Sleep. Even before Tuesday night's County Council meeting began, Councilman David G. Boschert was thinking about sleep.
The councilman, who has been working a swing shift at U.S. Marine Corps headquarters at the Pentagon since he was called to active duty last month, could barely suppress a groan as he thought about the few hours of shut-eye he was going to get that night.
After the meeting (which ended at 10 p.m.), Boschert was going home to sleep until 2:30 a.m. Then he'd have to get up, get dressed, and get to the Pentagon by 4 a.m.
"It's been very, very horrendous,"said Boschert, D-Crownsville.
Boschert is working in the Family Response Center, the division of the Marines' public affairs office that answers calls from across the nation on an 800 line. Most calls are from family members wanting information about a loved one in the Persian Gulf.
Since Jan. 29, Boschert said his office has received 129,000 calls. Earlier this week, the Marines fielded 3,300 calls in one 24-hour period.
"It's very trying," he said, just before Tuesday's council meeting in Annapolis. "It's very emotional. It breaks youdown. I just hope this thing is over with without a major ground battle."
Data on each Marine in the gulfis updated daily and sent to the public affairs office via satellite, Boschert said. However, he and other public affairs workers are not allowed to tell callers if a soldier has been seriously injured or killed. The Marines always notify families in person.
Boschert said he handled a call from the mother of one Texas soldier who was killed by friendly fire. "I comforted her to the best of my ability. I said, 'We have information, but we want to get as much updated information as possible.' "
Boschertsaid he's exhausted. He's been working six days at a time -- two days from midnight to 8 a.m. followed by two from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., two from 4 p.m. to midnight and two days off.
"I would like to resolve this as soon as possible so I can get back to a normal life," Boschert says. "I am always tired."