So I've been eating rancid food all week. I'll admit it's more than little strange that it took be about five days to figure it out, but if you listen to the story Dear Reader, you'll probably agree that I'm not entirely at fault.
We've been out in the field on a training mission. The basic deal is that you call the place a Forward Operating Base, a FOB, and you get some of the guys to play to Opposing Forced, the Op4, and you carry out little scenarios. It's hot, you get tired, but really, it isn't bad in any way.
Except the food. See I've been working the night shift. It's usually an eight hour deal, but I tend to work an extra two on either end. There's a lot to get done, and a lot of time stuff fails to happen when I'm not in the office. Well, working the night shift, I tend to just barely miss the food actually prepared by the cooks. Of course, I don't really work that had to hit the chow hall. Among the cooks, there is one or maybe, maybe two people who I would trust to be around food. The cooks tend to boil everything to the same soggy, slimy consistency. It's a really amazing thing when the only way you can tell the difference between Mac 'n Cheese, mashed potatoes, and chicken is the presence of bones, well, you know there's something wrong.
But for those of us lucky enough to avoid chow hall food, there is another option. It used to be MREs, the famous “Meals Ready to Eat,” but for various reasons, probably something to do with the cost, the MRE is no longer the Army's primary food for folks in training. Now we got these delightful things we lovingly call “Jimmy Deans.” They actually used to be made by Jimmy Dean, had potted meat, and were as terrible tasting as a mass produced food. They're no longer made by Jimmy Dean and they are ever so slightly better than they used to be, but uh, they're still not great.
Every single one has a bag TGI Fridays Bacon and Cheddar Potato Skin chips, a can of tuna, chicken or ham salad, a packet of cookies, a can of Vienna Sausages, and a can of Brisk Iced Tea. Every single one. And I've probably eaten a dozen of those this week. It's kind of gross in and of itself.
But these new fangled Jimmy Deans, it turns out that they need to be stored at temperatures lower that 80 degrees. Why? Because they rot otherwise. They putrefy. Well, my brilliant friends in the mess section, knowing this, decided that they best way to get the Jimmy Deans out to the soldiers of the unit would be to leave them out on a folding table in direct sunlight.
Something else I found out very recently: You should never eat a Jimmy Dean if the plastic package is distended or expanded. Why? Because that's a great sign that it is putrefying, swelling up just like a body dumped in a lake. I of course learned this on te last day of the train exercise.
My unit's Jimmy Deans, the ones left out in the sun all week, well Dear Reader, if you'd of tied a string around one you could have had yourself a balloon. They smelled like cleaning fluid when you tore into them. But, ha ha, if you were working the late shift, there was nothing else to eat, and we were assured they were fine.
I felt like shit all week. I was getting headaches, nausea, weird, weird feelings like I was outside of my own body... lot's of fun, when you're working in 110 degree weather. After the first day of that I actually went to one of the medics and asked what was going on. “Dehydration” he tells me. You need to drink more water. Now, I'd drank about five canteens and two camel-backs of water already that day, and was spending about 5% of my time running back forth to the urinal, but “Hey,” I says, “I'll go drink some more water.”
Because, hey, what else could it be?