Fort Hood Hassle

Trip Start Jan 01, 2010
Trip End May 14, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Thursday, January 14, 2010

This morning, we had a school in Killeen, TX. We were fortunate to be staying in a hotel just two minutes down the road. The assembly went well--nothing much to mention, and it was over pretty quickly. We were out of there a little after 10:00. We didn't need to be at our next school until 12:45. So, we enjoyed a relaxed brunch at Denny's (yeah, we've been eating at a lot of Denny's lately--I don't know why--they're just nice here), and then hung out in Starbucks for the rest of our free time.
All over town though--at lunch, driving around, on the streets, in the cafe--there were a lot of members of the military just going about their business wearing their fatigues. We thought it was a little unusual.

That is, until we realized that we were near Fort Hood. Of course, that makes sense... an army base.

And we were headed to that base this afternoon for school.

Now, if we had been diligent in reading our call-ahead (a paper provided by the office containing some basic information about that specific assembly as given by the school, as well as any other important information), we would have realized that we needed to register at the military checkpoint before entering the army base. We would have realized that we needed to obtain a pass at the visitor's center about a mile back down the road, and provide photo ID and proof of insurance. Either that, or drive through a military X-ray to examine the contents of our sketchy-looking vehicle.

But, alas, we failed to read that information ahead of time. (Sorry, Andrew, if you're reading this--don't worry, the story ends well)

So, we drive up to the checkpoint, and I play ignorant (which was easy to do at the time, because I truly was). "Hello... so... what do you need from me?"

The officer was friendly enough, and I presented my license. Kelsey accidently left hers in Memphis with her brother when we were there, but she fortunately still had her old license.
But without a visitor's pass, we couldn't enter. At this point, we cannot spare any time getting to the school. We're just three minutes away, but we're an eternity away as long as we are still at this checkpoint. They had me turn the van around and speak to someone else on the other side of the booth. I explained our situation, and she peeked in to look at our very full van. She said that we could forego the visitor pass if we drive up to that white canopy-looking building and do an X-ray.

Oh boy. That could take a while.

But we had no choice. We drove up and around to the instructed building where there was another officer. I showed him our identification and explained what the other set of officers instructed us to do. "Alright, move ahead to that man in the orange vest."


We said to the man in the orange vest, "We were told we need an X-ray?"
"Where are you headed?"
"Audie Murphy Middle School."
"Do you need directions?"
"No, we're all set."
"Well if you don't need directions, you're fine. Just drive on through. Keep to the right."
"Oh! Well.. thank you!"

And we continued on our merry way, with nothing but our licenses.

In reflection, I think there was some Jedi mind trick or something going on that allowed us to get through the checkpoint with as little hassle as there was.

In any event, we thanked God for the ease of passage in that situation. We arrived at the school on time.

And it was fun. We had a crew of about four middle school guys helping us set up, and they were good. One kid, let's call him Tom, was particularly talkative (which was nice, for a change--not annoyingly talkative--but it's hard to get a decent conversation out of middle schoolers, no matter the time of day). He told us that he is living with his older brother, who is in the army. They moved here from Kentucky a week ago, and next month, they are moving to Germany.
Yikes. And we thought we had a transient life.

Kelsey and I hypothesized that the majority of kids in that school are in a similar situation.
We judge that mostly from their response to our video.

You see, 100% of the Texan student assemblies up to this point have been, in comparison to the East Coast, nearly silent. Now sure, that's a good thing--respectful and quiet. But we're so used to kids screaming in support of their favorite singer when thei name flashes on the opening credits. We're used to kids laughing and "OOooah!"ing when skateboarders get racked on a rail. We're used to kids singing along to the hip-hop songs throughout the video. Texan kids, of course, are of an entirely different culture than those in the East Coast.

But in Fort Hood, there are kids from all over. They aren't the rural, white farmer boys and girls like in Lenorah or Eldorado. So it was refreshing to hear for the first time the shouts and laughter and overall vocal enjoyment of the video.

So, all things considered, we enjoyed our experience in Fort Hood. If we ever return, we'll know to get there ahead of time.

We're off on a long weekend now, though. MLK, Jr. day provides a five-day weekend. So we're headed up to a Ramada in Fort Worth. Hope it's Worth it.
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