CH 24: C.F.B. Trenton Again

Once again we noticed the drastic change in landscape across the provinces. Saskatchewan had flat wheat fields, Manitoba with many farms and small towns, and Ontario had lots of lakes and trees. The drive across Canada with two young kids was daunting there were lots of stops for food and the bathroom. We brought coloring books, cards, and a bag of toys and although Kyle and Amber played well together it got boring after a while so I played eye-spy, counting cars of a certain color, and rhyming games with them. Poor Amber felt sick and we had to give her Gravol making her groggy there always seems to be one of your kids that has car sickness. Dean drove the whole distance, he insisted on it. It was quite the treat to stay in hotels and eat in restaurants. The military paid for it all, $150 a night for hotels and $100 a day for food for four people they even paid twenty cents a kilometer for gas. Many of the military members ate at fast food places and had gas economy-sized cars so they made money off of the trip. I figured it all worked out in the wash because the extra money helped with the cost to disconnect and hook up of utilities, phone, heat etc.

Our new split-level 1,295 square foot home on Nicholas Street in Trenton, Ontario was like a mansion to us compared to the row townhouse in P.M.Q.’s we lived in at Moose Jaw. The home had three bedrooms, one bathroom, a fireplace, and a partially finished basement. We stayed in a hotel until the movers arrived two days later and as they unloaded they said that they could unpack things and take the boxes out of our way which surprised us but we agreed only to realize afterwards that they just piled everything in each room so we couldn’t move around. Where else did we expect them to put the stuff?

For the second time in my career I had to go around to all the supply sections to clear in but this time the buildings looked old and tired especially the female barracks and mess hall which needed major repair and a good coat of paint. Actually the majority of the buildings needed revitalization except for the new male barracks that they had built along the water in the early eighties but even it looked bleak or was it the cloudy cold day that had gotten to me? When I finally got to the Base Supply Headquarters I was shocked to hear that Quinte was the boss! He was my sister’s ex-boyfriend in cadets. Quinte did the regular welcome to supply and what was expected of me speech then he dropped the formal part and asked what I’ve been up to. I told him about getting married, having children, Dean being on the Snowbirds, and my career courses. He told me that Sven was a Warrant Officer in the navy married with two girls and showed me a newspaper clipping of the navy coming home on leave. Sven had lost a lot of hair but he was still good-looking and the two little bright blonde haired girls were so pretty.

When Quinte returned to his office I talked to the administration lady who told me where I would start work and I was not very happy, actually not happy at all; Petroleum Oil and Lubricants (POL) a grimy, male dominated shack at the end of the runway that consisted of 24 hr shift work. I had the terrible experience with a sergeant and the male drivers there my first time in Trenton and I had also done POL in Moose Jaw so I felt it was unfair to stick me back there. It should have been someone else’s turn but it was the only place a supply tech had to do shift work and to work outside in the bitterly cold winter so everyone avoided the department like the plague. Besides I was told that I was replacing the person in POL who was posted out and there were no vacant spots. I knew that they could have transferred someone, anyone from their department to POL and me into their position but that’s not how the military worked. They were the boss and when they said jump you asked how high. Military bosses tended not to like someone challenge their authority the managers tended to have an air of elitism. I had never worked in the civilian sector except the fast food joint for a while so I couldn’t compare military management to civilian bosses but in my mind I felt the military, Quinte to be precise was being unreasonable. When I asked to speak to him the secretary went in his office and closed the door. When she came out she had a smirk on her face and said that the Base Supply Officer was too busy and I would have to submit a formal written request using some stupid form. Quinte was always a little full of himself in cadets as the second in command and then top dog. He always seemed a little preachy and it was obvious that his holier than thou attitude had grown ten-fold. And to make things even worse she told me that I was assigned to BDF the Base Defense Force which was an on-call task force that did exercises. What were Dean and I suppose to do about babysitters when he worked shift, I worked shift, and I could get called out at all hours of the night for BDF when he was at work? It seemed that no-one cared so I did put an official form to be taken off of BDF and given any other day duty like the honor guards who attended all the ceremonial parades and funerals. It’s not like I was trying to get out of doing my part but I was flatly denied and within a week I was put on a BDF refresher course and had to sit in a classroom to watch bombings and the gory effects on the body caused by chemical weapons. Chemical weapons can include choking, blister, blood, or nerve agents. A whole host of effects can occur when people are exposed to a low or moderate amount doses, they may experience: eye pain, blurred vision, drooling and sweating, cough, chest tightness, rapid breathing, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and/or abdominal pain, increased urination, confusion, drowsiness, weakness, headache, slow or fast heartbeat, and low or high blood pressure. I was given a bunch of combat camouflage uniforms and kit.

Dean ended up working in Configurations along the hangar line as a sergeant he was a lower manager but he hit the ground running and began the social beer calls to keep playing politics much to my dismay. It was as if he couldn’t or wouldn’t stop he was always reaching for the next promotion and although I knew it was because of the money, I also thought it was because of the status. Through his workplace we made friends with his boss, wife and three kids. Our son Kyle and Nathan were the same age with Amber only a year younger but the girls were older so they didn’t have anything in common. Cory and Kathy were quite a bit older than Dean and I but age didn’t seem to matter so we went over for coffee many times.

Now that we were closer to Dean’s family in Montreal and my mother and brother in Ottawa we expected to visit more often. After a lengthy discussion with Dean we decided it was about time to retry a reconciliation with my mother that was just me at first and then Kyle and Amber if all went well. Dean had no interest what-so-ever in seeing her because of what she did years ago when they first met. I tried to reconnect with her many times before only to have it fall apart again because she’d always start trash talking about Dean again, try to get me to leave him, and ask for money. The visit was strained but went o.k. so I finally took Kyle and Amber one day to visit my mom she played in the park with them for half an hour and bought them ice cream and although she feigned fun-grandmother I could see that she tired quickly so after that I went alone to visit her. In regards to visiting Dean’s family it was nice but always a tiring whirlwind.

I hated POL with a vengeance always smelling of fuel, dirt under my finger nails no matter how many times I scrubbed them. At least this time around the male sergeant was professional and since I didn’t engage in conversation with the truck drivers at all and I avoided them like the plague I had no trouble with them. In fact they thought I was a snob but if that’s what it took to avoid being hit on, that’s what I had to do. But POL was a problem and although Dean didn’t have to do graveyards he still had to work nights until 8:00 p.m. which we did get a babysitter for but he also could be called in any time after that and although we avoided answering the phone we knew we couldn’t do it forever or he’d get in shit. So far I had two BDF exercises one early morning that lasted all day until after suppertime and the other was only a few hours mid-afternoon so far so good. In fact I kind of found it fun asking for I.D. at the Base Headquarters, hiding in the bushes in my warm camouflage uniform, and decontamination personnel in a set up in the basement.

In the winter 1992 I put in my military release for the last time. With both Dean and I working shift work we couldn’t get a babysitter at three in the morning and despite numerous efforts the supply major wouldn’t let me out of P.O.L. (petroleum, oils, lubricants). It actually really pissed me off because I had been in POL twice already so I felt this time someone else should take their turn screw Quinte. Well at least I had the satisfaction of knowing now that I quit he had no choice but to put someone else there. Financially things went from bad to worse but at least we knew the kids were safe. It was bitter-sweet for me. I was bitter about the male harassment and unbending militant regime that forced me out twice but I was nostalgic about the friends I made, places I traveled to, and I really did like working in the warehouse environment. After a total of twelve years including Air Reserves I would no longer be putting a uniform on and I felt loss.

Although I was no longer in the military Dean was so after just four years in Trenton we were posted again.