Wednesday, April 7, 2010


The military, and the Army particularly, is known for using acronyms, which are sometimes used without the knowledge of the abbreviated words. For example, our living quarters here are called ‘RLBs’, but I cannot find anyone who knows what RLB stands for. A Google search came up with a company named RLB that does construction and it seems logical they would produce temporary housing, so at this point, I am working under the assumption the RLBs are named after the company that makes them.

Or maybe it stands for “really long box.” Because that is what RLBs basically are; about nine feet tall, about nine feet wide, and about 20 feet long. Me, at six foot, can ‘palm’ the ceiling and almost touch wall to wall with my arms outspread.

The RLBs have white metal interior walls, which have the feel, look, and color of a kitchen appliance - like a white fridge. The ceiling and floor are metal as well with the floor having a glued on wall (floor) paper – mine has an abstract appearance that might be trying to look like marble.

There is one door on an end of the RLB that opens out – thank goodness, as if it were to open in the swing-pattern would take up valuable real estate, with a window directly to the left (if you are entering). Directly to the left of the window, tucked into the wall and ceiling join, is a small AC/heating unit that works like champ to cool the air and, based on my initial fumblings while trying t o figure out the Celsius-based system, also works quite well to heat the air – probably will not need that function too often. There are two single florescent bulbs running down the middle of the cell and electrical (US voltage) outlets on each wall.

An individual RLB is called a ‘cell’. They are stacked two high, two deep, and 10+ (or however many) long – not unlike a motel with the units facing you having doors visible and the second row of units in the rear being the mirror opposite. A collection of cells is called a ‘block’, designated as Alpha, Bravo, etc., with one side/row being the ‘A’ side and the other ‘B’. For example, I live in cell 214 on the Bravo side of A Block.

In each side of a block, two cells on the bottom corner are where the latrines and showers are located. One cell has six stalls and two stand-ups (can’t speak for the female latrine) with two sinks equipped with two spigots each. The adjoining cell has six shower heads and two sinks - the mirrors must be from a defunct funhouse as your image fluctuates from fathead to pinhead; makes shaving kinda interesting. Remember, the cells are only 9 feet wide so if you are at a sink, you have to scootch-in a bit if someone needs to pass.

Having to walk 20-odd feet and then go down a flight of stairs whenever I need to use the restroom is a bit of a pain. I mean, when you are in your 40’s, waking up in the middle of the night needing to pee is pretty common. After stumbling down the aisle and down the stairs into the fiercely lit latrine, it can be difficult to go back to sleep even when you are exhausted.

So, remember the concern about my eco-kharma taking devastating damage from all the plastic water bottles that get tossed since we can’t use the local water for drinking? I found one great way to reuse liter bottles (RLB) – just need to remember to keep it separate from the fresh ones.

1 comment:

  1. As an FYI: RLB = Relocatable Building; and they say that NCO's know everything. ;)