Have you ever spent an amount of money, large or small, on something that you might not ever use/need/see again but served such a large purpose in your life at the moment that it was worth it? For example, when your head is pounding and you are at your office and you have to go to the drugstore next door and buy a $5 bottle of Advil, even though you've got a 200-count bottle at home? But you need it, so you spend the money and you're grateful that you did?
Such a thing happened during my return trip from San Diego to Baghdad. On the long flight (10 hours to Leipzin, 5 hours to Kuwait) back I was the Flight Commander. A big title for just ensuring that Soldiers stay in their seats, get the required briefings, and get all their gear off of the plane in Kuwait. However, it's a responsibility I took seriously so...that meant no sleeping pills for me. I had planned to pop some once we were airborne but I did not because of my friend Justin.
You know...Justin Case.
Just in case someone gets sick. Just in case someone has a problem. Just in case the plane has to land somewhere other than Leipzig for mechanical or weather reasons. I didn't want to be in a position where I couldn't function properly so...again...no sleeping pills for me. Which means I didn't sleep all that well since the audio for the FOUR in-flight movies were on the plane's speaker system AND the flight crew just kept yapping right in front of me (I was in the front row). I think I slept all of about 45 minutes. By the time we landed in Germany for refueling and crew change, I was desperate for some sleep. After an hour we were told our flight was delayed for 4 hours! I tried to get some sleep...on the chairs, on the benches, on the floor. But I just couldn't get comfortable. My hands just don't make that good of a pillow. Finally, after an hour I went into the gift shop to buy a stuffed animal to use as a pillow. Of course, the gift shop there has the usual Hostage Prices...the ones we'll pay because we really want a $4 Coke or a $25 stuffed animal to take home as a present. I searched and found a stuffed elephant for a mere $13. Best $13 I ever spent because the second I put my head on that elephant's round belly I was out like a light and slept for over 2 hours until they called our flight.
I'll never have a use for that stuffed elephant...I'll probably give it to the group who hosts the weekly Scouting adventures, but for those 2 hours it was the best stuffed elephant in the world!
And it's nice to be back in Iraq. Seriously...I missed my unit and the people here whom I consider to be my friends.