marines and packing

::Mrs. Paper commented on the packing end of things and I started to type this as a reply but it got too long so here it is in post form::

Growing up my family and close friends, the ones who inform the baseline experience and expectation (be it high or low) for most things and my father is probably the best car or trailer packing person I know.  Dads are supposed to be awesome at things though right?  If only he had been good at packing I probably would have a normal expectation about how well someone can pack a car but…

We had quite a few friends who were former military and they were also very very good at packing things.  One friend, in particular, packed a trailer so well that while it was within the weight of pull for his truck, he had exceeded the tongue weight and it crashed in dramatic fashion within a quarter mile of his house going over a railroad track.  This is double memorable because we were leaving so early because he won the fight with my mom who prefers to drive after the traffic and in the end post repair we actually got to the event at the same time as if my moms leaving time won.  Anyway, for my entire early life of going camping and various events between my father and people with military experience, there was tons of very fine packing.

The expectation was continued when I hung out with many military people in my teen years and met plenty of people proud of the fact they could pack a backpack with all they needed for a year in the desert.  As an adult, my husband’s surrogate father was a marine (just retired this month actually) and he also had the best way to pack an amazing amount of things into a small space.  It makes sense, the military is full of small spaces like Navy ships where a sailor has about 2 feet to live and my soldier friends that lived from packs in the jungle or bush for real for ages.

To balance this out, I met plenty of people that were really bad at packing but they were just nonmilitary, not my dad people so it was reinforcing my assumption.  One day my assumptions were shattered by an event I’ll never forget…

It was a January event in MN (so very very cold) and I was pregnant with Niamh (about 5m) and I had packed our car carefully because for this event where I was doing a display of a ton of art pieces that belong to our historical group that nobody ever sees because they are too fragile/impractical to bring out often.  I was in charge of the inventory so I took it all out for the show and it went really well, but, by the end of the day I was tired and it was cold out there so a nice guy in the group offered to help pack my car.  He was a dad, he was a Marine!  This should be fine, I expected he would do as well as I, maybe better…  30min later I go out to find…

Absolute mayhem.  I can’t think of a better word but what was in the car was a Fragile and CYLINDRICAL thing on the bottom and several large heavy rectangles semi balanced on it.  I also saw 75% of what should have been in the car in the parking lot around the car and the guy with a very confused look who told me it just would not all fit.  I’m sure any witness decided I was being a picky, pregnant hormone fueled person but I pulled every thing out and told him to “go away!”  It was negative degrees out and my coat didn’t fit well so I also didn’t do the best job either and the 2 things I could not fit just went home with a friend who got it to me later but yes, it can all fit.  The worst part was my rock solid expectation that people in the military were great at packing things…

I’ve re adjusted my perception of who can pack and I feel that people that pack well are attracted to the military, but, it’s a big army/navy/airforce/marine/etc and they have to let in some sub par people just like any other industry.

As I pack each year I always remember the trailer tongue snapping experience and try and keep a balance of packing so well that you break the container.  I think of dad as I carefully pack betweens and on tops.  I am showing my kids how to pack and they are getting ok at it and at the very least they know that round things do not go under flat things…


I could bore you all for ages with all the contingencies of how to pack, like, you need to consider what you will need during the trip like snacks and spare clothing for when there is puke or the overnight bag for stopping at a hotel half way.  Things on the bottom need to be strong, don’t forget the small spaces created by big things…  Be sure that if you pack high in the car if you stop short you won’t avalanche on everyone.  I won’t say more because it’s time for me to finish up and I’m lucky if anyone even did.  See why this was too long for a comment?


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