An army base is another world compared to civilian areas.
Kind of like Hogwarts versus muggle villages, minus the wands.
I’ve been living on base (in a hotel for a week, and then our house) for a while now, and I’ve learned a few unexpected things about army life.
10 Things You’d Never Expect About Living on an Army Base
1) You wake up (and head to dinner…and go for walks) listening to cadences.
What’s a cadence? It’s a little army song/chant soldiers shout while in formation. You know, that “I don’t know what I’ve been told!” While Husband went through basic training and OCS, he learned that there are a TON of cadences. And a lot of them are seriously hilarious. One of them features “Jodi,” which is a code name for a man who steals your wife/girlfriend while you’re away in the army. Yeah. Anyway, when you live on base (at least in a hotel), you wake up to soldiers chanting while they walk/run. It’s really cool!
2) Helicopters fly over your head a lot.
3) It’s really easy to get lost.
The thing about army bases is that they are homogenous. AKA everything looks the same wherever you go. Streets look the same. Trees look the same. And all the buildings are made of brick. Not to mention your phone GPS probably can’t find half the buildings on a base (assumedly for security reasons), so you end up calling Husband and having him guide you to your destination.
4) Speaking of army base appearances, army bases are quaint and adorable.
The streets are well paved and lined with sidewalks and trees. Everything is well kept, too, and I have yet to spot one piece of litter. Those soldiers, they know how to maintain order. Oh, and another great thing about living on base is that there’s an aura of safety around you wherever you walk. Love it!
5) You can’t take pictures of certain things.
My first day here, I was yelled at by a scary-looking soldier at the gate. “MA’AM!!! MA’AM!!! NO PICTURES AT THE GATE!!! MA’AM!! MA’AM!!!” He screamed as he barreled toward Husband’s truck. I chucked my phone into my lap and turned my cherry-red faced towards his and shouted back, “SORRY!!!” SO EMBARRASSING. Apparently, on the bottom of the “rules” sign at the gate, the last line reads “No photos at the gate.” Won’t make that mistake twice!
6) You can’t hold your phone to your ear while driving (nor can you text, for that matter).
Signs abound around base that read: “Hands-free devices only.” I like this rule. Speakerphone only. We should carry it over into the civilian world.
7) There are a lot of secret rules for soldiers in uniform.
Did you know? Soldiers can’t salute in doors. They also have to remove their hats when they come inside and replace them when they go outside. Now, pay attention to all the shows you watch featuring soldiers and notice how many soldiers HAVE THEIR HATS ON AND SALUTE INDOORS on TV. You’d think someone in the film industry would double-check this. Also, soldiers are allowed six steps in/out the door before their hat has to be on/off. They also have to stop and salute the flag if the horn is sounding (see next point), but only if they’re in uniform and are outside (if inside, they stand at attention while it plays).
8) They play a horn at certain times of the day.
This is called “Reveille and Retreat,” and the horn is played while they raise and lower the flag at the start/end of the workday (and other times). It’s actually quite lovely. I haven’t nailed the times it plays, yet (apparently the times vary from base to base), but the horn plays loudly enough so that everyone in a 3-mile radius can hear it. I heard it at 10pm the other day and it was really cool. Did you know? If you’re driving on base when the horn starts playing, you must pull over and wait for it to finish before continuing on your way.
9) Your grocery store is called the “commissary.”
And when you check out, the baggers (there are always two) bag and transfer your items to a separate half-cart that is used exclusively for wheeling your groceries to your car. It’s similar to a mini grocery cart, but with thicker bars and more loops for bag handles. Oh, and the baggers will wheel your stuff OUT to your car and load it into your trunk for you unless you insist upon wheeling it yourself. Just one of the many southern courtesies I’ve noticed.
10) Gas (and other things) are cheaper.
Gas (as far as I’ve noticed) is always 5-10 cents cheaper on base than it is off base. And some items are cheaper in the Exchange stores (which are like Walmart for army bases), such as Clinique face wash. It’s like those duty-free shops you see in airports, only…army-er.
These are just a FEW of the things I’ve noticed about living on base.
I haven’t even encountered the social side of things, which I am SURE will give me oodles of writing material.
You know…army wives.
I’ve read lots of interesting things about female hierarchies in the army.
Also, I haven’t made any friends yet, which usually would make me very happy. But since I am a lone ranger down here with no family or pets, I am increasingly interested in female companionship.
Speaking of pets (which I’ve been talking about a lot lately), I’ve decided which dog breed I’d want IF I decide to venture into the world of canine ownership:
I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right, this IS the cutest dog breed in the world.
And yes, I was googling puppies at 6:45AM. This is what my world is coming to down here.
On a hopeful note, Husband is taking me to some get-togethers this weekend, so cross your fingers that I find a friend. And also an ugly sweater.
See you soon!