09 April 2010

Employees Must Wash Their Hands

The Army Combat Uniform (A.C.U.) offers a couple of make-your-own-fashion quirks, particularly in the placement and utility of pockets. There are the usual pockets, of course: Breast pockets on the ACU blouse, front- and back-pockets on the trousers.

There are more alien pockets, however. Strange pockets that are potentially useful, if only soldiers could figure out just how to use them, or what to put in them.

Take the upper-shoulder pockets, upon which the unit and combat-service patches are placed. The typical soldier in my unit carries his/her cell phone or Blackberry one of these pockets. That position apparently gives the most cloth-on-skin contact, so devices set to vibrating "silenced" modes can still be felt. Me? I put my personal smart phone in my right cargo pocket. I can't feel it when it starts vibrating, but I'm also not important enough to get a lot of calls.

The most common complaints about the ACU cargo pockets are that the "hook and loop fastener"--the Velcro--wears out too quickly, and that the draw-cords intended to help cinch the pockets closed don't exactly do the trick. Word is that the new U.S. units heading-to-Afghanistan-only MultiCam uniforms will actually feature button-closure cargo pockets.

There are smaller pockets on each calf, too, barely big enough for a pack of smokes or a cell phone. I've never had reason to use a calf pocket until recently, when I figured it might be a good place for my hand-sanitizer gel. (Or, as my 5-year-old daughter Lena calls it: "handi-tizer.")

When an H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic seemed imminent last year, Midwestern stores started stocking hand-sanitizer in jug-sizes. Even the Iowa National Guard started placing pump bottles of the stuff near the entries to some offices. I remember observing a natural disaster exercise in one of our state operations centers last summer, and suddenly coming to the conclusion that the night-shift soldiers had been drinking. It smelled like a Russian vodka freighter in there. Avast!

It took me a couple of minutes to realize that it was actually the smell of alcohol-based hand-sanitzer.

A couple of Red Bull soldiers who have already been to Afghanistan say that hand-sanitizer is one of the best ways to combat germs. There's a lot of hand-shaking and cheek-kissing to this counterinsurgency fight, as well as eating exotic and unidentified foods. (Potential Red Bull T-shirt: "Winning hearts and minds is a dirty business, so be sure to wash your hands.") I've even heard that one social technique is to pass the stuff around to Afghans and U.S. personnel alike, as a show of hospitality and sharing.

Of course, if you're new to using one of those ACU pockets, it's easy to forget when you're patting-down your pockets prior to conducting personal laundry operations. I found that out this week, when I did a couple of larger loads. All my uniforms and T-shirts and socks came out smelling kind of, well ... like they had a bit more "kick" to them than usual.

Let's just say that I now prefer my laundry shaken, not stirred.

1 comment:

  1. That's cool, getting drunk off your uniform. I might try that one.


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