In Iraq for 365

About my experiences in Iraq... the frustrations, the missions and this country... and the journey home

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Care packages

Care packages equal morale in Iraq. In the last three days, I’ve received Christmas packages from all my friends, family and ex-girlfriends. My room has as many boxes as it does dirty clothes. It’s a pig sty right now, but in a good way. I feel so loved!

However, over the past 11 months, I’ve received some strange things from folks. Take for example, these luscious brownies I received. Still moist, the dark morsels of chocolate made my mouth salivate and instantly hungry when I opened the box. Also inside was soap, toothbrushes and deodorant… a very typical care package. But when the box travels thousands of miles in the suffocating heat, there’s a colligation of the package’s innards. When my teeth sunk into the sweet, soft fudge brownie, my tongue didn’t touch a pleasant surface. Rather, my taste buds were subjected to “Zest” fully clean. Talk about a surprise. What’s more is the soap smelled like brownies and the toothbrushes had something growing on them. I’m sure a scientist would have loved to examine the package. For all I know, the cure for AIDS could have been in there.

Another time, my buddies sent me condoms. I thought to myself, “What the hell am I going to do with these things?” They were extra small. Real funny, guys.

Somebody once sent me a pair of jeans and T-shirt. I haven’t worn civilian clothes in a year. Of course, with all mail I receive, I am just thankful somebody took the time and cared enough about me. But seriously you have to laugh.

I’ve received 423 toothbrushes, 80 bars of soap and more baby wipes than Bill Clinton has illegitimate children. I always seem to run low on razors, but I have a theory for that. Razors are expensive. Don’t take this the wrong way, again, I love every piece of mail I receive, but people tend to have a main effort piece and then stuff the rest of the box with lesser supporting materials. The main effort could be a homemade loaf of banana bread or a Game Boy. The supporting elements are usually life’s essentials: personal hygiene products (Q-tips, toilet paper, etc.) and for some reason, everybody keeps sending me lotion. Back to my theory, the supporting goods usually still have the price tag on them when the more expensive items’ label is scratched out or peeled off. Take for example this IPOD was sent with three 30 cent packages of mint, wintergreen and strawberry chewing gum. The IPOD probably cost around $200, but the person didn’t want me knowing how much they spent. There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s just funny.

Also, when somebody sends a package, I sometimes forget to tell them I received it. After about two months of waiting for me to say “thanks for the package,” they send me a note, “hey, uh, we sent you a package a year ago. Have you gotten it?” Even if I haven’t, I say yes. I’ll be honest, mail gets lost. Mail trucks have been blown up, mortars have caught mail on fire and sometimes a box ends up in the corner of a Saudi Arabian hotel janitor closet. I know it would hurt my feelings if I spent all kinds of time picking out stuff to send to a soldier in Iraq, only to learn the package didn’t make it. This is their way of saying thanks.

That’s why I thoroughly enjoy every piece of mail I get, even if the brownies do taste like soap.


At 8:16 AM, Blogger Army Mom said...

I have an answer about WHY you get soap, toothbrushes, lotion etc. They top the list with every group that collects stuff for care packages. I am sure razors are on there somewhere. Those lists are widely circulated.

I personally just went on a "personal products" run for a local group. I did, however buy razors (about 200 Bic disposables)for the collection since I know how important they are for both guys and girls. I also bought several rolls of no tp on the cheap!

Take care. Keep safe.

At 9:35 AM, Blogger Molicious said...

I recently signed up to "adopt" a soldier and send them a care package. They stressed lots of lotions and wipes. Glad I found your page. Could you please make out a quick list of things that are truly needed. I don't want to send crap to a soldier, something they need and will use. By the way, I'm really enjoying your blog. It's great that you have access over there to write.

At 7:37 AM, Blogger Kim said...

I will never be able to send another care package over there without thinking about this post! Thank for the info... and the story :)

At 9:55 AM, Blogger CaliValleyGirl said...

I just read this post outloud to my parents and brother...they loved it. So funny...especially the condoms thing. I can remember when CB, from This War, wrote that there were condoms to buy in the PX...saying that was a great mystery to him...especially the fact they actually seemed to be an item that was purchased by fellow soldiers.

At 8:56 PM, Blogger JUST A MOM said...

Thanks for letting us know what not to send!!!! Keep it up. Hang in there!

At 2:50 PM, Blogger jes said...

hey! i'd love to send a care package. how do people who don't know anyone in the military send care packages?

At 4:00 PM, Blogger Army Mom said...

I heard on the news what happened today...I am keeping all you guys in my thoughts and prayers.

Stay strong...keep safe

At 3:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come and check it out if you get time :-) There is some of the most

At 6:46 PM, Blogger The Condom Spot said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!
Have a Safe Day
I have a **condoms** site/blog. It pretty much covers ##condoms## related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

At 5:37 AM, Blogger accordion-4C103C said...

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At 12:28 AM, Blogger Chlora said...

Just wanted to say great job, nice blog!


At 1:05 AM, Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12:32 PM, Blogger Roberto Iza said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 5:55 PM, Blogger Cayman's Mom said...

i love it! never will i ever stuff my husband's box of homemade brownies with soap again! thanks for the insight. hope your time passes fast and hurry home safe!

At 2:13 PM, Blogger aamaloney said...

oh this is a good site. my son's in iraq. it's good to see people posting real suggestions and feedback. few things to remember- sometimes the guys (and women) have microwaves and/ or refrigerators. sometimes they don't. my son has to eat the mre's a lot because he doesn't get to chow hall at the times when they're serving food. so if i can send him something filling that reminds him of home to eat in his room, it's great. he has a microwave now, so cup of soups or mac and cheese that's microwavable is good. before he had a microwave i sent him an 'immersion heater' and a huge mug. he could pour water from his canteen in to the mug and heat water. they he could pour it in to the cup o'soup. where my son is they get plenty of soap and personal hygeine stuff. he likes candy and snacks. it helps pass the time when they're having to sit and wait /be on call for hours on end. yes, be aware of the temperatures. it's easy enough to go online and google, for instance 'weather mosul iraq'. you'll find out exactly what the weather is. if it's a hundred and ten, don't send anything that melts. my mom sent some lemon pudding and it burst all over the package. anything that can break, put it in a zip lock bag. then you can wrap it in a newspaper or tissue paper.

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