Lake Charles, LA - So now I'm up in the mix. I'm at the a McDonalds in Lake Charles, about 25 miles from the Texas border. Nicest McDonalds I've ever seen. High speed internet. HDTV screens all over the place. Leather seats. The bathroom doesn't stank.
I'm jealous. Why can't we have McDonalds like this in H-Town? And every other sizeable city I've been in. Every McDonalds I've ever been to has been ghett.
Last night, I slept on a cot. Outside. In the Parking Lot of the Louisania National Air Guard. Next to my fully-loaded, work-issued Ford Focus Station Wagon. Never thought I'd ever drive a station wagon. Too "Brady Bunch" for my taste. But, hell, I put Stevie Wonder in the CD player and was ROLLING through Texas.
Doing the military, sleep outside shit, but it was kind of peaceful, too. Haven't slept outside in a while, and looking up at the stars was kind of cool. Made me realize: we're not the only ones out there.
But then, that's what this whole week has been about, if you think about it. If Hurricane Katrina has taught us anything, it's that there are things that we can't control. Period. It's not a religious issue. Or even a spiritual one. It's a simple scientific one. Some force, SOMETHING, created Katrina, just like something created the stars I was gazing up at last night.
We won't be rolling to NOLA as soon as I'd hoped. I'm with the Texas National Guard, and writing about their rescue efforts. Cool story. And I'm geeked. We were going to leave Lake Charles and go to Baton Rouge, where I was going to hop on a helicopter and fly down to Nola and watch rescue efforts.
But, problems, problems. When we woke up this morning, we learned that not only are the roads to NOLA still closed, but - and this shit is a trip - fools in New Orleans are shooting at the rescue helicopters.
Yep. Not only are we looting, robbing, hijacking cars, taking over school buses, stealing vacuum cleaners and shooting police officers in the fo head, we're also trying to SHOOT DOWN THE PEOPLE THAT ARE TRYING TO RESCUE US.
Unbelievable. Makes you wonder what the world is coming to.
Right now, I'm just waiting to hear back on the plan for the day. I've got to go back to the Armory to get further instructions. If I do fly with them today, they assure me that I'll be on a Blackhawk Helicopter, and no one can bring one of those down. I'm skeptical. I saw "Blackhawk Down."
I know this: military life ain't for me. First of all, getting up at 5 am ain't gon work. Hell, I have trouble making it to work at 9:30. And, I noticed that military people will just randomly get ready whereever they are. I saw this one reservist standing outside in the dark this morning, shaving, using the mirror from his van as a guide. I don't think so. I'm a civilian. I need a bathroom and a mirror and a faucet.
On the other hand, it makes me realize how spoiled we civilians are. I'm also seeing how military people simplify things to the nth degree. They pack light and tight, and keep only the things they need with them. We could learn a few things from them, if you think about it.
Last night, I realized I forgot to bring a towel. So, after I showered, I simply used the shirt I was wearing to dry off before changing. Yeah, I felt kind of dumb standing in the shower room with all these naked reservists and I'm the only fool without a towel, but, hey, I did what military people do all the time: I improvised.
Guess I'm learning.