Page 68

68

7 Nissan Page 68

Page 68 of my graphic novel — the 69th page including the later one that I drew at the beginning, which makes the whole thing 2/3 complete.

For those who would like some idea of what’s going on here, they’re putting 1″-minus graded crushed aggregate into the areas where the road has washed out, at which point they’ll grade it off and compact it.  Civil Engineers will realize that this isn’t a very complete solution, though it’s not too different from the “shovel-full of cold-patch asphalt stamped in with a boot” approach used by most small town road crews in the United States.  The next step would be rebar and concrete*, but in a country like Iraq the need for concrete dramatically exceeds the availability, and on a low-priority, short notice project like this one it wouldn’t be (and wasn’t) available.  We did place concrete on some road repair projects in higher traffic areas.

Later on in this scene, these two characters complain to no one in particular about the fact that they were sent out on short notice with the full expectation that they would only be able to do a half-assed job. The reader should know what they don’t: that the point of the mission wasn’t so much to fix the road as to enable someone who would never see it to plausibly tell the General (from pages 2-5) that the road had been fixed.  That’s sort of the larger point here, and why I wrote it into the story.

I’m only somewhat satisfied with my ability to convey the dust level here, which would in reality be extreme.  The photo below is from the mission that partially inspired this story, so you can hopefully get some sense of what this feels like on the ground.

Dust

*ACTUALLY, the next step would be de-watering the whole site, diverting and then digging up the blown-up combined sewer that flooded out the road in the first place, replacing it, then re-covering it and rebuilding the whole road from the subgrade on up with new gutters and drains.  Out of sheer nerdiness I once tried to do a real estimate for this one and it came to upwards of a million dollars.


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