A very small few of you were privy to my postings long before I new what a blog was. When I was in Afghanistan in 2002-03, I used to send out e-mails to a list of friends, who then forwarded them to their own lists. The post below is January, 2003. I dredge it up tonight because, honestly, I haven't been out to eat, all by myself, other than the dollar menu at Burger King, since late last summer. But tonight, I'm at an Outback Steakhouse near my apartment. I'm going to blame it on the effects of a Vesper, made to JB's exacting standards, and some light at the end of the tunnel. At any rate, the text below, an email sent out long ago, should make amply clear why Outback will have my business for a long time to come.
From: Doc, LTC
Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 8:01 AM
Subject: Day 79, Outback
Some of you, no doubt, already frequent Outback Steakhouses. Some of you, maybe not. For those that do, or those that will, I've a favor to ask. Next time you eat there, ask to speak to the manager, not just the hostess or your waiter, but the manager. When she or he comes, tell them you want to thank them on behalf of a friend of yours.
Last night, I had the best meal I've had since leaving home some 80 days ago. The best I expect to have until I get back. A steak, at least an inch and a half thick, cooked perfectly, a baked potato with real butter and sour cream, dark, soft bread with real butter, barbequed, unbattered shrimp, (not those frozen deep fried things that I've almost learned to like), a good-sized chunk of a Bloomin' Onion, with sauce, and a slice of cheesecake that, alone, had more calories in it than I've been consuming in a day here.
The line for chow stretched out to and down Disney Drive last night. There are only two fryers in the Dining Facility. The poor girl who was carrying out the Onions said at one point, "You know, I'm the most popular woman here tonight, and I didn't even have to sleep with anyone." True enough. Glad she had a sense of humor about it. We sent an armed escort from our table to meet her as she came out of the kitchen. (Of course, we're all armed, so it's a wonder gunplay didn't break out over the onions.) :-)
We've been grateful for every morale visit here, but more people went out of their way to tell the whole Outback crew THANK YOU than did for any other visitors so far--even the cheerleaders. They don't publicize this. They just do it. They know the word of mouth will get out.
I would love it if you would thank them too. Give them your business because the food is great, but be sure, the next time you go, to tell them thanks for sending people and food halfway around the world to give the troops a taste of home. It was the best treat yet.
"Doc", LtCol, USAF
Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan
Update: It tastes just as good six years later and without any poorly aimed rockets sailing overhead. Outback still rocks.
Taken on the way back from the range, a week before Outback arrived, 2003:
Waiting for that Bloomin' Onion, tonight, 2009: