Saturday, October 18, 2003

"Starving Kids" Pass Up Cake, The Major Distances Himself from Lonely USAID Woman

18 October, 2003 1900

What a day. It actually rained. I went on a good run too. I’ve been blocking out all that chatter about “finding motivation to run through finding females.” It was cloudy and cool, overcast and grey, raining lightly. It was great! It reminded me of Germany with you in the fall time. Just the color and coolness was enough for me to feel like I was in Germany for a few minutes. I love you Nora. I woke up this morning and had an awesome dream of us being reunited. We were embracing and kissing so much, and it was so real. We were at a restaurant too, I think in the States. Everywhere we went, we were hugging. Like we do when it’s winter and waiting to cross the road, and we cuddle so close. Nora, it’s so beautiful, I love you so!
I called you this morning too, you were somewhere in Spain, stopped at a rest stop. I wish I was there with you. I won’t be long though.
Today I gave some bears to the Iraqi workers here. It was only after they hassled me. A few weeks ago, I gave each person a bear, and told them, ‘one each.’ You have to do this because they’ll say one person got one more than the other. Well, sure enough, they started pouting and begging for another additional one. So I let some get another out of the box. One tried to hide one, and take another. I stopped him, and he immediately insisted he should get two. Then he said I wasn’t his friend, even though I had already given him one earlier. Some of these Iraqis are like that – ungrateful and pouty. Some behavior is uniform with these people. I remember one boy asked for cake. So I brought him a cake from our rations – the type he asked for. I gave it to him, and he just tossed it on the ground when he saw it was pineapple flavored and not vanilla.
“No mista! No good, give me cake!”
I looked at the cake sitting on the ground across the razor wire. ‘Are these people really starving, or are they just lazy and picky?’ Of course, you have to remind yourself that these squatters are on the lower end of the ladder socially, so not all Iraqis are like that. Anyways, with the bears, I told each to take one – and sure enough, later they would beg and bother about getting another one, even though I explained to them one means one. It began to make me angry because I’m trying to be nice, and they’d stop me on the way to work (they don’t understand we have to work too) and say,
“Give me dog,” they mean bear, “I gave the one you gave me to my cousin.”
I’d go ask his cousin, and the cousin would say he got no bear. So someone is lying. You have to learn to be strict with these people, or else they get out of control. They’ll be nice until they don’t get what they ask for – then they call you a liar and say you aren’t a friend anymore. A lot of them are like that, so you just give them things once and a while. And no means no. Again, not all are like this, but a lot are.
I gave one bear to one guy I know well, because he said his girlfriend had a birthday. Well, I found out Sergeant Ramos took the bear from him. Now Sergeant Ramos already tried to take bears I have for children from my boxes. I caught him trying to sneak some. When I asked him, he started laughing nervously and said,
“Ah, come on, I need something to send my kids.” This horrible NCO is making thousands of dollars a month here, and he’s trying to steal from me presents for poor people. So, when I heard he had taken a bear from the Iraqi, I knew something was wrong.
‘He probably took it from him to send home,’ I thought. So, I found Sergeant Ramos and asked, ‘Did you take a bear from one of your workers?’
“Maybe,” he answered.
‘Well, that was a gift to him, and he needs to get it back.’
“Well, I threw it away. I don’t know where it is,” he said with a look of defiance and with his usual obnoxious voice.
‘Well, you better find it, and he better get it back – I am going to ask him later. If he doesn’t get it back, I am going to talk to someone about it,’ I said very matter of fact. I could just see him packing that bear he took the Iraqi up in a box. As soon as he told me about the bear being in the trash, I knew he was lying. I told him again, ‘You will find it, give it back – or else I will make sure someone hears about it.’ I walked off and left him looking nervous. The Iraqi got his bear back, and I went later in the day to ask him if he got it back. He said he did, and he put his hand over his heart and gave me a warm thank you for getting the bear back for him. I got frustrated just thinking about Sergeant Ramos doing what he did, and I could see right through him.
Not everyone is bad though. It is a mix, as with anything in life. I remember a few weeks ago, we were talking to Major Stanton about the USAID woman who was trying so hard to get close to him. He would see her sometimes, but never completely in private. It was sort of entertainment for us to poke fun at him over this American woman just throwing herself at him. At one point, we all wondered if he would actually pay her more attention and meet privately with her. It never happened though, and he explained it, after we went to the Al-Rasheed and Miss Borders and he ate at the restaurant at a distance from us soldiers (Conroy, Peterson, etc.), he said,
“I told her it wasn’t right that we meet and eat out, when my own soldiers can’t go out on a date,” (or something to that effect).
“Aw! Sir! You’re crazy! You could be getting laid on a regular basis,” some guys in the TOC said.
“Na, don’t need it. There are consequences for everything – there’s a price for everything. You may not see it now, but there is a cost.” Major Stanton! Actually practicing and preaching self control and even a hint of morality! Hooray! Not that he is immoral – he’s not, he doesn’t show any signs of being immoral. Other people do though, and it disappoints you because they are in leadership positions. I had to grin, actually pretty wide, and happy that Major Stanton scored a point for the good guys. A ray of light in a morally cloudy place. I don’t know him or his past well at all – but he’s pretty alright by me.


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