Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Laundry day at COP Dand wa Patan requires a little, shall we say, ingenuity.
The outpost has three washing machines, which is fine considering how often (or not) these guys wash their clothes. But two of the machines have seen better days.
With both front loaders, you put in the clothes and push the door as tightly shut as you can. Then you grab a nearby cardboard box and snug it up against the base of the machine.
Then you grab a six-pack of full, one-liter water bottles and perch them at a 45-degree angle against the door to keep the wash water from leaking out.
Finally, you go next door into the Afghan Border Police shower building, fill a bucket with water and pour it into the little hole on top where the detergent goes.
“It’s the only way you can get enough water to clean the clothes,” explained Sgt. Nike Whitmore of Oakland, who was kind enough to brief me on the elaborate procedure.
It’s a good thing he did. My socks were about to go AWOL.
By the way, Spc. Whitmore’s first name is not a typo.
Twenty five years ago, when his mother was sitting with friends trying to come up with a unique name for her yet-to-be-born son, she looked down and saw everyone was wearing Nike sneakers.
“So she said, ‘That’s it! We’ll call him Nike!’” said Whitmore, who works in his civilian life as a foreman in Maine for Tebrient, a Holland-based irrigation systems company.
Back when he was a student at Messalonskee High School in Oakland, Whitmore actually sent a letter to Nike to introduce himself and see what kind of reception his given name might receive. Back in the mail came a box full of freebies and a long-term discount at a local sporting goods store.
Maybe his mom should have named him “Rolex.”
Columnist Bill Nemitz is reporting from the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Nemitz left Memorial Day weekend to join the 152 Maine men who make up Maine Army National Guard’s Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry. Bravo Company is part of the 94,000 soldiers currently in Afghanistan.