone.

 Tom ‘Tommy Two-tone’, BAO Resident Engineer, scratched an eye playing a wild game of soccer (football) Tuesday night over at the contractor camp. The Brit Camp medic dismissed the injury, apparently jaded by dealing with men coming into the infirmary missing entire limbs. He tossed Tommy some eye drops, told him to “buck up, mate,” and suggested he take up cricket.

 On his way to play another soccer game on Thursday evening, Tom said he didn’t expect his half blindness to affect his game. “No worries,” he cheerfully told friends, “I could probably play blind and it wouldn’t really matter.”


PSD Teams Pulverize George’s Patience

 A base in the south, Iraq    In an unprecedented outburst of unadulterated annoyance, George ‘George of The Jungle’, Logistics, verbally blasted PSD leadership last weekend during the PSD team’s move to the new camp.

 “I’ve never witnessed such a pathetic display of childish sniveling in my life,” George said with disgust.

 In moving their offices to the new Bat Camp, one team’s project leaders whined that another team was receiving preferential treatment, then demanded that 1. their team’s office trailer at the old camp be transported whole to the new camp; 2. that they be given at least 56% more overall working space than the other team; 3. that their office be furnished with two locking, matching four-drawer file cabinets; 4. that they be given six brand new armoured Suburban vehicles; and 4. that their trailer be situated with an aesthetically pleasing view.

 Predictably, the other team power-whined right back, presenting George with their own demands, which included 1. two armory containers, 2. four matching, locking-drawer file cabinets; 3. eight virgins; and 4. a better view than the other team.

 “I’m tempted,” George said through clenched teeth, “to put them all in one conex together, fully armed, and be done with it. These people are killing – “

 “Hey George,” PSD project lead Mr. Snarks called out, interrupting. “Look at this shit! Our trailer is all tippy! The other team’s trailer has blocks under its feet to level it!”

 George’s face turned an unhealthy shade of red. “I’ll level something for you,” he muttered.

 Sources say the one team is unlikely to get the virgins, although most of the other demands will probably be met.

 “You’ve got a bunch of pissed off men with guns,” someone pointed out, “who are responsible for protecting us. What are you going to do? Tell them to piss off?”


Bestest Children’s Hospital Contract Awarded

 A base in the south, Iraq    The contract for the Bestest Children’s Hospital (BCH) was awarded at the eleventh hour, just before the end of fiscal year 2006. The final week was touch and go, the contractor unwilling to lower his bid and the government unwilling to match the contractor’s price tag. They finally agreed on a price of about US$942 billion, not including security, bricks and daily tea.

 “We’re very pleased that this contract was signed before the money disappeared at the end of the fiscal year,” LTC ‘Slasher’ Baldrick told reporters. “If it hadn’t been awarded, we would have had to rearrange the office.”

 “This is a very important project,” Commander Skip said with satisfaction. “It makes us very important people. It will now become obvious why we have 5000 sq feet of office space and BAO has 500.”


Sgt Major Hubbub Catches the Bug

 A base in the south, Iraq Sgt Major Hubbub, HQ, has apparently caught the same bug LTC ‘Slasher’ Baldrick suffers from: Officerensis foolishii. The Sgt Major has ordered that all personnel will wear full military uniform when traveling outside a secure area.

 “Can I just paint a target on my back?” Wildman Rob Chillish, Oil Office Project Engineer, asked with a perplexed look on his face. “Is that allowed?”

 “On the uniform?” Crazy LTC Corviday replied. “That would be defacing government property, a federal offence. Besides,” he pointed out, “it would be repetitively redundant.”

 “It’s ludicrous, really,” PSD crew member Taz commented. He made a funny face and caught the eye of other crew members before adding, “Think of how very silly Anna, Joy and Seren will look at Camp Freddy in uniforms! We’ll never find them in the crowd when we’re ready to leave and need to round them up.”

 Stifling a snicker, team leader Rhys Black caught himself and coughed politely before more seriously pointing out that if GRS were wearing uniforms, it would make the PSD teams’  job of protecting GRS personnel that much harder. “They’re targets in civilian clothes, but at least they don’t scream ‘military,’” he explained. “The military are prime targets.”

 “We’ll be putting our Iraqi engineers in greater danger,” Seren, BS Resident Office, said pensively. “Some have already had death threats for associating with us. I’m not sure this is a good idea. It puts everyone in a very awkward position.”

 “So what else is new,” Anna Lee muttered.

 Although LTC ‘Slasher’ Baldrick was granted the flexibility to identify project sites where uniforms need not be worn, no one is holding their breath for a reprieve from that front. The only site he’s likely to identify is the one he visits as often as he possibly can: BCH. Slasher harbors hopes of hitting an IED so he can collect his CAB and Purple Heart. (LTC Corviday points out that everyone has their priorities … )

 “Brass!” Anna Lee said scowling. “They’re all sick and dangerously ignorant men.” Corviday cleared his throat. “Present company excepted,” Anna Lee added hastily.

 The general hope is that someone higher up in the chain of command will rescind the order before someone gets shot.

 “It won’t stick,” BAO Resident Engineer Tom ‘Tommy Two-tone said. “I don’t think it will.

 When Seren Seren was asked if she thought the order would stick, however, she looked at the interviewer with scorn. “Of course it will stick,” she said, implying ‘you moron.’ “These are military men,” Seren went on a bit tediously. “Even if there’s one brain up there in HQ wearing brass, he won’t diss another officer by rescinding that other officer’s order. The officers support each other. They have to, don’t they, or they’d undermine their own authority by implication.”

 “That is essentially correct,” LTC Corviday confirmed. “They can’t afford to rescind this order. At least not before some time has passed. Or someone gets shot, whichever comes first. I can’t say that I think this order is a good idea myself,” he said, “but I can see where the officers are coming from…”

 “From the fucking moon, is where,” Anna Lee snapped.

 Mohammed, Iraqi engineer for BS Resident Office, was reportedly alarmed upon hearing the news. “Dear,” he wrote in an email to Seren, “you must not visit the sites as so with military uniforim you will be shot also alredy it is quit dangerous for me this will be bad security situation .As frind I ask you plese be careful not to visit boss also kidnapping is possible security issue for you.”

 “Mohammed is already half underground,” Seren explained. “Tribal issues. If I show up at his site, who knows – maybe that’s enough to get him killed.”

 LTC ‘Slasher’ Baldrick appears oblivious to the barrage of resistance which with the order is being met. “It’s an order,” he said, smiling broadly, staring into people’s eyes as if willing them to join him in the la-la land of Officerensis foolishii. “That being said, I expect full compliance, and hope you’ll all remember to tidy up your office before you leave for the field.”

 As the PSD team finished helping Anna Lee, Joy and Seren into the vehicle for the mail run to Camp Freddy yesterday, the first days of enforcement of the uniform mandate, the women were obviously cranky. Rhys Black smiled as he closed the last door. “There now,” he said sweetly, “all my little hobbits in, then?”

 “This is going to be even worse than I thought,” Joy sighed.

 Camp residents are reportedly collecting money to fund research for an Officerensis foolishii vaccine.


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