If you have hungout with me long enough, you have likely heard this story, as I often consider it one of my best and funniest tales. I figured it was time to post it on here… It all begins on Thanksgiving night, 2003, not long after our Kosovo deployment, and just before our deployment to Iraq…
We heard that one of our favorite punk rock bands, the Bouncing Souls, was coming to Germany and would be playing in Schweinfurt Germany. I had fallen in love with the band a few years prior as Garett had introduced me to them in my intro to punk rock, that would shift my way of thinking as well as my musical tastes. Our buddy Joe, who we met in bootcamp, was stationed at Schweinfurt, so we let him know we were coming to party. We arrived late in the afternoon, and a few of the guys had decided to take some mushrooms before the show (though I refrained this time because I wanted to remember the show), so needless to say we were all over the place at the show.
After the show as we sat at a table drinking beers, Pete (lead guitar) walked by the table, and one of us said, "Hey! Great show!" Pete replied, "Americans! Hey just a minute!" He then proceeded to get Bryan (bass) and Bob (sound tech), and a large bottle of Jack Daniels. Pete, Bryan, Bob, Jeff, Garett, Joe, Fuckin A McCray, and myself, proceeded to sit around the table BSing the night away. McCray, fell asleep and we tried to get Pete to sign his face, but Pete just kept saying, "hell no, that guy will kill me!" At the end of the night we all exchanged contact information and they invited us to their show in Prague on Saturday night, telling us they would put us on the guest-list.
The next day we went back to our base in Vielseck, and prepared for our voyage to Prague, which was actually a short 2 1/2 hour drive from our base. I almost didn’t go because I had gotten in a fight with a girl I was seeing at the time. She had planned on hanging out with me that weekend, but couldn’t come to the show. I thought if I didn’t hangout with her, it may be over, but I really wanted to see the show. After hours of back and forth texting, she told me "fine," which I now know wasn’t fine, but that is neither here nor there… So it was Jeff, Joe, McCray, and I, all headed to Prague. Garett was in a similar situation as me, but in his case, his girlfriend won out.
Since Jeff hated driving, he let me drive. We got to the German/Czech border and I asked everyone for their passports, which Joe responded with, "What?! We need passports? I thought we just needed our military ID's like all the other countries we go to." Joe not knowing that the Czech Republic was notcovered under the Schengen Agreement yet. I thought it was worth a shot, but didn’t think it would work. Sure enough, we were rejected at the border.
Desperate, we turned the car around and pulled off at the first exit. We found a dirt road and started trying to make our way across the border, but couldn’t find a backroad across. I pulled over the car, got the map out, and found another border crossing in a town about 5 miles away. Once we reached the small border town, we pulled over again and threw Joe in the trunk of the car. It was a pretty big trunk, and Jeff had a lot of crap in the back including a large blanket, so we hid Joe underneath it.
By this time, it was already dark, but it was still early. We pulled up to the checkpoint and two Germans sat in the small shack. They looked at our passports and one asked in an excited voice, "goin to gamble, ja?" which we all replied, "jaaaaaa!" He returned our passports and waived us through. We all congratulated each other, exlaming the ease with which we executed our plan, but as we went around the corner we saw another checkpoint, the Czech checkpoint.
A single orange streetlight shoneover the guard shack, and outside stood two seemingly battle-hardened Czech soldiers with AK-47's. I pulled the car to a stop, as one stood in front of the car holding his rifle at the ready. The other came to my window and asked me to shut off the car and wanted to see our passports. He looked at them and passed them to a third inside the shack. He came back and asked our business, and we said we were going to Prague for a visit. He then said, "please open the trunk," and my heart sank. I got out of the car, and moved to the rear of the car. I opened the trunk and scanned quickly. Thankfully it was a bit dark back here as all I could see was a small piece of Joe's pants, and his black and white checkered Vans shoes. The guard sifted through a few things and then grabbed one of the shoes, that slipped off Joe's foot. He looked at the shoe, then looked at me, and said "do you have any guns?" In complete shock of him holding the shoe and not immediately putting us all in handcuffs, I replied, "What?!"
"Guns, guns, do you have any guns," and he patted his AK-47 with one hand while making a pistol with his other hand. Realizing what he asked, I said, "NO, no! We don’t have any guns!"
He then put the shoe down, closed the trunk, and said, "you can go."
In complete awe and disbelief of what just happened, I got in the car, started it, and zoomed off.
Once we were out of earshot of the guard tower, they asked me what happened in the back, and they listened in astonishment. About 5 miles down the road, I pulled over to let Joe out. He jumped out of the trunk and screamed,
"HOLY SHIT! HE GRABBED MY FOOT! HE TOOK MY SHOE OFF!!"
The whole way to Prague we thought they were just fucking with us, and talked about just over the hill we would meet another checkpoint where they would arrest us and throw us in some sort of gulag prison for human trafficking. Our hearts were racing until we finally made it into the city. We were gitty as school girls, feeling as if we just pulled off the crime of the century.
We arrived in Prague, but had no clue as to where we were supposed to go from there. We pulled the car into a parking garage near the city center. We then proceeded to talk to different cabbies, hoping one of them would know where the best place for a punk rock show would be. We finally found one who knew just where to go, and within minutes we were outside the Matrix Club. As we walked up, Pete was walking back from their equipment van, and we hollered, he spun and greeted us with a "Hey!" He told us he would make sure we were on the list, but to wait outside for a few minutes. Bob, was also outside and as we smoked wanted to make a liquor store run to find some Absinth, so me and him walked down the road looking for an open store. It only took a few minutes to find what we were looking for, and as soon as we stepped outside, we opened the bottle and had a few drinks.
The night was amazing, from one of the opening acts, Tsunami Bomb to the Souls show, to sitting around afterwards getting wasted. It was also at this show that I would meet one of my best friends, Marketa, who allowed us crazy boys to crash on her floor that night after the show. The next day she showed us around Prague a little, and I would form a life-long friendship with her, that I am very happy still lasts today. As we told our story to our new friends, they listened on in amazement, and we all knew that we would all be friends from here on out. To this day, whenever the Souls are in town, or when we are in their town, we all hangout. While we were in Iraq, we would send them emails, and they would post them on their webpage on a link called "Letters From Iraq." They even turned one of Garett's poems into a song called "Letters From Iraq." To which, when we got out of the military and involved in IVAW, they let us table at their events, come up on stage and say something before they played the song as well. We still have a close bond!
The return home was tense, as we strategized how we would get Joe back over the border back into Germany. We considered putting Joe in the trunk again, but thought since it was day time he would be easier to spot, as well as it might be a better check since they were more worried about keeping things out of Germany, not in it, much like the US-Mexico border. We decided to try and argue our way in. We would all give the border guards our military IDs, and insist that this is what they let us in with.
We got to the border, handed our IDs, which got us confused looks from the guards. We sat there and argued with them for a good 10 minutes, insisting this was what we used to get in. And once we realized that their patience was just about to its limit, we pulled 2 passports out of the glove compartment, and I went to the trunk where mine was, in my camera bag. I opened the bag and saw my current passport, and my previous (temporary) passport, and pulled both out. Fed up, he saw that I had two passports in my hand, he looked at me disgusted and said "go…"
So basically, we smuggled someone over an international border (human trafficking) just to see a punk rock show… This is my craziest/funniest story!