It was 2007 and finally laptops were fast, compact and useful. Wireless, though not everywhere could be combined with a cellphone to be the “hotspot”. All of this meant that during the reserves I could actually get some work done as long as I was “stationary” and not moving all of the time. No longer would I have to tell my clients a month previous to the reserve duty that I wont be working and hope they understand (usually they do, but still…).
We had duty in the WestBank for the month. Across from our little base was a typical Palestenian village with the usual mosque with loudspeakers making sure we don’t sleep with its call to prayer 5 times a day (more on that later). Our missions for the most part had us patrolling around the village as well as some of us being stationed in several static pillboxes. It was those pillboxes where I planned on going.
The first part, however, for me was always the hardest, learning the maps with the arab village names. When we’re out on the border the names of the hills and areas all have Hebrew code names, those are easier to remember, but the arab villages I can barely pronounce let alone remember. So after the initial briefing with one of the officers and after everyone has left the briefing room I go and sit in front of the map and using the standard memory techniques of association I learn the names (pronunciation is something else however).
After a week of patrols, I tell the “guys in charge” (officers) that I would like to go to one of the Pillboxes, but first I need to go home and get my computer. The deal is easy, I take my “days of leave” now and the rest of the period I’m in a pillbox. This makes it easier on the “management as they have less juggling around of the soldiers, their leaves and missions and I get to get some work done.
Three days later I’m back on the base with laptop all ready to go. I get a ride with the commander to my new home: A tall gray pillbox, sort of like a submarine thats verticle.
So all is good, we have a limited area to watch, and there are only a few arab village names to remember (actually its better since we were using a computer system with coordinates that we send to pinpoint the area of an event. Anyway, I get my laptop out and get to work. My mobile phone is working as the hotspot, electricity is good and I set up a mini desk to work on. So except for taking my loaded weapon to the bathroom, which is outside, its almost like working at home.
While I’m not working on my projects, the two other guys get to use my laptop, emails, movies, surfing etc. At one point I get the call I’ve been waiting for, I ‘ve been chasing a new client for about three months and finally the marketing woman from the US will be in Israel and she will have time for me. We set up a meeting for the afternoon in a few days. I work out the timing with the solider who is in charge of “manpower.” We arrange for someone to come in a switch with me, while I take the 4 hours off (travel 1hr- meeting/parking/food 2hrs – travel back 1hr).
The afternoon before, I prepare for the meeting. I have a list of my projects that are relevant on the computer, a list of websites that will be good examples. I then climb the ladder and start my shift. The other guys get to play on the computer now. I finished at 6:00am, take a nap for a few hours, my replacement comes and I get a lift back to our base and to my car.
Within a few minutes I’m back one the main road heading toward Tel Aviv, uniform, weapon and laptop (and I’m a bit tired).
First some technical information: As the websites have gotten larger and larger with more information, which meant longer loading times, the newer browsers started to implement a cache system. The browser stores some of the information of a the site you visited so that the browser doesn’t have to upload the whole website every time you visit the site. This was relativly new in 2007.
I arrive at the office and enter the boardroom where I start to set up to present, which means open the browser up, make sure the websites are listed, etc. In the middle of this, I get a call from one of the officers about when I’ll be returning. It seems there was a little incident (nothing deadly, but time consuming) and they’ll be needing a few more people then what they have. This is in fact normal, so though it was distracting, it wasn’t anything unusual.
By the time I finish the call, the potential clients are now entering the room. There are 4 of us: 3 men in management, and the single AMERICAN woman from the marketing department. And if you can’t guess what happened now, you have little imagination.
Usually I run through my presentation before they arrive, but given my distraction before they entered and my lack of concentration from the week, I turned on the projector opened the browser, and guess what my buddies in our pillbox were looking at?
It wasn’t porn, but it was pretty close…..and I had no idea what to say. I looked over at the guys who had little smirks on the faces (sort of a “guys will be guys” kind of thing). A look over at the Marketing woman, and I knew this was not going to end well. I tend to believe that if she was Israeli the look on her face would not have been one of pure “shock.” Almost like the look she gave me when she notice my grungy uniform (not exactly the latest in fashion design). An Israeli woman no doubt would have remembered her own service, perhaps that of her husband or of her kids, but this was an American…
I actually have no idea what I said, no real recollection as I’m sure it was nonsense and my brain decided to erase it to save myself the embarrassing memory years later. I did continue with the presentation just because it would have been even worse to “pack it up and leave right there, and I’m sure the guys had a good chuckle after I left, but the woman, well, I decided that she had no “sense of humor.”
This time being in the reserves didn’t give me any credit….and no, I did not get the work and though it was over 10 years ago, its still pretty embarrassing and funny.
so it turns out there is a downside to having that laptop with me in the reserves.