Hurry Up And Wait

How many of you are familiar with this military term?  I grew up hearing it often in my home.  Dad would mention that term often in his own Army stories. 

So what exactly does it mean?  Well, it is to do something quickly then wait around for what you need to do next.  Dad would often tell us funny stories of a soldier’s life. He often told of the long lines: the long lines to wait in to get a shower, the long lines waiting for chow, and he would often joke about having to wait in line to sneeze.

Growing up in the Army, I found the saying is also true for us dependants.  For instance, I often remember standing in line with mom at the commissary, the PX (today it is called AAFES), and even the dispensary.  And it seems I was always in a line when I attended a DOD (Department of Defense) School in Mannheim Germany. Hurry up and get in line for lunch, to go outside for recess or for the reading room (my favorite place), but once in line we would then wait.  I was never quite sure what we were waiting for because we all got in an orderly line and now we were waiting to set off.  And as we waited, we were like any 6 yr olds and we would get fidgety.  Let’s face it, we were not good little soldiers at attention!

But as dad retired and we lived a civilian life, I put that old saying behind me and adjusted to civilian life.  Unknown to me, this would become a part of my life both as an Army wife and now a PA Army National Guard Mom or if we speak in military terms I am a PAANG Mom!

One of the many stories of hurry up and wait was when our son left for his second deployment, this time to Afghanistan; his unit had to report to Fort Indiantown Gap to board buses to take them to Ft Bragg, NC for their training.  We got him there just shy of 6 am after leaving home to travel the 107 miles to the Gap as we call it.  It was freezing rain and sleet all the way.  And Tom, my husband had a short cut. Let’s just say whenever I hear the word short cut I become very uneasy.  This short cut was no different, because of the bad weather and the need to travel through the part of PA that is our coal region, which is mountainous and, although beautiful in the summer and fall,  it is very treacherous driving in the winter. 

But we made it and he reported in as we went to where the families were gathered.  And then we waited until he returned to say our good-bye and then we thought we would waive the buses off, so we waited again.  Then they got off the buses.  By now it is dawn and the sun is coming up and so we stand with him next to the buses and we wait some more.  They finally re-boarded and drove off. By now we have stood for over 2 hrs, most of it in the freezing cold. But I can honestly say it was worth every frozen second and I would do it again. 

The lesson here is this; when seeing your son or daughter off, take a folding chair with you because you will hurry up and get them to their destination only to end up waiting until they move out.  This also works for basic training graduations and any military ceremony. Another lesson was at Ft Bragg, NC the day of their farewell ceremony when they ran out of seats and, would you believe it was raining, cold, and dreary.

I hate to say this but our son will be leaving for training during the same time of year when he leaves for his third deployment, so this time I think we will get a hotel room and bring chairs, hot cocoa and warm blankets.  It will be a guarantee that we will have a very warm winter and that they will leave for their training right on schedule!


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