Your Mom’s a Clamshell

Where I work.

Today we were assigned to move various items from the old office building and put them into a storage unit. I never saw the storage unit. We would just move things onto the loading dock and soldiers with a flatbed truck would spirit them away to something called a “Clamshell”. I don’t know what this is. I picture the black storage cases you put on the roof of your car, but that’s ridiculous, because we were moving truckload after truckload of crap. For all I cared, they could have been dumping the stuff into the river.

The Clamshell?

There is a vast unfinished basement to the building and that is what we concentrated on. We were told to move a 10 foot long grey metal shelf. I tried various tactics to not have to upend this hideous thing and move it through a narrow, twisting staircase. First, I cited that we were not supposed to move furniture (that stays with the building). This argument was rejected. For some reason furniture in a basement doesn’t count as furniture. Then I told people that the shelf weighed 1200 pounds and was bolted to the wall. This worked temporarily. Then people investigated and determined that the shelf wasn’t bolted to anything and that although quite heavy, it did not weigh 1200 pounds, causing much scoffing amongst my peers. “1200 pounds! I thought you were the world deadlift champion or something!” SGT Maher said. I appealed to reason. “Surely they don’t want us to move this? It probably came down in the cargo elevator years ago (the elevator has been out of order for at least the last 4 years) and there’s no way to get it up the stairs.”

“The first sergeant says Move Everything.” SPC Kenney said. Then I suggested carrying it down a side hallway and dumping it in somebody else’s turf. I made this persuasive argument right while we were next to a perfect place to do this, but my coworkers were too responsible. So we mustered the thing up the stairs. Actually Kenney and Maher did. I was sort of on the side, so there wasn’t room for me in the narrow stairwell. I did run ahead and hold the door for them.

All of this stuff is being saved for later.

This was so stupid. I made a Coach-stradamus prediction. In 2010, when the unit returns from Afghanistan, everybody will have a week or two off and then get back to work. The new first sergeant will then receive word from Battalion that everything has to be removed from the Clamshell. He’ll tell everyone that no-one can go home until everything is out. Then the men will drag the 1200 pound metal shelf that no-one wants back into the building. “Where will we put this piece of crap?” they will say. “Just stick it in the basement.” Wash, rinse, repeat until the end of time. The shelf will be dragged into the basement when a unit returns, then dragged back into storage when they leave.

Important stuff we need.

We also moved a rancid wrestling mat that looked like someone had bitten pieces off of it. Why did we save this? No-one knew. I wore gloves when I touched it. You couldn’t pay me enough to lay on it. I did an imitation of a first sergeant looking at his property book. “Hmm, 5/8 of a wrestling mat, moldy, with bitemarks. Nobody goes home until we find it!”

Finally we moved a crappy 300 lb wooden platform (for all of those times when you urgently need to stand 8 inches off the ground) I pictured some soldier building this to practice woodworking. He deployed to Vietnam and didn’t know what to do with it so he threw it into the basement. Years later, nobody knows what it is, so we move it back and forth between storage units because no-one has the balls to throw it away. This gave me an idea.

I don’t work, but I look expensive. Put me in the Clamshell.

I’m going to weld two truck axles together and make a long and unwieldy x-frame shape that won’t fit through a doorway. I will hammer a box of wood around the center of the X with nails sticking out everywhere. I’ll fill the box with sand and rocks to make it weigh 1200 pounds. To make it look more valuable, I’ll have some circuit boards and wires sticking out through a hole. Then I’ll tape some laminated forms with cryptic gibberish on it, and label the whole thing with ominous warnings like “X-73 Training Simulator” and “Property of SGM Smithers” “94th Chemical Company” etc. And when I leave the Army, I’ll leave this piece of crap in the basement of the building. Years later, I’ll return to visit with my grandkids and show them my legacy. My mediocre service record will be long gone, my deeds in war forgotten. My unit will have been disbanded. But the X-73 Training Simulator will still be sitting in the basement. Unless it’s in a Clamshell somewhere

The X-73 Training Simulator

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