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Old 14th Oct 2006, 13:27
  #1241 (permalink)  
chuks
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Germany
Age: 72
Posts: 1,561
I sense a disturbance in the Force...

I like your metaphor for achieving balance, NEO, but there's a little more to it than that.

So you balance your two buckets, when life is good, so long as the quality of the beer is acceptable. Sometimes, even, our masters get it wrong and overfill the bucket full of money, when life is taken to be really great.

Meanwhile, though, one is never quite sure of the Specific Gravity of sh*t, so that anyone with even a speck of wit thinks that there just might be something wrong with the picture.

What about all those new guys who show up and disappear after just one or two tours, or the old hands who somehow manage to get reassigned someplace completely different? Do they know something you don't?

Then you get the bad surprises, such as someone's chopper being hi-jacked in a way that seems to show insiders working with the bad guys. Who's a bad guy and who's a good guy? Some of us remember Viet Nam, where they all wore black pajamas. Who can you really trust? If that's cynicism, well, it is also common sense to ask that question.

Too, you may get a personal bad surprise such as being robbed or shot at, when you really begin to wonder what the SG is for that bucket in your left hand.

It seems to be getting heavier and heavier while the one full of money hasn't changed or even seems to be getting a bit lighter since now you have to pay for ticket upgrades or you find that inflation is beginning to bite, perhaps your kids need even more expensive toys such as cars or your wife runs off with your accountant. Sh*t happens.

Taste comes into it in a big way; lots of guys happen to like messed up situations, and they don't come much more messed up than the Niger Delta at the moment. There's some weird impulse to stick it out rather than to cut and run, and Management know just how to push that button.

I remember one evening when I went along on a trip to buy some 'naira' over at the Aero Bar in Port Harcourt. My chauffeur was a madman of the Hungarian persuasion so that my nerves were already taut like banjo strings but when we got there it was clear that there had just been big trouble of some sort, with tipped-over furniture, broken glass, puddles of... what?, and various uniformed indigenes standing around shouting at each other as is their wont, emphasising various points in the dialogue by waving their guns and clubs.

That was enough for me, so that I just wanted us to conclude our business and get out. But there in the middle of the mess was this figure propping up the bar, smoking a fag, drinking a cold one and looking very pleased to find himself at the epicentre of a small sh*t-storm, one he had even helped to reach its full potential.

No naming names but the guy looked a lot like you, in fact! I really appreciated the offer of a beer but I would much rather have been tucked up in bed with an Ovaltine right then. So, 'horses for courses,' perhaps?
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