Molly Hoffman is a 21-year-old mechanic in the U.S. Navy, currently stationed at the Al Udeid air base in Qatar. The Middle Eastern country is bordered by Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. Molly, who hails from Washington state, tells Crushable about life on the base.
It is 100 degrees outside and I am 8,000 miles from home. How did I get here you might ask? Well, it all started 2 1/2 years ago. One single piece of paper and I signed my life away to the United States Navy. I joined the Navy to get away from home and pay for college, and I never thought I’d be this far away. Here on the base, I shower in trailers and live in a 10×10 foot room equipped with bunk beds and a roommate; I suppose I had high standards before, but now I’m used to it after six months. There are 10,000 personnel stationed at Al Udeid and, being an air base, most everyone’s job revolves around fixing aircraft, but the people I really love are the those that deliver the food and mail.
Previously I was stationed at a naval air base on Whidbey Island off the Washington coast. Talk about two completely opposite environments: I’ve gone from feeling like a duck to a camel. Whidbey rains on a daily basis and Qatar is arid Arabian desert. This is the driest environment I have ever lived in and my body knows it: never has my skin been so dry and my hair such a giant frizz ball. I could be the new spokesperson for mousse, as much as I use the stuff. (I am currently perspiring everywhere, and have major boob-cleavage sweat.) But my ankles are the strongest they have ever been; there’s not much cement on the ground out here, mostly just rocks and dirt. I am a huge clutz and trip multiple times daily, but that which does not kill you makes you stronger (or at the very least, strengthens your ankles).
The days are very long o but I’m grateful because staying busy makes the time pass so much faster. I am at work or in commute for 14 hours a day. I am now an Aviation Electrician’s Mate, which means I fix all the electrical components on the P-3 surveillance aircraft. My days consist of plane washes, exhaust fumes, and grease. I am an expert of torque wrenches and the difference between flatheads and phillips. I am always carrying a tool box or ladder or both, so my arms are becoming pretty toned. Being so clutzy doesn’t help with my line of work, removing lots of parts in lots of tiny space, and I have a new scratch or bruise daily. By the time I get home I usually check my Facebook — can’t live without it — and go to sleep prepared to start the cycle over again. Sometimes déjà vu happens — but then I trip on a new rock and realize it is in fact a different day.
Like most workaday people, I’m around my coworkers all day long. We live and work together and there is no time away. I go a little crazy, especially working with so many boys; but then again, having two brothers really prepared me for this. Still, the guys test my patience: they literally eat a bag of chips and leave said empty bag on the table and, if it falls on the ground, they feel no need to pick it up. They also have no concern whatsoever about bodily functions. I can be in the middle of a conversation and they will burp and just keep on talking, talk about gross! Having two sisters also helped me survive having a roommate, and I‘ve been pretty lucky thus far. There isn’t much downtime but, if I manage to find an extra hour, the pool is the place to be. Oh yes, there’s a pool on the base. Which is awesome because I’m trying to even out the farmer tan I’m sporting.
I know, I know so much to be jealous about! Despite the culture shock, I am enjoying myself and totally excited that I’ve finally visited another country — and that I’m serving my country. Doing what I can to keep everyone at home safe is truly what makes me so grateful and extremely lucky to be in the United States Navy.