Friday, February 11, 2011

The General’s Driver - (Korea) Day 73

The long days this week are catching up with everyone. While waiting for a
meeting to end, SPC Roy crashed and was able to take a quick nap.

Work call this morning was at 0345, so early yet again. These early mornings and long days are really getting to me and everyone else. One of the first things we did this morning was get our weapons from the armory. I got to see what the weapons card is for, you turn it in and they give you your weapon. We then got the vans ready and headed off to Tango with two vans and about 7 people from our office. Even though I passed my Korean drivers test, I don’t actually have my license yet because of the computer issues yesterday. I don’t even know how to get anywhere yet, so I just rode shotgun. This position is called TC and is “in charge” of the vehicle. The TC also has to make sure the driver doesn’t get lost. Very ironic that I’m the TC, because I’m lost as soon as I leave post, but I needed to be up front so I could see the landmarks so I can drive it soon. I wonder if now is a good time to let my office know that I sometimes have driver’s anxiety issues. I would love a GPS on the window, but since we’re in Korea I think it would still be hard to understand. “Turn left on Wang Chung Avenue” would be heard when I can’t read any Korean signs. Luckily all the major road signs have English translations as well, they are just a bit smaller and harder to read.

When we got there we had to setup for a meeting. There was a little miscommunication though. We were supposed to pick up the general in our vans from the helicopter pad, but when we headed out of the bunker to get him we could hear the helicopter already taking off. Oh Crap!!!! Oh NO!!!! This is bad…really bad!!!! We drove down there and didn't see anyone, so we waited. SPC Roy got a call from a major in our office asking where we were and we told him we were staged to pick up the general. The major said he's already in the bunker. We found out later that his own drivers were staged there early and picked him up. WTF the communication here sucks!

We then headed back and finished setting up for the meeting. Our major who was in charge of the seating chart kept making changes on the fly to try and please everyone there. There are a number of generals, colonels, and such that he's all trying to make happy. Someone wants to sit next to someone else. It was a mess! We were moving stuff all over the place and when it was all said and done the actual seats looked nothing like the seating chart. People were all confused about where they were sitting…what a mess!

The whole Tango command bunker is very surreal. I feel like I’m walking on a movie set for a spy film or something. At some points the hallways have just the stone on the sides and then it has the look and feel of a Disney ride or something like that where you are in a fake tunnel. It’s hard to explain I guess. It’s just strange to be underground in this bunker with security forces at every corner.

After the meeting started we headed out to K-16 which is another post fairly close to Tango. We picked up a weapons rack so we could place our weapons in it while inside the Tango bunker. We also had a quick breakfast and I had a grande mocha. I needed the "pick-me-up" and it tasted so good.

Now when we got back we were told we would be taking the general from Tango to the helicopter pad. We backed the vans down and got all ready to go, then were told it would be another half hour before he was coming out. The life of a general as far as transportation goes must seem so simple. He walks out there are cars waiting for him, gets on a helicopter and skips all the traffic. I wonder if he has any idea how much planning and stuff goes on to make everything perfect for him? There was a lot of confusion about where he was going to sit in the van. Which side he was going to enter, where I was going to stand and salute. So many people would tell me different things, it was nuts. The funny thing is that in the end I was told by our major to go on the other side of the van and close the door for the general's assistant. There ended up being nobody there to salute him, I wonder if he's going to be upset about that? We did finally pick him up and take him down to the helicopter pad, that was pretty cool seeing the helicopters take off though. After that we headed back and cleaned up everything from the meeting and cleaned up our office. We were back at Yongsan by 11:30 or so.

After lunch we setup for another meeting and waited for it to finish to clean up and head out for the day. We left at 1630 which even though not very early, it was much earlier than most of the other days this week. This entire week has been exhausting. I headed back to my room and video chatted with my wife. I then tried to do some school work, but had to take a nap for a couple hours because I just couldn't focus. After that I finished my school work and watched a couple of shows before going to sleep again. Looking forward to sleeping in late!

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