January 23, 2004
My uncle Mehran graduated from high school and it
was time for him to make a decision as to what path to take. Freedom
was my uncle's deepest passion. Freedom to pretty much leave the
realized that without going through military service
he would not be able to achieve his goals. So he was
stuck with two choices: mandatory military service or
university first and then military service.
During the revolution, you had just one
choice: MANDATORY MILITARY SERVICE. So my uncle
lucked out and didn't have to struggle with the
decision. If you were one of those lucky rich kids
who could "buy" your way out of military time then you'd be free
to do whatever you wanted. Unfortunately my uncle wasn't
one so he had to do
military service. And to make matters worse it was at
the height of war with Iraq.
Let me tell you a little about my uncle. To this day I
still think the guy could have been a stand up
comedian. His comedic timing and ability to make
people laugh is second to none. Unfortunately for me
I didn't inherit a single one of his funny genes -- ask
anyone who has come across one of my jokes.
takes blood, sweat and tears to even get a sympathy smile
for my bad jokes, Mehran can have you rolling on the ground
with anything that
comes out of his mouth. He could desperately try to
have a serious conversation about, for example, war or
world hunger or any other serious topic and inadvertently have
all listeners tearing at the eyes from laughter -- I really don't
know what it is about him but, my god, why
couldn't I have it too?
My uncle was enlisted and thus began his military
service, which was a constant source of amusement due
to the following reasons:
1. My uncle has always had long hair. The idea that
he would have to shave his head horrified him.
2. My uncle loves to sleep in. Being in the army
meant that he would have to get up early. Really
Mehran arrived home from his first day of his service
and said he was assigned to a barrack in Tehran.
We were amazed to hear that. Most of the new
recruits were sent to the front lines; we were
eager to find out how he managed to score such a plush
He said soldiers were in a room one day and the sergeant
asked about their skills. Mehran apparently told
him that he could fix cars, electrical equipment,
stoves -- practically anything. For that reason, he was
asked to stay in Tehran as a maintenance man. The
funny thing was that my uncle has never had any
experience in fixing things. And the few things he
helped me with for school were utter disasters.
My uncle's first test of his skills came at
around 2 am one winter night. He was called into action
when the heater at a bunker for the Hezbollah needed to be repaired.
He arrived half asleep and started to tweak with the
Suddenly the heater
burst into a ball of fire and was put out by the men
in the bunk. Now fully awake he tried to think
quickly for a viable explanation for the burst of
flame. He explained that he had noticed the
electrical wires were screwed up and although he tried
to fix the problem. they were beyond repair.
explained that they needed to request a new heater in
the morning. He then left the men on that freezing
night and went back to his bunk and slept the rest of
the evening. The next morning his sergeant summoned
him. The exchange went something like this:
Sergeant (To his aide): "Book him for 11 days in the
Mehran (Shocked): "Why? What did I do?"
Sergeant: "First you will have to serve your 11 days,
then I will explain."
Mehran (Nervous now): "Sergeant, please tell me what is
going on. At least that way I can defend myself."
Sergeant (Still upset): "This is for letting those
Hezbollah members freeze over night."
Mehran (Now under control): "Sergeant the heater was
faulty, and the supply store was closed. There was
nothing I could have done last night. I was on my way
to the store to pick one up for them."
Sergeant (A bit calm now): "Fine, you go and install
the new heater. But this is a warning. Don't let this
Mehran: "Yes sir."
What was amazing was that my uncle was actually just
leaving for the day, but quickly went to the store and
picked up a heater and dropped it off.
My uncle was always home with us. He served his two-year military
service like it was a 8-to-5 job. After a month, my
dad couldn't hold
curiosity any longer and
asked him his secret. Mehran only said he had a
good sergeant who gave him passes to go home at the end of each day.
One day my brother and I snuck into my uncle's room
and found him sitting and practicing a signature. Realizing we had witnessed
something, Mehran just told us that he was practicing a new signature.
believed the story for a long time. It wasn't until
years later that we realized Mehran had forged his
sergeant's signature during the entire period of his military service
and gotten daily passes.
Apparently even the sergeant
was aware of it and had requested that my uncle stay a
few nights during the week at the barracks so that he
wouldn't raise suspicion among the other soldiers.
But my uncle didn't like that idea too much and was
insulted by even the suggestion.
To this day I am still amazed at all the stuff my
uncle pulled and got away with >>>Part
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