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Booms And Bombs—not a Blast

[1]

Welcome to my world!

By JonesToTheGrindstone.com [2]

Living where loud explosions pepper my day is routine. In Warner Robins, Ga., [3] sonic booms are the norm. According to Dictionary.com, sonic booms are “explosive sounds caused by the shock wave preceding an aircraft traveling at or above the speed of sound.” Even after living here for a while, they still scare the crap out of me and make my dogs bark and scatter in confusion. Still, this base isn’t the loudest or weirdest I’ve lived around. It gets much scarier.

I lived on a “fighter base [4]” for two years. It hosted many fighter squadrons there. The jets flying in and out of the base created a lot of noise. While living there, my communication patterns changed. When talking with someone on the phone or outside, having extended, numerous pauses mid-conversation was normal. The loud swoop of a jet flying overhead made hearing each other impossible! Needless to say, using dramatic pauses as a story’s suspense-building tool didn’t work on that base.

Also, it wasn’t unusual for me to hear Islamic chants coming from the speakers for a few days out of the month. The first time I heard the chants; I was like, “What in God’s name…?” It was in God’s name, or Allah’s. At first I thought maybe it was a new, government-sponsored cultural awareness program.  Come to find out that the base had a training camp set up for troops who were about to deploy to the desert, like Iraq. The camp exposed the troops to what the daily routine is like in “The Sandbox”—a term of endearment.

Another fun experience on the fighter base was when the leadership would hold an “exercise” where warlike conditions were simulated. There was a confined area, a “tent city [5],” and many different scenes were played out—almost like a pick-a-script that is tossed at a theatrical troupe for extemporaneous practice. *Personally, I think it would be fun to play the enemy in this arena. Imagine running into your boss’s office, pulling off a successful coup, and announcing, “Sir, I killed you.” Not good in “real life,” but a bit of a giggle in a fake one.

However, while the military members were playing GI Joe; the outsiders were stuck listening to all sorts of threatening sounds, like blasts and gunfire. I had become numb to the symphony of cacophony. But it made for a funny situation when my mother, a city slicker, came to visit during one of these exercises. Because it had become commonplace to me, I had forgotten to forewarn my mother of the phony pandemonium to come.

The exercise runs all day and night, just like a battle scene would. It had been a particularly noisy night on the base, but I knew it was nothing to worry about. That night, hearing explosions was like counting sheep. But as soon as the sun came up, my mom burst out of the guest room and with big, anxious eyes exclaimed, “Karen, I think I heard bombs going off last night!”

Utterly deadpan I said, “Welcome to my world, Mom.”