Page 33! Now, before it is said that I am making fun of deaf people generally, I’d like to offer an explanation, going beyond the mere fact that this actually happened. This guy that I met had been born deaf in a little village in rural Iraq, probably sometime in the 1950s, and of course had never learned any verbal language but, more importantly, he had apparently never learned any formal system of sign language either. Apparently that would require a large deaf community and formal instructional institutions and that sort of thing, which obviously was just not available to him at any time in his life. It goes without saying that he was illiterate, so the only way that he could communicate was through this sort of vulgate sign language that he had worked out with a few of the locals, including the Muktar’s son, who seemed to know him well. This was very limited in what it could express. Without any kind of complete system of language, this guy’s understanding of the world around him was dramatically different from that of everyone else. It seemed to me, even at the time, that he lived in his own peaceful little world, out there in the pomegranate grove, that was totally detached from the almost-nightly shelling, occasional small arms fire and an IED, that we had had to deal with with as we tried to build this road through his town from nowhere to nowhere else, and indeed from the decades of chaos that his country had experienced in his lifetime. Every other adult in his village had to triangulate between the insurgents, the Americans building the road, the local power structure &c. and he was just totally above it all, or so it seemed.
Now, of course, the whole area’s been overrun by ISIS. Real glad we got that road done on time.
So, that’s sort of the point of this story, over and above the fact that this day just went from bad to annoying to completely bizarre in the space of about two hours, which is supposed to be the amusing part. I may put some kind of statement at the end of the story that goes into it, or just have one of the Soldiers ask another one if he thinks the plumber can hear the mortar shells