As the inspired readers of my musings know, life in a desert encampment is full of both American soldiers and local folks who help keep us clean, fed and in good working order. In addition to recently experiencing their wonderful driving skills, I have had the pleasure of taking advantage of the laundry services offered to and necessary for soldiers squatting on top of a dirt pile.

Now fearless readers, I have done my own laundry since I was old enough to read the difference between snuggle and woolite. Never before have I surrendered my delicates to strange hands. Even after having gotten married, the closest I have come to delegating washboard duties is to allow my husband to wash the bits and pieces I would leave in his laundry basket after the weekend.

But now I was required to turn all of my soiled sundries over to a LN (a local national worker, for those of you not paying attention to my last column). To add stress to the whole situation, the Army stresses accountability, of people and assets. Laundry, apparently, is no exception.

Here is how the process works. You approach the laundry counter with your Army green bag of dirty laundry. Much like a bank, the counter is set up with a ledge and dividers large enough for someone to step up to and dump a bag of laundry. You get a long ticket with a list of every conceivable piece of clothing a soldier may possess. You then step up to the counter with your ticket and by yourself, count out and mark down exactly what pieces of clothing you are turning in. For example, 10 socks (dark) 4 socks (white) 5 brown t-shirts, and so on and so forth. Then the fun begins. Once you have completed filling out your ticket, a LN, (male of course, as women do not often work outside the home in our sandy place) will step up to the counter, take the ticket and verify the amounts of clothing you are turning in. This requires you to again count out in front of the LN worker, 10 socks (dark), 4 socks (white) etc. All of this is fine, until you come to my, err, undergarments. Yes, in front of the strange LN, you must count out; panties, 4, bras, 4 and he must verify that you indeed are giving him 4 panties. Having been an employee of and a huge fan of Victoria Secrets, I blushed with modesty at having to hold up for inspection my bright pink and green striped Vickys drawers.

I escaped with out incident. My paralegal was not so lucky, although I do blame her for part of it. SGT K approached the counter and dumped her laundry. It was her bright forest green and red Christmas panties with a picture of Rudolph on the ass and the saying “Merry Christmas” that attracted the attention of ALL half dozen LNs working in the laundry at the moment. An excited Arabic chatter arose, and laughter ensued as her panties were held up for inspection and admiration. We are taking bets as to whether the panties actually make it back from the laundry facility and into her return bag.

Having suffered through the trauma of turn-in, I was not sure what I would get upon pick up. Having been warned that LN laundry comes back clean, but smelling, well, local, I was dubious as to what I would receive. To my utter shock and amazement, I received a bag of clean, semi-folded laundry that tickled my olfactory nerves with a lovely flower-like, almost perfumey scent. Chalk another one up for American contracting!

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