Mids at Teufelsberg, Field Station Berlin

Most of us stationed at the Army's Field Station Berlin who worked at Teufelsberg ("the hill") were known as "trick trash." The name comes from being assigned to one of four teams that were on this bizarre rotating schedule known as "6 and 2." The team would work 6 day shifts, get two days off; six swing shifts, get two days off; six mid shifts, get two days off; and then start the cycle all over again. Sort of rinse and repeat. One result was that I always felt like I had jet lag. The time of day was no longer a sign post for my personal habits, and the common expression "It's never too early for a beer and never too late for breakfast," soon became a way of life.

Day shifts were not physically demanding, but they put us trick trash into close contact with the "day whores," the big shots important enough to be assigned to a permanent day shift. They were always the first to leave the hill when inclement weather required the evacuation of all "non-essential personnel." I could never figure out why we needed them when the weather was good if we didn't need them when the weather was lousy. Fact is, we probably didn't.  Swings were my favorite shift. I could sleep in after a late night out, get a few things done during daylight hours, and not have to be ready for work, before I lived on the economy, until the trick buses left Andrews Barracks at about 2:30 in the afternoon. Mids were awful. The chow was lousy, the commies were for the most part asleep, and there was precious little to do to stay awake. Everyone had their own strategies for staying awake; sleeping was prohibited, although I once heard that the Brits assigned to T-Berg had cots! I relied heavily on RIAS Zwei (Radio in the American Sector 2) to keep me awake. It didn't always work, and I once went to sleep standing up. I woke up just as I was about to do a face-plant on a set of file cabinets in the middle of Subsystem Echo. An occasional half-hour nap on the toilet was about the only relief I could manage. One mid while I was working in the transcription bay on the second floor (Treadmill - nice evocative name, eh?), I was the only one in the bay awake. I had my feet up on the lone desk and was reading the Stars and Stripes when Captain What's His Name came by. He had jump wings on and his combat boots were way too shiny. Not surprisingly, the sleeping soldiers irritated him. He addressed his concerns to me, the lone conscious soul. "I hope those men [one of them was a beautiful young woman named Reggie, buy why quibble] aren't doing what I think they're doing, soldier." "What do you think they're doing, sir?" was my respectful reply as I continued reading. "Looks like they're sleeping!" "No. They're dead, sir. So you can relax." He wandered back to his office where he spent the rest of the mid undoubtedly wishing for a transfer to some place that treated his Captain-ness with a little more respect. I like to think that he understood that mids were something we all just had to get through and there was no use getting too damn fussy about it.