War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

checkpoints

learning new things, necessity and all that, the home front shit-kicked while I’ve been away with the infantry, or work, I’m getting up close and personal with Repair 101.

number 1 on my list: fix holes in fence made by dogs allowed to run wild, the place looks like Dog Patch

so I drive to big-box hardware/lumber store with a piece of wood from my lattice and the girl on duty doesn’t know what it is, cedar, pressure-treated? she directs me to the lumberyard. the guy there could give a rats so I drive out to the edge of burbia and go to a real lumberyard where some dude (to use the vernacular) in a red and white bandana, grisly grey stubble, reflector jacket and shades comes out and helps me. and he reminds me of some gentle Sgt. type (I’ve met a few… well they were gentle around me in any case)

“Sgt.” calls me love and finds the right wood. teaches me how to cut it with a skill saw (it’s been years since I’ve used one). loads up my truck. ties it down. red flags the end. “see you love” he waves me out of the lumberyard towards the checkpoint.

and I’m thinking they’ll just wave me through. nope. this young dude (to use the vernacular) wearing a heavy metal baseball cap thing, Oakleys, safety jacket that looks vaguely like a frag, walks over to me, leans his elbow on my truck, asks me for my sales receipt for the wood even though he’s seen me with “Sgt.” and for a minute I swear I’m entering KAF by vehicle (which I did at one point) and this guy is a Bulgarian soldier (they and the Romanians have checkpoint duty) and he’s debating whether or not I can reenter KAF without my passport.

and lumber-dude (to use the vernacular) talks to me exactly like a switched on recce MCpl. pissed at pulling sentry duty, and I panic because I think I’ve lost my receipt. I get out of the car and search through my pockets of my jacket and find the receipt crumpled up. “MCpl.” takes the receipt and looks inside my truck then goes around to the back of the truck to count pieces of lumber and make sure that I’m not sneaking anything else out. and it’s weird but I have a serious flashback to that feeling sitting in the Coyote with a young Canadian Capt. waiting at the gate to KAF to find out if I’m stuck outside the wire.

after taking his time “MCpl.” says to me, “okay, you can go.” no thank you or anything from him. nothing. just the bored stroll back to his gatehouse. as he waves me through.

and I burst out laughing. wondered if he’s a young vet (doubt it though, his posture wasn’t all that good). and then driving away had the weird insight, just a tiny bit, of what it must be like for our men and women when they return to “normal” life after being in a war zone and something as innocuous as a checkpoint at a lumberyard might trigger something inside them. yikes.



oh, but the fence looks gucci now, real gucci.


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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled checkpoints. It was posted here on April 14, 2010.

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