Thanks for the Memories

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But first, a “landscaper” update: My landscaper showed up yesterday around 2 p.m. and started installing my small landscape timber retaining wall. He also tells me that the dirt that was supposed to come yesterday, and without which, no plants can be inserted into said ground, won’t actually come until next Tuesday, and “Is that OK?”

Is that OK? No, actually it’s not OK. But what’re ya gonna do? He’s here because I didn’t want to get bogged down in the very logistics that he’s getting bogged down in, so it’s more than OK, it’s friggin just what the Dr. ordered! No, seriously I’m kinda ticked, but I guess I can wait a few more days for my perfect yard.

Now on to today’s topic.

You never know what’s going to set off a memory and today’s path down things best left forgotten comes from a photo mailer. Yes, a photo mailer. You know, one of those moderately rigid cardboard envelopes that you mail photos in…the ones that say, misleadingly “Photos – Do Not Bend!”

Ah, but they DO bend and therein lies today’s memory…

When I was in Air Force boot camp (yeah, ha ha! Suck it up jarhead! I might have only been in bootcamp for six weeks, but at least I was smart enough to learn a skill I could actually use in the REAL world!), we had this one big room that we called “The Day Room.” Now why we called it the Day Room, I have no idea. It’s what our Training Instructor (TI) called it and you don’t argue with a TI unless you want to be verbally abused for the next four hours. Anyway, we all gathered our shaven heads in this dayroom usually twice a day–once in the morning and again in the evening. It’s where we received any information we needed as a whole, rather than the usual “down the chain of command” information flow that normally presided.

Now, in the evenings we got mail. This was a special time because for the first few weeks we weren’t allowed to call or write home. We couldn’t eat candy or drink soda either, so the mail brought an opportunity for something special…or so we thought. Those poor saps who received a package were forced to open the package in front of everyone and pray to GOD that it didn’t contain anything contraband…which was pretty much anything good! One poor guy’s wife and friends thought it would be funny to send him a sexual blow-up doll. Oh wow! Was that a bad decision…

Anyway, if you received food and there wasn’t enough for everyone, you had two choices:
A) Eat it all by yourself right there, right then
B) Throw it away without touching it

The smart ones simply threw it away, but the first couple of suckers actually tried to eat a full load of brownies and ended up sick and humiliated.

The best thing to receive in the mail, was a letter. It was simple, it was fairly private and usually safe from prying eyes, though not always. Our TI had this little game he liked to play where he would sit in the front of the room and after calling your name, he’d try and spin the letter across the floor and under the door that separated our Day Room from the group beside us’ Day Room. If he was successful, he thought it was hilarious (and quite frankly so did we as long it wasn’t OUR letter being launched). If the letter didn’t make it, you got to pick up your letter and immediately read it.

Besides the letter, there is our good friend the Photo Mailer. Yes, the very one that says, “Photos-Do Not Bend,” to which our TI always replied, “Oh, but they do…” as he proceeded to bend and crease them to his heart’s desire. Once mangled, the poor slob who got them in the mail was forced to open the mailer and show everyone the pictures that he was sent of Mom, his girlfriend, whomever; and of course this opened the lucky receiver up to all sorts of derision.

So that’s today’s memory brought on by a quick trip to my kitchen where I have a stack of photo mailers sitting on the counter. I’ll get them out at some point, but right now I’m kinda enjoying just looking at the envelopes and remembering the bad ol’ days.


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