Bookshelves, Brownies, Car Searches and More!

Obtaining necessary items to put together a house as well as living on base can prove different or difficult depending on the circumstance.

A month or so into this, I’ve learned a few things others who find themselves in similar circumstances might want to know…

Here are the few “do’s and don’ts” I’ve learned, enjoy:

  1. Don’t, I repeat, DON’T order the Walmart-brand bookshelf.

It’s cheap – yes. It looks like the same one you had set your sights on via Amazon… Until Amazon jumped the price from $35 to $60 for the same item. So, the one on Wal-Mart’s website looks the same, and it’s only $30! Buyer beware – you get what you pay for.

So, the day came, the bookshelf arrived, I made a trade agreement with my husband for him to have the job of putting it together (I cleaned his nightstand…. Which hadn’t been cleaned out or dusted in who knows how many years). He opened the box, spilled out the contents… To find 100 pieces or so and a 40-page manual… And of course, the pieces didn’t magically just “fit” together – sometimes, the nails had to literally be shoved in.

It took him about two hours to build and one of the boards ended up being backwards, I painted it later to make it black to match the rest of the shelf.

While he was laboring with this task, I thought it was a splendid idea to cheer him up by baking brownies…

2. Don’t use olive oil instead of vegetable oil when baking brownies – it won’t work.

Sadly, I didn’t read ALL of the required ingredients to make the brownies before I started mixing ingredients, only to realize a few minutes in that I was missing an important one – vegetable oil.

It was already past 8:30, which is when Wal-Mart closes now thanks to COVID, and the eggs had already been cracked, the brownie mix opened and dumped, and whatever else the box called for. I had committed.

But then it required vegetable oil, and my pantry did not have it. However, I did have olive oil, and I figured, “oil is oil, right”?

Not right.

The brownies overly expanded and had a very strange aftertaste… they were tolerable hot, with ice cream, but let’s just say neither me nor my husband was eager to go back for seconds and with no dog to throw it to, most of it ended up in the trashcan.

3. Do consent to a car search if you are “randomly selected” at the gate entering a military base.

As luck would have it, while entering the gate, after they checked my ID, I was chosen for a car search.

The guard asked me (after he read a lot of other words off of a paper), “Do you consent to your car being searched, yes or no?”

I replied, “Can I say no?” (not realizing this might have made me look guilty, I just didn’t want to deal with the inconvenience of having my car searched, nor letting the government search my property without probable cause or something I had learned in a civics class)

He responded, “No, not really.”

So, I pulled over, popped the trunk, rolled down the windows, opened up all of my compartments, etc. while he made sure I wasn’t carrying anything illegal onto base (speaking of which, what are they looking for on these random car searches?).

I was smooth-rolling until he asked me to pop and lift my hood.

Now me, being the car-inept-person I am, didn’t know how to lift my hood… So, he had to ask for my consent to lift it for me, and then checked to make sure there wasn’t anything inconspicuous above or beside the engine and the other parts of the car that reside there.

After all was said and all was searched, his one comment to me was that I really liked water (I tend to have a collection of empty water bottles on the floor of the passenger seat) and waved me on my way.

Just so you know, because I didn’t, if you live on base, be prepared to be “randomly selected” for a vehicle search, even if you just went out for groceries, and do consent as they say you really don’t have a choice.

4. Don’t order a washer and dryer set from the Exchange (military mall).

Let’s just say, ordering a washer and dryer was at the top of our “to-do list”. After Lowe’s was sold out of all the ones less than $500 a piece, we thought the Exchange was a good option and placed an order for them over a month ago.

Last week, we got the notification they would ship them on August 3rd and our credit card was charged.

So, hopefully, they will arrive by September (three months later) (and we still have to figure out how to install them ourselves).

Maybe we should have checked The Home Depot before going to the Exchange…

5. Do beware of the trumpets and the regulations that follow.

On base, Reveille blares out at seven in the morning (I usually sleep through it), retreat followed by the national anthem plays at five in the afternoon to signify the end of the work day, and then taps plays at nine in the evening to mark “quiet hours”.

But, if you ever find yourself on base at five p.m., know you need to stop (even if you are in a car), and those in uniform have to stand at attention and in salute, service members have to stand at attention, and civilians place their hands over their hearts while the anthem plays.

Let’s just say, people rush to get off base around this time and might even avoid going outside so they aren’t “caught by the anthem” every day.

Maybe one of these items will be helpful for you in your present or in your future, or maybe they won’t, either way I suppose you might be more prepared than I was!

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