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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Strange Memories

I was voting on blogs yesterday over at BlogExplosion, and I read an interesting post by Blue Panther on his blog The Blue Panther Experience and Other things... about an embarrassing moment in his past, and it got me thinking about one from my past.

So, just so he doesn't feel all alone, I've decided to share a humiliating incident that happened when I was station in Germany.

Normally, I wouldn't reveal something along those lines—in spite of what Jacqueline Susann told us, once is enough—but this one happens to be a bit amusing as well.

Hey, if I can't laugh at myself, who can I laugh at, right?

Anyway, when I was in Germany, I lived on Uncle Sam's nickle "off-site" due to a shortage of barracks space, even though I was single (most single enlisted stayed in barracks).

I also got my driver's license late in life, and said license was some years out yet at this time, so I would hitch a ride whenever I needed to go to the site (a phrase which here means: "when I needed to work my shift").

Sometimes this meant, literally, hitch-hiking by standing on the side of the road leaving town toward the site, watching for a car with the distinctive plates issued to U.S. servicemen at that time, and then sticking my thumb out when I saw one.

At the time of this incident, I was living in an apartment by myself, and had to work the swing shift (4 PM to midnight). The schedule at this site was a bit odd, five shifts working the following rotation:

  • two days in a row of day shift (8 AM to 4 PM), the second day shift followed by 24 hours off
  • then two days in a row of swing shift, the second swing shift followed by 24 hours off
  • then two days in a row of midnight shift (midnight to 8 AM), the second "mid" shift followed by 96 hours off

I'd gotten to bed late that night (or rather, as is usual with swing shifts, I got to bed early the next morning, about 2 AM or so).

So, anyway, I woke up and glanced at my alarm clock—set for 10 AM—and saw that it said 4:30 or so.


Here I was, fully rested, and with the clearest recollection of turning the alarm off and going back to sleep.

CRAP!!! It had to be 4:30 in the afternoon! I was late for my shift!

Not only was I late, I probably wouldn't get a ride anytime soon because the bunch heading up for a movie or, more likely, to hit the NCO club that night, wouldn't be coming by until about 6 PM or so!

So I quickly cleaned myself up, got into my uniform, and went outside with hopes someone would head up earlier than that.

No such luck.

I sat there from almost 5 until 6, then 7 o'clock. Finally, at around 7:20, here comes one of the folks that worked in my area, so I stuck out my thumb and he pulled over!

After some of the usual pleasantries, he asked "Do you have an appointment at the site today?"

"Nope," I replied.

"Well, didn't you work day shift yesterday?"

A feeling of unease crept into my belly. "Yes," I cautiously replied. "Now I'm late for swings."

You can probably guess his reply by now, right: "Or about eight hours early," he said, pulling the car off to the side of the road. "It's 7:20 AM. It isn't too far back to your apartment from here; go get some more sleep!"

Evidently I dreamt—quite possibly the most realistic dream in the history of dreaming—that I'd turned off the alarm and went back to sleep.

Needless to say, when I got in to work that afternoon, I was the talk of the site. Every joker in the building had something amusing to say about me or my alarm clock! The site commander even made an excuse to come to our building and run into so he could make some smarmy remark.

Pretty amusing, no?


Blue Panther said...


Could happen to anyone, just once, but it could happen to anyone!

However bad it migfht be back then, but now, I am sure, you can laugh about it and this is a story that you could use to entertain any crowd, anytime.