The big news for JBB this past week was the opening of the new Dining Facility #2. DFAC #2 is right next to the H-6 housing area where I live, so I go there every morning for breakfast. The old #2 was a comfortable, homey place, with very good food and a nice covered outdoor patio where many could eat outside. I liked it because it had grilled chicken that could be used to make a super sandwich for lunch. The old #2 would be quite crowded at lunch and dinner, however, as it was a much smaller facility. My final memory of the old DFAC #2 is that while I was eating lunch, there was an incoming fire alert, and everyone in the building had to get down on the ground. Of course, nothing happened, and we all got up after a few minutes. This is the only time I’ve seen people do this during a meal during my entire 9 months here at JBB.
The NEW DFAC #2 opened next to the old one. The old one is now closed, and sitting empty. The new #2 is about 250 yards further away from my housing area, and so it’s a bit further of a walk to get there. It opened for the midnight meal on the night of July 31-Aug. 1. I never go to the midnight meal here on JBB (Most night workers do). But for this great event, I made an exception and stayed out very late to see the grand opening and be in the first group of people to eat at the new DFAC #2!!
There was a line of people waiting in the night for the grand opening:
New DFAC #2 is one of the largest buildings on JBB. They finished construction before I even arrived, about 9 months ago, but because of endless technical problems, they did not open it until July 31, 2009. Even now it is somewhat limited in its use.
Anyway, here are my pictures from the inside of the new DFAC #2. There are many new cooks:
A nice salad bar:
The TV’s are much nicer than the old DFAC #2, and placed on a dozen spots along the walls:
And of course the dessert bar to make sure you gain a lot of weight:
It’s hard to get a real feel for this from these photos, but DFAC #2 conveys a great sense of wasted space. It is a facility that is much bigger than it needs to be, and there are lots of unused areas. The right half of the building is completely empty, and unused. Large areas on the dining floor are vacant. It seems like a poorly thought-out building, and the spatial disharmony leads to a feeling of unease in this place. Sort of a bad fung-shui, you might say.
When they closed the old DFAC #2, they used another contractor to operate the new DFAC #2, so many of the old workers have been sent home. Now they have a new crew of Nepalese workers. The new folks don’t seem to know how to do their jobs very well. The serving lines are painfully slow, the quality of the food is MUCH worse, and people are generally displeased with the new DFAC #2 because of the steep decline in the quality of food and service. My biggest complaint is that they plan on closing DFAC #3 (my favorite place for lunch and dinner) at the end of August, which will force many people to travel long distances to come to the new DFAC #2 or over to DFAC #1. This seems highly impractical, and the whole idea strikes me as bad. But having spent tens of millions of dollars on the new DFAC #2, I guess the military has to proceed with its plans.
Anyway, enough on this new dining facility. One other interesting thing that happened was that they had a “Christmas in July” 5K fun run a few weeks ago. It was interesting to be hot in the 80 degree weather at 5AM, and to see Christmas trees, and hear the organizers play Christmas music, like “Jingle Bells.” They even had Christmas presents to hand out in stockings to many people. I finally got my T-shirt from this event today, and here is what it looks like:
The military probably spends several hundred thousand dollars on these shirts every year, just to commemmorate fun runs. I treasure each T-shirt I get while in Iraq. These will be a nice memento from my time here.
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