Center of Space Diagnostics, our training facility, is located slightly outside of the city center. Surrounded by forest on one side and small houses on the other. In front of the main entrance, you can see nice helipad, where from time to time special case cadets are being flown to, as there is a last minute vacancy on the shuttle and they need to run some quick checks to determine whether he can qualify for the flight to heaven. Next to the main entrance there is a big parking lot, filled with cars from early morning to the afternoon. When you enter the main entrance you can see people walking from place to place, parents lost and looking for the way, people working here, visiting, or just wandering as they are trying to forget that they need to be here. CSD has 11 floors, where dependable on the cadets profile,one is being examine if he or she has the right predispositions to be part of the flying crew. There are floors where you come for a day or two and they let you go, saying that you are not the right fit, or floors where you spend weeks, months or even years. The facility has many corridors, where even corporals who work here for couple of years, still get lost, a canteen and a small chapel. In short, all what you need and all that you would want from a place like this.
It takes me more less half an hour drive from our home to the CSD. Taking a bit more time in the morning, when there is heavy traffic, and slightly less at night, where roads are empty. Once I arrive in the morning, I need to let one or two elevators go, before I will be able to squeeze myself in, this get really difficult when we are moving in or going for a short break home, as we also have bags and camp-bed with us. Luckily it’s getting less and less people at night, when I am leaving the CSD, which gives me a little breath of air, not to say fresh but at least I don’t need to stare at peoples’ eye pretending that I am fine. Nevertheless each time I enter the elevator in the morning, where visitors or other parents are also trying to push their way in and I press number seven on the dashboard, suddenly from those, who I can sense are staying longer, I start to get this look of sympathy. They know well what cadets are trained on that floor. I sometimes smile back at them and say sarcastically. ” Lucky number seven.”
Our floor, similar to others, has two main corridors going parallel to each other. One third of the way, once you pass captains rooms, we have command center where all the corporals are siting. This is 4 feet desk, which most parents see, as first thing, when they come here with their child. This is the place where you get your key to the locker and they assign your child to the room he will be staying in. This is the place when you come running when something bad happens to your child, as often corporals are the first to help you and right after them, when situation in most cases is already under control, you can see your captain charging in.
Behind the command center desk there are rooms going from right to left, where you can see from 3 to 4 cadets laying in their beds and alongside those beds, their parents, who day and night are looking after them. At the end of those corridors you have shared kitchen and day room. A place where you and your child have an imitation of normal life. Place where there are some toys to play with and from time to time comes small road theater to perform, so for a second they will forget what they are going through.
I try to come early in the morning, right after the rush hours, to be as close to my family as possible, and leave late night. Mostly when I go back home, lights are already dimmed, and in most of the rooms cadets are already sleeping. I always hope that they are being in better place, where there is less pain and suffering and smile is back on their faces all the time. I like those moments of peace, as sometimes I can see that this horrible place is gaining some magic. Those corridors, so crowded and noisy during the day, at night start to breathe their own air. I like to leave at night as those are the moments when I sense presence of Angels walking on those corridors and making sure that this night will not be one of those night when somebody unexpectedly flies to heaven.
Lucky number 7, who was that bastard, with such a sarcastic mind, to put those kind of kids on that floor.