Having offered the story of a shuttle driver, I thought I would give you a little more information about what life is like for workers in the Green Zone. Everyone works seven days a week, and the average work day tends to run from around 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning until about 7:30 in the evening, at least for most of the people with whom I have spoken. When a civilian employee first arrives, they are housed in what is affectionately called "the homeless shelter"--a room with around 200 cots. (It is also called "Jurassic Park," based on the noises that come from the dark corners of the room.) They will stay here for a number of weeks (the number seems to be getting longer), until a trailer is prepared for them. The trailers are classic college dorm living. You and your roommate (yep, roommate--doesnt matter that youre 50) share a small room, which itself shares a bathroom with another unit. At the entrance to this housing development is a lovely sign calling the place "River Villas."
Meals are offered at a common dining area. When you get tired of the standard rotation of food, there is the Green Zone cafe, where you speak to Achmed if you would like a warm beer. There are also two Chinese restaurants. I have eaten at one of these, and I must admit that the food was better than the Chinese food I got in Medina, Ohio! Finally, there is a sports bar in the Al Rasheed, which has a big screen for catching the games (although one of the screens invariably has soccer on), and which offers adult beverage.
Given the amount these people work it is not surprising that a worker should say to me following the Al Rasheed rocket attack of a couple of nights ago, "[A]t times you forget where you are . . . until something like this [the bombing] happens."