Friday, December 24, 2004

'Twas the Night Before...

So, it turned out to be an inside job in Mosul, that explains the accuracy and effectiveness. Sure enough, when we went to lunch there were guards at the doors and even a bomb-sniffing dog. He was cute. Things were a bit lax lately and sure enough, the terrorists found a new way. Good news is, now the method is known and will be much better guarded against.

Our Add-on Armor (AoA) shop has become more popular, as you can imagine. We had been putting on mostly upgraded windshields and doors, and a few turrets. Now we are doing a lot of box-kits for the rear bed where soldiers often ride and many more turrets, among other things. I even designed a sign for the shop so it has more than a number out front.

Our shop is popular for more reasons. Once again, kitty Ratchet is “in the news.” The strangest thing happens to these rifle-toting soldiers when they see the cat. They bend over, pick him up, scratch behind his ears, and….stay that way. They love it. They just hold the kitty. Sometimes Ratchet is obliging, sometimes he gets antsy if there isn’t food involved or would rather swat at their bootlaces. But there is some kind of hole filled by a soft, warm, fuzzy thing. I think it has a psychological effect almost as calming as getting your vehicle armored up! Whatever we can do to help the client!

We turned this bullet-ridden warehouse full of garbage into a slightly fixed-up warehouse with a few little tools to a shop that is the envy of the army. (They want it now) (But they can’t have it) (and they usually get what they want) I’ve even ordered tools from Sears and had them shipped here so we could be more productive. In back, damaged vehicles are parked for parts. And we have this break-room with heat, food, fridge, TV, and cots. Soldiers will sometimes sneak away and come rest in there. Paint is peeling off the walls and dust gets everywhere, but it’s almost as good as having an indoor bathroom, as far as luxury over here goes.

Well, perhaps I’ve taken a little pride in our fledgling shop, but I think we all do a better job when we feel better about what we have to offer. The guys have done a (literally) bang-up job of fixing the place up and I think our leader was a bit inspired and passed it on to us. We had no place and little work waiting for us when we got here and it looked like our group might be dispersed. But Nick bartered for this neglected warehouse and finagled some tools and held on with his fingernails. Now his vision is paying off--he built it, and they came! It really works! If you do quality, demand for it will increase. And then fate stepped in with the news frenzy about armor. Is there a connection….?

I’m blessed to be in Kirkuk with a good crew and it really is also one of the safest bases in Iraq. Now it is Christmas Eve here, and I will celebrate simply by…..pressing SEND.

Merry Christmas!

Ernie

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