Before now poetry has taken notice
Of wars, and what are wars but politics
Transformed from chronic to acute and bloody?
from "Build Soil"
Robert Frost

Monday, December 10, 2007

Frustration

I've been home now for 2 1/2 months. I've spent a lot of that time traveling and visiting friends and family. I think I'm doing pretty well readjusting to living here- it doesn't bother me anymore when I drive at night, and I don't swerve away from objects on or near the road (though I do tend to follow them with my eyes). Crowds and people never bothered me after my return, and sudden noises only did so occasionally.

Iraq did change my driving habits, though- I've always been a bit more of an aggressive driver than most, and I'm worse now and more vocal about it. I think living in Idaho makes it particularly bad- drivers here are some of the worst I've seen, and I don't react to them particularly well.

For a week or so now, I've been noting all the stupid things I see while driving. The truck that made a right turn from the left turn lane during a red light was notable, as was the truck that tried to turn left during a red light, got caught in the intersection and still tried to creep through the stream of oncoming traffic. I noticed the van that turned from a cross street into the turning lane, because the driver got impatient with the car in front of him that was actually trying to turn and pulled into oncoming traffic to pass.

The worst incident for me occurred while I was traveling towards Oregon, heading for my parents house. I was the second car in a stack of five or six when I noticed a small white car parked by the side of the freeway. Suddenly, he pulled out into the right lane, and nearly caused a pileup.

The last time something like that happened, I was gunning on a trip from Falluja to Ramadi. We were passing by a "named area of interest"- a hot spot known for multiple sniper, grenade, IED and VBIED attacks. When the little white car suddenly edged into my truck, he was too close to bring the machine gun to bear.

I was tightening my finger on the trigger of my M4 and wondering idly to myself if I was too close to fire a 40mm high explosive grenade into him with being hit by the fragmentation when the driver looked up. I saw in his eyes the terrorized realization of the dumbass move he had just pulled, and how close it had brought him to death.

I remember that Iraqi driver every time I see stupid maneuvers occurring on the roads at home, and I wonder if the American driver sporting the yellow "Support Our Troops" ribbon understands that his driving would literally risk his life at my hands in another country.

I know he doesn't understand, and so I am angry once again about the blissful ignorance of my countrymen.

21 comments:

  1. As for your last line: Rightly so.

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  2. stay on the lookout, dude

    those drivers could get you killed!

    and watch out for the deer too (they are jumpers)

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  3. TD; glad you're back, I've missed your posts. My husband has been home from Iraq for almost 3 years and still has the same responses to traffic you've described (although occasionally he'll still swerve when something near the road catches his eye). His vocalizations have stayed a bit more "interesting" as well. I don't see his heightened awareness as a "bad thing" though. Remember, it's always the one you don't see that gets ya. Stay aware and stay safe.

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  4. Hi,
    Are you back to the U.S. for good? or is it just temporary?
    What do you think of the forthcoming primaries in the democratic party?

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  5. Dude, I want udio recordings of you driving. That could make for some interesting fun...

    Though you'd stay quiet if you knew you were being taped...

    Oh TD's Sister! I have a job for youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu. :)

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  6. Hey TD. Good to see you posting again. I'm glad your frustration is mostly tied to stupid drivers like the rest of us. Thanks for doing such a great job in Al-Anbar TD.

    I'm sure that you know by now that Ramadi and Fallujah are safer than New York City according to one Marine officer speaking to Michael J Totten this month.

    You and your team and Badger 6 and the Fightin' 6th Marines have made it all possible.

    Congratulations.

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  7. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 12/11/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

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  8. Thanks for sharing! I am recently returned to the US from Venezuela, and although not coming from a combat zone, I still feel things here to be a little...strange,I like your term, "blissful ignorance"!

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  9. I was amazed at the crazy drivers in Italy. They had a total disregard for traffic signs. Often they would pull up on your bumper, honk their horns, flash their lights and wave their hands if you were not going fast enough to suit them. That kind of behavior might not get you killed, but in Texas, it would get you into a fist fight. Then those same Italian drivers might pull over and ask you if you needed directions - they weren’t angry - that is just how they drove.

    Be patient. It could be worse. You could be in Italy or New York City.

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  10. Do you feel better now? I miss your posts, too.

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  11. Hi TD. Very interesting as always. One could read this many ways (none "bad" of course). No matter how one does read it: It's not about driving at all.

    Keep in mind, if you care to, that some of us are aware that we are "blissfully ignorant" and seek out people like you (and others) in a small attempt to correct for that ignorance.

    Take care.

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  12. I had a comment in mind, then read the other commenters and realized Mike had said much of it it for me.

    But not only am I attempting to correct a little bit for that ignorance (I'll never really understand), I'm well aware that it's your "non-ignorance" that allows me the space to be "blissfully unaware" of so much. That is a tremendous gift you've given all of us civilians, one for which I will never be able to convey the depth of my gratitude.

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  13. hang tough...I am glad you will be "home" for the holidays....

    Bad driving still irritates DH...

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  14. ditto to what fbl said... absolutely ditto.

    (hugs)

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  15. If you want bad drivers and people with no clue come to MN. When you end up in the hoosegow for running one of the fools over I'll throw your bail and buy you a beer.
    Hang in there, dude.
    The whole idea of the Milblogs is for you guys who have been there and done that to tell the story to the rest of us. You, Capt Coulson, Matt, Greyhawk and many others have done and are doing a great job of it. The writing on the Milblogs is awesome. While we can't feel what it is to be in combat and the situations you have, many of us have laughed and cried along with you. You, with your ability to tell a story have the opportunity to change the blissfully ignorant.
    Put it in a book!

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  16. I do not get to millbloggies much, as I am busy driving a Kenworth box, and have my share of idiots that I see on the roadways too. First off, I wish to thank you for your service and God bless you.

    I and others thank you for your stories and keep them coming. There are so many people out here who are "blissfully ignorant" about the reasons we are fighting in Iraq, and they need to know.

    God Bless you and your service, and glad your home.

    -Robert-
    http://elwoodin.wordpress.com

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  17. caught a rhyme at the end of the last post. Are you back in the poetry business?
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thanks for your service and sacrifice that enables us to enjoy these holidays.

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  18. Hey, TD...what fbl said. I'll keep you in my prayers...I've missed your posts and have been wondering if you're okay. Hope you'll get to see your folks at Christmas.

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  19. I'm glad your home safely. I do thank you for the service you and your fellow Marines endured. I do feel much safer because of men like yourself.

    I am angry once again about the blissful ignorance of my countrymen as well. From those who pretend everything is fine and stick their heads in the sand farther and for the socialist who are trying to totally change our country and the crazies who blindly follow them.

    God Bless you and thank you for all you've done and continue to do.

    Merry Christmas,
    Twana Blevins

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  20. Merry Christmas my friend, this year will be more peaceful for you than last year was......

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