Postcards from Tradocia

roach motel

We moved into our “new” room last week, in the building that houses the DFAC, internet, chapel, and gym. As I laid on my bed after moving in, I was pretty pleased with our new digs: the TV was set up, we had wall lockers, and I was no longer sleeping on a cot.

Let me give you a tour!

The place is lit by a single bare fluorescent bulb on the wall; the carpet is stripes of sickly gray (probably used to be beige) and green; there’s a creepy-looking 5′ by 3′ hole in the wall near the ceiling (10 feet up) that looks like it used to be covered with some kind of grate for the non-functioning ventilation system. (We covered that with cardboard to defend against what must be swarms of dog-sized lizards and spiders living up there, just waiting for us to fall asleep so they can descend and molest us.) Dirty black cobwebs hang from every high corner and window, waving in the air conditioner’s cool breeze.

For some reason some residents insist on keeping the exterior door at the end of the hall closed – even though the top half of glass, from waist to ceiling, is gone. Maybe it keeps the cats out? It sure doesn’t do much for rats. Our air conditioner is stuck through the window, the pane of glass removed and the gap filled with slices of cardboard; the double window above it looks for all the world like a drive-through window at McDonald’s and is held shut with packing tape. Huge flakes of paint and plaster dangle from the ceiling right over SPC Little Dick’s bed, so depending on the activity level of the upstairs neighbor he’s usually brushing some amount of debris from his bedding every day.

Back to the air conditioner: despite its filthiness it’s obviously not original equipment, not only because of the cardboard window dressing but because of the way the power cable is somehow spliced into a cable running from the room next door, which also supplies the room’s main outlet. Rather conveniently, this cable also stretches at knee height right across the “patio” door, turning our daily transit into a mini-obstacle course. I suppose it’s a major fire hazard, but none of the doors or windows are particularly sturdy so I suppose we can just crash though any one of them in an emergency. (The walls, on the other hand, are plaster over solid brick – great for our late-night partying.)

We’re particularly lucky in that we have a semi-functional bathroom; there’s no light, though, so it’s a setting of romantic solitude unless you bring a flashlight. The toilet didn’t work intially, but SGT Boner fiddled with it enough that now it’s a real power flusher, though the monster suds from the blue 5 Billion Flushes or whatever in the tank threatens to overwhelm the bowl sometimes. The shower has two settings: regular cold and ice cold, but it works, and for a time it was just about the only working shower on the FOB. Once they finish moving the shower trailers over here, I’ll probably go back to using those – advantage: hot water, disadvantage: sand flies.

Crap, this sounds more like Gulag Archipelago than Fantasy Island. Actually, it’s really a classic definition of a “roach motel” – though of course I’m much better armed and armored than your typical fleabag visitor. But trust me, it’s great, really! (What’s the structure equivalent of “she’s got a great personality”? “The building has a lot of character”?)


  1. kelly

    Assemble a decorating team and flush out those cord displacements, and patch those holes boys! miss u Alex, cant wait for u to come home.

  2. Bryce and Lola

    Get a broom and knock down those cobwebs. Love

  3. Mom and Dad

    I suppose you’d get in trouble if you cut loose with your M249 on a dog-sized lizard or spider?

    Would you have to explain to a game warden?

    Love, Dad

  4. Some Soldier's Mom

    so much for all the unit newsletters spouting how “we’ve moved in to our quarters and have spent considerable time and energy making them quite comfortable”?

    as for lizards, they eat spiders and bugs (well those smaller than them anyways) and as for flies and roaches — maybe Raid needs some free advertising?

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