Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What more?

A US Air Force C-130 was scheduled to leave Thule Air Base, Greenland at midnight. During the pilot's preflight check, he discovers that the latrine holding tank is still full from the last flight. So a message is sent to the base and an airman who was off duty is called out to take care of it.

The young man finally gets to the air base and makes his way to the aircraft only to find that the latrine pump truck has been left outdoors and is frozen solid, so he must find another one in the hangar, which takes even more time. He returns to the aircraft and is less than enthusiastic about what he has to do. Nevertheless, he goes about the pumping job deliberately and carefully (and slowly) so as not to risk criticism later.

As he's leaving the plane, the pilot stops him and says, "Son, your attitude and performance has caused this flight to be late and I'm going to personally see to it that you are not just reprimanded but punished."

Shivering in the cold, his task finished, he takes a deep breath, stands up tall and says, "Sir , with all due respect, I'm not your son; I'm an Airman in the United States Air Force. I've been in Thule, Greenland, for 11 months without any leave, and reindeer's asses are beginning to look pretty good to me. I have one stripe; it's two-thirty in the morning, the temperature is 40 degrees below zero, and my job here is to pump shit out of an aircraft. Now, just exactly what form of punishment did you have in mind?"

* * *

Some people have asked "aren’t you afraid of what might happen if you go public with your criticisms?"

This story illustrates my attitude: there’s nothing that can be done to me that hasn’t been done already. On a regular basis, I’ve been confined to a space smaller than the hut assigned to McCain when he was a POW; spending weeks on end in bed too sick even to follow a TV show is no fun. Nor is throwing up everything you eat for months (or being limited to a single bland food because everything else comes up). I’ve been in constant pain and essentially under house arrest/solitary confinement for years. I’ve been verbally abused and wrongly accused by people who don’t understand the nature of my illness. I’ve been denied appropriate medical care and repeatedly denied the Disability benefits to which I’m legally entitled based on the severity of my symptoms. I’m already under a death sentence: some experts believe CFS patients die 20-25 years earlier than expected, and even if they’re wrong, CFS is a living death: musician Keith Jarrett has called it "Forever Dead Syndrome" because you spend so much time in bed feeling like death warmed over, too sick to do anything. (One of my male correspondents differentiates a "good day" as when he feels up to shaving and not just dragging himself out of bed.)

Just exactly what form of punishment can be worse than what I already endure on a daily basis?

No comments: