What am I talking about?
The Deployment Jinx.
You can call it any name you want.
The Murphy’s Law of Military Life.
But as soon as you finish the goodbyes, and work on getting yourself into the pattern of “Deployment Mode” you are simply biding your time.
Something is going to happen.
Something will break, break down, fall apart, go wrong….or in some way you WILL face a totally unexpected challenge. They don’t put this in the “handbook,” but trust me, it’s true!
Don’t believe me? Let me take you on a trip in the Wayback machine.
Way back to 2003. It was our first post 9-11 deployment. No one knew what to expect, what would happen or how bad the war could possibly be. Communication back then was no where near what we have today when facing a deployment. There was almost no internet or phone calls, and maybe, just maybe a letter or two would go through…if the mail room wasn’t blown up.
Back then, my children were much younger. At the time, my youngest was Pre-K, and we had just come home from “school” one day, when I remembered that I needed to go to the post office to pick up a package. So I told my son to keep his shoes on. I had just let the dog out, and as soon as he was done, we would leave again. While I was in the back yard with the dog, my son decided he was going to get in the truck and wait for me. That was nothing new, he would routinely hop in the car or truck, put on his seat belt and wait for the rest of us. But this day was different. This time he thought he would “help” me get the truck ready to go. He knew that every time we got ready to go somewhere, there was a thing we would pull.
I was in the back yard with the dog, when I heard a blood-curdling scream, a crash and more screaming.
I came running around the side of the house to see the truck not where I had parked it.
As Jack climbed into the truck through the driver’s side door, he pulled the emergency brake. Because our driveway was a hill, the truck immediately began to roll, which scared him. So he tried to climb back out of the rolling truck. When he did, the truck rolled up against the house, closing the door on his lower leg. The truck came to rest against the house with the entire weight of the truck crushing his leg in the door.
I ran around the truck, not even thinking. All I knew was I had to get him out!
I ran to the bed of the truck and jumped into the bed. I threw open the sliding window, and dove through. I didn’t even know I could fit. Secondly, Jack had had the keys in his hand. Somehow as I dove through the window, my hand came to rest directly on the keys as they lay on the truck seat.
I slid into the seat next to Jack….and this is where my brain gets a little fuzzy.
You see, this truck is a stick-shift. So it takes 2 feet to drive. Somehow I was able to work the clutch, and gas, and somehow brace the door open, and back the truck away from the house, and hold onto him at the same time.
I still don’t know how I did it.
I also don’t know how I didn’t run over my dog as I did it.
I’m fairly certain there were some invisible helpers there that day.
I threw on the emergency brake and lowered Jack to the ground, threw the dog in the house, and scooped Jack up into the truck and flew down the road to the Emergency Room.
To sum it up:
Deployment #1: Broken Leg for 5 year old.
On to the next one. What could possibly happen during this deployment? Well, our next door neighbors moved out, and in their place, came an older couple with their unsocialized, inbred (literally) Huskies. At first I thought, “Oh good, they are older people, they’ll be nice, quiet neighbors.”
Um…nope! You see, before they had moved in, there was a lady people who lived there in the neighborhood would often see wandering around. Everyone knew she was trouble…and therefore to avoid her. Well guess what? Our new neighbors were her parents. And they weren’t there to help her out of the life…they were just as bad.
Over time, we started having problems with their dogs. One in particular was very aggressive, and would jump the fence into our yard and snarl at us. Politely asking them to keep their dogs up would result in the cops being called because the woman would go off on screaming, cursing, threatening tirades!
The final straw, was one night, we had had the windows open all day and the children were just going to bed. Jennifer was in her room, waiting for me to come tuck her in, when she heard two men standing in our driveway having a conversation about how they would get in our house!!! The men were friends of our neighbors.
Needless to say, that night, I was on patrol, and the next day began the process of getting on the housing list for military housing. Three weeks later I got the pleasure of overseeing and managing a move without the husband. Not something I wanted to ever do again.
Deployment #2: Psycho Neighbors Resulting in moving to a new house, alone, and husband coming home to a new place.
On to the next one. This deployment wasn’t terribly bad. We just had a couple minor incidents. The first thing that happened, was we were traveling to visit the grandparents and had a flat tire on the interstate…van slam packed full…and I had no idea where the spare even was! To make matters worse, it was on a blind curve, and a very dangerous location, where people had previously been hit by cars when stopped for flat tires.
I called a friend, and asked her to pray for me. I prayed…then reached for the glove box to find my van’s manual so I could figure it out (I had never changed a tire in my life)…and a work truck pulled up behind us. This incredibly kind man not only changed the tire for us, but then helped me find a place that could give me a replacement tire, since I only had a donut. This was a city that I wasn’t familiar with, so I don’t know how long it would have eventually taken me to find one. But when we got there, he walked in and talked to the workers to make sure they would help me in a timely manner. Answered Prayers!!!
A few months later, I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance in what was my first (and prayerfully ONLY) experience with kidney stones! That was torturous for me, and terrifying for my children.
Then while I was gone to church one weekend, someone got into our shed and stole our lawnmower, gas can, and my brand-new, heavy-duty Craftsman Garden Tiller!!! It had only been used once!
Deployment #3: Flat tire on the interstate, Kidney Stones and thief. My poor tiller!
On to the next one.
This is a tough one. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a very long time probably remember how I used to live in the country, and had chickens, a pet goat, a horse, rabbits and more.
Well, in April 2009 my husband deployed to Afghanistan. Two weeks later our air conditioner broke. When I e-mailed our landlord to have her fix it, she said, No.
You read that right! April in North Carolina, in the full sun, is HOT, and only going to get hotter…and she was refusing to fix it. Now the whole time we had lived in that house, we had kept meticulous records of all interactions with this landlord. We figured out the day that we moved in that she wasn’t trustworthy and were careful to protect ourselves, just in case.
I ended up calling the housing inspector, the housing inspector got JAG involved, and JAG got me out of my lease. So here I was with an entire farm, and I was going to have to move! Where on earth was I going to be able to find a place on such short notice, and in particular when I hadn’t budgeted for a move!?!?
Well…I ended up moving back into military housing. I had to find homes for my 19 chickens, my rabbits, a stable for the horse, a home for our dear, sweet pet goat Brownie. I had to rip out my beautiful garden. My corn was twice the size of the farmers’ corn!
We moved on post, and as a precaution, I took all of those meticulous records to JAG, so I could be prepared in case she tried to sue us for something like she had all the neighbors. When the JAG officer saw all of my records and photos I swear the man wanted to kiss me. When he saw some of the correspondence, he literally begged me to sue the landlord, and ask for a jury trial. At that point, I never, ever, ever wanted to see that awful woman’s face again as long as I lived. Had she come after me, I would have sued with both barrels, but I wasn’t going to go that route unless pushed.
The day we stood in the yard, and watched our pet goat, and the last of our chickens drive away, Jack stood with me and we both cried. We just stood there and cried. In 3 weeks’ time, we said goodbye to Daddy, were being forced to leave our home, and had to lose all of those “pets.”
So we moved on post and lost our security deposit for fictional damages. But again, I just wanted to never see her again, so I didn’t fight it. Last thing I heard, the landlord was being “black-listed” – meaning NO military member would ever be allowed to do business with her again.
Here we were moving again while my husband was deployed. I was beginning to think he has this all worked out so that he didn’t have to haul boxes up stairs. Hmmmm.
Then in the next few weeks…
My fancy vacuum broke.
My coffeemaker broke.
My carpet shampooer broke.
Then our dog died.
And finally our washing machine died. I stood in front of the washer and just shook my head. I couldn’t take any more! I had reached my limit. I know it sounds crazy, but I laid my hands on the washer and prayed. I closed the lid of the washer, and it worked!!! It works to this day.
Deployment #4: Evil Landlord from ****, Moved during a Deployment again, Chickens, Rabbits, Goat – gone!, Garden – gone, vacuum, coffeemaker, and carpet shampooer break…and our beloved Ladybird died.
Which brings us to our most recent deployment.
The week my husband left, our wonderful federal government couldn’t get its act together (as usual….budget garbage, and stalemates – the normal stuff) and the first paycheck I received was all jacked up, because we were only paid for the first 8 days of the month. Then got a second paycheck for the rest of it later on.
Then my bank card number was stolen, twice.
Then during a “routine maintenance inspection” my wedding ring set went missing from my dresser-top jewelry stand. Granted, they weren’t worth a great deal… I mean how much can a “Private E-nothing” afford? But I had had them since 1991!
Oh, and my refrigerator broke. Twice. The first time on the evening of Thanksgiving!
That sums up the last deployment.
Deployment #5: Government shutdown, Bank Account Fraud, Wedding Rings Stolen, double-broke fridges.
So you see? When I say if it could happen, it does…I mean it!
At this point, the chorus line of Kelly Clarkson’s song could be every military wife’s theme song:
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone
What doesn’t kill you makes you fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Doesn’t mean I’m over ’cause you’re gone
Don’t you think?
All of these challenges, and I am only 1 Army Wife.
I can only imagine the kinds of “Deployment Jinx” fiascoes may have befallen my fellow sisters-in-ranks out there!
But with all the things that have happened, I know I can handle just about anything. When things got hard, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and got it done. Us military wives? Yeah, we’re stronger than many give us credit for – and stronger than we often give ourselves credit for.
What about you? What “Deployment Jinx” fiascoes have you dealt with and come out all the stronger for it?