TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN
“You’re at the top of the mountain, gentlemen,” our ACE said, addressing us on our first morning back at the freshly-renamed Cyber Center (or Cellar, if you prefer) of Excellence. “From here on out, it’s all downhill.”
I’m back at Fort Gordon for my third and final phase of warrant officer basic course (WOBC), and the mountain analogy is an apt one: descending from the summit, I look into the valley below, and I’m not sure I like what I see. I’m not sure what I expected, but I always thought it would look more like the Shire. Instead, from afar, it’s more like Dagorlad.
I can’t coalesce that idea any further, so don’t read too much in to it; it could be a manifestation of Army school-induced ennui, or a sign of all-too-common mid-career fatigue. Always in motion, the future is – so what one sees from the peak may look different at the floor of the valley.
There are three hotel-like buildings on Fort Gordon. Last time, I stayed in Ring Hall, a seven-story facility crawling with cute baby lieutenants. This time, I was assigned to Stinson Hall, a kind of skeezy drive-in motel deal with sticky old carpet and peeling paint. As soon as I opened the door, I had reservations about the place, but it’s free living and besides, I could park right outside my door. Hell, it’s not like I was in Iraq or something…how bad could it be?
My rhetorical question was answered by the next day, when I went to put away some groceries in the under-counter cabinet. A pair of dead cockroaches greeted me – but hey, they were dead! On the counter went the groceries, and I liberally applied bug spray around the door and in the cabinet, but the next evening the roaches had their revenge.
Getting up from my chair, a roach was casually sitting on the floor, which of course led to me screaming in terror (it was armed, I swear). I stomped on it but not hard enough, so I went to the cabinet for the bug spray – only to discover a group of the fuckers fairly taunting me. I gave them a blast from the spray can and slammed the door shut, only to find another pair had escaped chemical death. I hit them with foot and spray; within minutes, I had five dead roaches splattered across my floor. That was IT (cue the reaction GIF) – I called the front desk and politely said, “get me the FUCK out of here.”
That night, I moved over to Griffith Hall, thus completing the trifecta of lodging on base.