A field guide to Space A-liens

Sheri Byrd
Kaiserslautern American

It’s migration season again, when the Space A-liens in their various species can be spotted with delightful frequency in the KMC. Their typical migration routes are between the AMC passenger terminal and the base exchange, but they can also be seen coming to and from base billeting, and congregating around base taxi stands.

The experienced spotter has no trouble distinguishing these visitors, but for the novice watcher, learning the distinctive differences is a must. The primary difference is the A-liens’ distinctive call, the sound of asking directions to locations less than 100 yards away.

Space A-liens come in two age groups: active duty and retired. Both sorts have the usual sub-species: with and without dependents.

Active duty
Active-duty Space A-liens without dependents look very much like their civilian cousins. They are young, alone or in same-gender traveling pairs, and always carry large backpacks. They display a rumpled, care-free appearance, faces unlined by the worry of years or the responsibility of families. Males have shaved hair, both for military regulation and for ease of care while traveling, though they are unshaven. Females wear no make-up, and typically have hair tied up off the neck for the cooling effect during summer heat and physical exertion of migration.

Active-duty Space A-liens with dependents appear in family groups. The spouses of the active-duty A-liens typically shoulder responsibility for the young, as is evidenced by the stressful barking and whining sounds they exhibit while trying to procure fast food and nesting areas once departing the passenger terminal. The migrating family groups can be distinguished from resident families by the large amounts of baggage they carry, and confused, unfamiliar facial expressions.

Retired Space A-liens without dependents are affectionately known throughout AMC as the “Space-A hobos.” They are a rough-looking breed, who have often gone without a hair cut or full night’s sleep in months. They can randomly migrate year-round, going wherever the next empty seat goes.

With dependents, the retired A-liens travel in mating pairs. They are distinguishable by their matched markings, which have developed over a lifetime of shared experiences. They characteristically display matching wheeled luggage, matching white hair and white sneakers, and often matching sweatshirts or jogging attire, which suits the transient lifestyle of the high migration season. They are characteristically more knowledgeable of their surroundings than the younger, active-duty A-liens, often returning to the same summer migration lands year after year, or having lived in the KMC during their own active-duty stage of life. The post offices are common places to see them mailing letters and packages home.

All species are typically harmless and friendly, and will usually allow a local to offer them a ride to the nearest feeding, watering or resting places.