Let me tell you about the time I almost died. It's a neat story, so get comfortable and put your “listen to neat stories” cap on. Is it on? Excellent, then shut the fuck up and listen.
Iraq sucks by any standard. It's hot, it's full of smelly people who'd gladly end their life to cripple you, and worst of all it's 7 time zones away from a Wa-Wa. For some fucked up reason that I'll never be able to wrap my mind around, I wanted badly to journey through Iraq for a year while wearing an Army uniform. I applied my incredible brainpower (don't be fooled, I have incredible brainpower) to the problem, and decided that the best way to serve in Iraq in an Army unit would be to, unfortunately, join the Army. So, I did.
After I joined, I went through a lot of training to get me ready for the desert. We learned a lot about IED's, or improvised explosive devices. They are homemade bombs that Iraqis use to kill Americans, due to the fact that we've fucked up all their tanks and legitimate weapons. We learned that IED's can be ANYTHING, or ANYBODY! They can strike ANYWHERE, at ANY TIME! It's difficult to train yourself to be vigilant towards anything, anybody, all the time, everywhere. But we got it done. Special attention was paid to SVBIED's, when translated from Army into English it means a Suicide VehicleBorne Improvised Explosive Device. They were especially deadly, because a car could be loaded down with literally a ton of explosives, and then drive it straight into the first American vehicle they see. And trust me, they see our vehicles. Can you seriously expect them to NOT notice tan hummers with a gunner sticking out? Ray Charles can spot Americans in Iraq, and he's dead. And blind. Neither of which would lead you believe he was very observant. But I bet if you dug up his grave and sat him at a road and said “Ok Ray, find the American convoy!” He'd probably bust out signing “I found them!” once a platoon rolled past intent to get to FOB Kalsu's PX and attempts at women. And if Ray Charles can spot us, the lazy, untalented, profoundly stupid people who'd pilot these things had at least a 25% chance of noticing us as we cruise past.
Anyway, we were taught that the anything, anywhere, any time, anybody rule applied to SVBIED's too. But they tended to give themselves away by doing a suicidal mad dash to get to a US convoy and cover the last bit of ground before our gunners could turn them inside out with a concentrated hail of 7.62 goodness. We were shown a plethora of captured videos of SVBIED's killing soldiers like myself. I'm going to shelf the sarcasm for just a second to say that the whole point of this training was to scare you into vigilance. It worked, to this day I am so scared shitless of the damn things that I sometimes check under my bed before sleeping to make sure there isn't a '75 Opel hidden under my bed with mismatched panels and 468 pounds of fertilizer bomb in the trunk. To date I haven't found an SVBIED under my bed, or anywhere. This is a good thing.
But one day, I damn thought we had found one. And this is where my story begins.
I was on QRF, which means that I had to run missions. Generally these missions were stupid, and an insult to my prodigious intelligence. Today was no exception. We had to proceed from our hot, stinky base, to another nearby hot, stinky base. The reason we were sojourning was to pick up several detainees and take them to a courthouse so they can go to jail for being stupid Iraqis. We had loaded up our 3 prisoners and took off to the courthouse. I'm going to skip ahead for a second and just tell you that one of him peed on our seat. It's not pertinent to the story at all, but I just want you to know that shit was gross. We didn't even clean it either, us scouts are nasty motherfuckers like that. Anyway, back to my damn story.
We were barely 20 minutes out of the gate from hot, stinky base number 2. I was driving, as is to be expected given my low rank. Riding shotgun was a Sergeant from my section, who was scanning the roads and reminding our prisoners to keep their heads down and not piss their pants. (Fat lot of good that did!) In the gunner's spot was a Specialist from Alpha section. He was small, and therefore angry, and also quite Mexican. Him being Mexican has absolutely nothing to do with the story, but like Ali-Al-Pissonmyself, it's a neat little detail. I'm Irish. And German. And English. And Italian. Goddamnit I'm easily distracted. Fuck, ok bear with me.
Anyway, I'm driving along. The road is about as paved as an Iraqi road can get, roughly the quality of an industrial road in the abandoned section of an American town. My MRAP (it's a truck, I'm not going on a tangent to explain an MRAP) can handle the road fine though. I'm cruising about 30 miles per hour, and there is a long curve ahead. Now, this curve was in no way obstructed, anybody capable of panning their head and/or turning their eyes to see something not directly in front of them would notice the traffic moving along the route.
However, the driver of a silver piece-of-crapmobile apparently could not pan his head nor use perhipheral vision. He failed to notice the American trucks cruising down the road, and continued on at his ridiculous speed. Given the nature of the road, our curve and his curve converged, and we were racing at each other. I didn't have to say anything about it, my Sergeant and the gunner both noticed immediately. He even screamed “STOP!” as loud as he could. It was pretty loud, all 3 of us were wearing an intercom device so we could chat away, and it made my ear drums hurt. He then cocked back the 240b machine gun he had in the turret, and prepared to feed the dumbass Iraqi shit a lead salad.
Almost as if in response, for a brief second I noticed the dumb fuck was actually accelerating. All the training, all of the videos flashed into my head. I thought for sure this was it. My life didn't flash before my eyes or anything, that would just be a damn cliché, but I came pretty close to joining the “I pissed myself club” with Pee-pee McGhee back there. I thought to myself “this is it, this is FINALLY happening!” I braced for a loud explosion, I scrambled for a witty sarcastic last line, and I prepared myself to get royally fucked up. All of this happened in less then a second.
Then, just like he flipped a switch, the Iraqi douchebag driving the silver piece-of-crapmobile jammed his brakes. I saw smoke appear by his tires, and heard screeching rubber. I let out a deep, relieved breath. No dying was scheduled for old Lydon today. False alarm, go back to work everybody. I took a second to compose myself and weakly laugh. I patted my crotch and was relieved to find it slick only with dripping sweat, and continued driving. After all, we still had the Whiz Kid into court. He fucking peed on my seat... Asshole.