Every office has one: The poor guy whose desk is the first one everyone passes as they walk though the door.

Inside Bravo Company’s headquarters at Combat Outpost Dand wa Patan, that unlucky piece of real estate is occupied by Spc. Aaron Smith of Bangor, the human resources officer.

“People will come in and say, ‘Did the mail come in yet?’” Smith said with a roll of the eyes. “And I say, ‘Well, did you see any helicopters come in today?’ It’s pretty simple.”

So he can get his work done (and keep his sanity), Smith has posted a list of “Crap Answers to Frequently Asked Crap Questions” on the back of his desktop computer.

A few examples:

“The more you ask, the longer it will take to get promoted.”

“Don’t bother losing sleep over what combat patches you are authorized to wear. The only one that should matter to you is the unit patch.”

•  “I don’t keep track of who comes in and out. I don’t know where the Road Runner is and I’m NOT Wile E. Coyote, so don’t ask me to track him down.”

And finally, “Google can answer about 90 percent of your common-sense questions.”

If not the uncommon-sense ones.

Lamented Smith, who back home works full-time for the Maine Army National Guard, “I wish I could put my desk in a place no one knew about.”

WHEN HE ISN’T painting pictures or working out in the gym or calling in mortar targets, Sgt. San Pao of Standish often finds himself comparing his two deployments to war zones with the Maine Army National Guard.
He has even compiled a long list of items, alongside two columns marked “Iraq 2004” and “Afghanistan 2010.”
A sampling:

Percent of beds vs. cots: Iraq – 100/0; Afghanistan – 1/99

Number of days to destroy boots: Iraq – 225; Afghanistan – 1 trip to the OP (observation post)

Number of showers in 45 days: Iraq – 45; Afghanistan – 14

Percent of rooms with Internet: Iraq – 100; Afghanistan – 0 (five ports total)

Outside (Urination) tubes: Iraq – 0; Afghanistan – 14

Easier mission: Iraq

Best mission: Afghanistan

IN ADDITION to providing a place for chow, Bravo Company’s mess hall serves numerous other functions:

Two tiny rooms in the back house visitors (including journalists) to Dand wa Patan.

The main eating area is used frequently for an array of daytime training classes, pre-convoy safety briefings and, with mind-numbing regularity, group video games in front of the big-screen TV monitor.

The only game in town: Call of Duty – Modern Warfare II.

Definitely not a Scrabble crowd.


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