by Jody Fuller
I’m writing this column from 38,000 feet in the air somewhere over the Atlantic. I’m sitting in coach, so I feel like a T-Rex trying to write this thing. It’s not the most pleasant of writing conditions, but the show must go on, as did our show when we all of a sudden found ourselves a man down.
The GIs of Comedy were booked to entertain troops at an undisclosed location in Jordan. We usually hit multiple countries and installations on our overseas tours, but this one was different. We had just one stop, so it was going to be a turn and burn.
I met P.J. and Walter, the other two guys on the tour, at the airport in Atlanta. Walter texted me to ask how far out I was. I don’t think he realized I only lived 90 minutes from the airport. I think I’d just rolled out of bed when I texted him back. P.J. and Walter had been traveling all day. They were tired before I even got started.
The itinerary had us traveling from Atlanta to Philadelphia to Paris to Amman. For me, that was around 24 hours of travel time. For P.J., it was around 36. Walter, well, Walter got stuck in Philadelphia due to a passport issue. It expires in February, but in order to enter Jordan, there must be at least six months remaining on the passport. We sure hated to lose him, but at the same time, we are glad the snafu happened in Philly rather than the other side of the world.
When we landed in Jordan, we had to pay the equivalent of $60.00 for a visa. Those guys at immigration control are always a little sketchy and are never in a hurry. The fastest he moved throughout our encounter involved his finger and his nose, but I’ll just stop right there.
Speaking of picking, it was too late in the evening for U.S. personnel to pick us up, so we had to take a taxi to our hotel. The taxi drivers were on us like seagulls on a clumsy kid with crackers.
If you’ve ever driven in that part of the world, then you know it is absolute chaos. If you have yet to experience the phenomenon, just think of the worst high-speed traffic you have ever seen and multiply it by infinity and you’ll be half way there. It’s not for the faint of heart, but the babies riding on the dashboards don’t seem to be fazed by it a bit.
We were picked up the next morning at 11:00 by our people. They took us out for lunch, and I have to be honest. The lamb patty covered in caramelized onions and caulk may have been the worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. Fortunately, I filled up on bread and hummus. They took good care of us.
The show itself went amazingly well. P.J. and I did this same base two years ago, so we knew it would be a good time. The venue is just too cool. Instead of doing 35 minutes apiece had we had Walter, each of us did almost an hour before coming back up together for story time. By all accounts, it was a great show.
There’s nothing more special than entertaining troops who are so far from home. It will never get old, and I will never take it for granted. I’m just a kid from Alabama who had a dream, but per the usual, I’m ready to get home. One day, maybe we’ll have all our troops home, too. Until then, we’ll keep on going over to see them.
Jody Fuller is from Opelika. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.