The first time I deployed as a young and naive airmen we had to fly from the States to Dhahran Saudi Arabia, then transfer planes to go to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Now when I was getting ready to deploy I got my supply issue, which included things like a A-3 Flyers Bag, flight suits, helmet bag...things like that.
I was only the 7th person in the Air Force to do what I was doing full time so I didn't think too much about what was issued to me.
So I packed up all my stuff and was so excited that I didn't get a lot of sleep.
I meet my trainer at the airport. Her name was Kotty. That wasn't really her name that was her nickname. You see we were such a small group it was like family back then and everyone got a nickname during their training rotation, so I had that to look forward to over the next couple of months.
So we get checked in, and get on our flight. A military charter flight isn't like flying commercial. They put a couple extra rows in each section, because they get paid by the seat (I think) regardless of if there is a person in them or not. So once we take off we're able to spread out, stretch out and get some sleep. In the floor, across the seats...pretty much wherever you can find a space you'll fit in.
We land in Dhahran with no problems, and that when I learn a thing or two about deploying. They offload the plane in Dhahran, and put all the bags out on pad so you can go out and claim your stuff. This is because a lot of the people are staying in Dhahran and the rest of us are going by C-130 to Riyadh.
We sit through our in brief in to the country and then we're released to go get our bags.
It was at this very moment that I realize that even though the bags we were issued were called A-3 Flyers Bags, everybody in the Air Force gets issued them. I hadn't marked my bags in any way so I could identify them when we had to claim them.
As I stood there dazed at the number of A-3 bags littering the pad I felt my heart sink. I spent a good 45 minutes wading through this sea of bags that all looked the same I started noticing little things. Like brightly colored tape or ribbon on the handles of some.
Man that's a great idea. Why didn't I do that?
After the 45 minute hunt of shame, I go back in and find Kotty. She's all happy to see me and asks if I'm ready to go.
No? Why not?
mumble mumble mumble.
I can't find my bags.
I can't find my bags.
Did you mark them or anything?
No. I thought that they would be easier to find.
I didn't mark them.
A smack to the back of the head comes at this time. This was not the first or would it be the last.
GAH! You're such a doorknob!
And from that day forward I had my nickname, and I've carried it proudly for these past couple of decades.
That's right, they call me Doorknob. And I'm happy with it.