It’s always a lot of fun reading a good action-adventure thriller or watching a movie or TV show. We know it’s all a fantasy and that the protagonist will escape unscathed, but it’s a lot of excitement and adventure. But those adventures we read or watch doesn’t doesn’t quite reflect reality…
Using the bathroom
A basic thing everyone would need to do, but conveniently not discussed. The army used outdoor latrines in the field, and the women always hated them. At best, it was a stinky enclosed space where you wished the gas mask would work on it. At worst, you went behind a bush and hoped you didn’t get the local flavor of poisonous plants like poison ivy or poison oak in embarrassing places.
The men have it lucky here because the adventuring clothes are made for their convenience. They can park at the side of the road, unbutton, and go. Women? Well, to use an army latrine, the women had to take off their rifle and put that aside. Then they had to remove the gas mask, which fits around the waist (how it was supposed to be worn), or could be worn kind of like purse. Then off comes the equipment belt, which has ammunition pouches — loaded with six heavy magazines; two full quart canteens; and suspenders.
I hope you didn’t need to go urgently. Heard from one female soldier: “I’ll have peed in my pants by the time I get all this off.”
Food’s another thing that kind of gets glossed over. Usually we see our intrepid adventurers sitting around a campfire, food already made. Somehow, they’ve got a pot for stew and some energy bars that are supposed to sustain the adventurers during their adventuring. An energy bar has about 200 calories. That’s not going to last a long time.
Cooking outside is also harder than it looks, especially trying to make it taste decent. When I was in Desert Storm, our battalion had two active duty units and two National Guard units. Because the National Guard met once a month, they didn’t have hardly experience cooking out in the field. Since they were on one shift, our meals went from pretty decent to gut-wrenching bad. It seems pretty hard for someone to make hot dogs taste bad, and yet they managed.
Sleeping outside always seems to shown as just another place to sleep, or largely ignored. When I was in the Girl Scouts, I hated camping out. The ground was always hard and uneven, and that sleeping bag didn’t help much against how cold it was outside. In Desert Storm, we had the added problem of scorpions crawling into our boots overnight. Then there’s that pesky problem of having to use the latrine in the middle of the night. I’ve just gotten this sleeping bag all nice and warm, and it’s cold out there. The desert temperature might drop forty degrees overnight. Who wins? Warm sleeping bag or bladder?
What else can you think of?