The weapons of the signal soldier

The weapons of the signal soldier

Two of our laptops needed repair this last week, so we requested warranty service from Dell. No problem – I’ve dealt with Dell’s enterprise warranty service many times, and it’s generally been excellent. Imagine my surprise, then, when a pair of boxes arrived, and inside was a pile of parts – two sets of three-piece motherboards and a disassembled display. When I say disassembled, I mean there was a raw LCD panel, a nest of wires, a backplate, and a bezel. Evidently the Army’s warranty doesn’t include labor, so I spent a whole day elbow-deep in the two computers, stripping them completely to the chassis.

Luckily I had my trusty M9 by my side, should any wayward jihadists try to steal my gear.

At the height of the operation, the brigade sergeant major walked in, Diet Coke in hand, and goggled at the pile of parts on my desk. “What the hell are you doing?,” he exclaimed, gesturing with the can. “Depot-level maintenance, sergeant major.” He asked if I was qualified to do that kind of disassembly. I just shrugged and said, “Sure!” He laughed and walked away.

***

Today I had to go to the maintenance bay and one of the guys offered me a ride. “Nah,” I said, declining, “it takes longer if I walk.” As long as I’m walking, I can’t answer my phone, and I don’t have to talk to anyone. Plus, the weather here the last few days has been phenomenal, so I wanted to enjoy it. I took in the cool breeze, the warm sunshine, the waving grass and sighing oaks, the layered symphony of bird songs, all somehow unsullied (or maybe even enhanced) by the rumble of Humvees and rows of white-sided Army barracks. The beauty of the day, though, just sharpened the contrast between the beauty of central Wisconsin and the scorching sand-hell of Kuwait that awaits us, just a month away. Even worse is that I know what it will be like, to yearn for the sights, sounds, and smells of a living world instead of the dessicated alien planet of the desert, surrounded by nothing but sand and the artifice of man which both sustains and constrains us.

Maybe some Jim Brandenburg and Craig Blacklock posters are in order…