I am deeply indebted to the USAF for the many
useful life skills I developed whilst serving. Learning to shine
floors with a big commercial power buffer has proven invaluable
for the last 28 years, as too has knowing how to properly clean
tables and floors at the officer’s mess hall (I was enlisted –
the engineering degree came later). Pulling barracks guard duty
would have been the perfect introduction to a career as a
shopping mall security guard, had my life taken me in that
direction after separation. OK, I’m just jiving about them being
One of the most valuable lessons I learned –
truly - is what I have dubbed “Kirt’s Coffee Drinkability Rule.”
Here is how it works, and how it came to be.
knows that military coffee is some of the worst in the world.
The people who are responsible for the stuff know that you will
drink almost anything they give you just to get yourself through
the day. In the enlisted member chow halls, coffee usually was
dispensed from large cafeteria-style stainless steel vats. I do
not think they are ever cleaned or even have the old coffee
flushed out between brewings. No bacteria could survive that
environment, so why bother? The milk for the coffee was
delivered in the same manner.
Anyway, the daily routine
involved standing in line for runny eggs and burnt bacon, then
shifting along to the drink dispensers. That is where Kirt’s
Rule was developed – quite simple, really.
other enlisted grunts, I learned to drink the provided coffee
under most circumstances, but it had to pass one crucial
criterion. When I placed the cup-o-java under the milk dispenser
vat and lifted the lever to send the stream of milk shooting
down into the coffee, if it disappeared into the bottom of the
cup and never showed any sign of actually mixing with the
coffee, the line had been crossed. I figured if the coffee was
so dense that even the force of the milk would not budge it,
then it was truly unfit for human consumption.
became clear that no one, not even the most desperate airman,
could drink it, there was only one option left for its proper
dispositioning. You guessed it – ship it to the Marine Corps
base across town.
- Kirt Blattenberger
Progenitor & Webmaster