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.

2 Comments:

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