Tuesday, December 4, 2012

120 Miles of Toilet Paper and a POD

An average square of toilet paper is something like four inches long. There are 176 squares, or sheets, in a roll (at least the ones I'm dealing with); twelve rolls to a pack, thirty packs to the pallet, and 10 pallets sitting in a semi-trailer where John and I (plus Convoy of Hope) unloaded them earlier today. That comes out to something like 2.5 million inches, which after being divided by 12 (inches to foot) and 5,280 (feet to mile) comes out to an eerily exact forty solid miles of toilet paper. Add in the fact that it was three-ply, and we have 120 miles, roughly the distance between Pittsburgh and Cleveland and the length of a mammoth traffic jam currently underway in Russia. I was standing in the back of the trailer with a twelve-pack of toilet paper (704 feet) flying into my general zip code every 2-5 seconds, having to field it, find a place for it and get ready for the next one in that time. Preternatural reflexes aside, that was a hell of a hardworking half an hour.

The results, which probably go back at least five meters. Note how the toilet paper essentially ate those boxes to the right.

That was the highlight of my day at the Island Park Point Of Distribution, alias POD, where I've worked three of the past five days. Canvassing seems to be winding down: at long last, my team has covered Freeport with STEP (Something Temporary Electric Power? 2/4 ain't bad--Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power) fliers, and the neighboring communities have mostly been papered with the things. With barely a week left in this deployment, CR mooks like myself are beginning to wonder what'll happen if and when we return to this joint, since door-to-door canvassing is generally what we do here. 

Beyond that, life is pretty normal aboard the U.S.T.S. Empire State. Jim-Bob and Shingirai are going on an all-lemon juice and cayenne pepper diet for a week just for the hell of it, various Amerelationships are blossoming and/or dying, the (overpriced) bar up the road is slowly growing sick of our continued presence (though not our money), the new toilet in our room smells exactly like the old toilet, signifying the presence of a dead muskrat (or the aquatic equivalent--say that ten times fast) rotting in the pipes, and I have wi-fi now! The Internet shall once again be mine! 

Like I said, normal life. That's most of why I haven't been writing much lately, and why most of it hasn't been about FEMA Corps business--there simply isn't much new to say. If the blog is supposed to be about chronicling my experiences, it gets repetitive; if it's supposed to be informative for friends, family, potential Corps Members, other peoples' families, etc. it's the same deal. At a certain point, the job is the job is the job. You get some crazy people canvassing, but you get crazy people essentially anywhere; that's not fodder for blogging any more than anything else, not to mention the privacy concerns. 

So that's my current state, I suppose. I feel like a lot of FEMA Corps is in a similar place. We've had a long deployment, seen a lot of things, had our share of happiness and frustration and now it's time to make the long drive back to Vicksburg, and then on 'till morning. It's time to start looking in earnest for next year's job, it's time to get writing in earnest for this year's book, it's time to start living in earnest for this year's experience, and you don't get that on wi-fi in a belowdecks ship's classroom. Time to close the computer and go see what wackiness is going on today.

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