August 5, 2014 by JImbo
A woman came up to me the other day in the parking lot while I was getting some go juice for myself and the car. I was careful not to mix them up. I was exhausted and running on empty. But, the woman trotted across the whole parking lot quickly with something on her mind.
Bashfully she stopped and wrung her hands nervously. “I know this is going to sound cliché” she said, “But I just had to tell you how much it means…” At this point she teared up a little and took a breath. “It means so much that my little girls can be safe on the street because of what you do. I… just wanted to say that. I know you’re busy.”
I’m used to this and usually cycle through the standard responses to this situation. People are always approaching us to say “Thank you for your service.” It’s appreciated, but we as soldiers we tend to feel a bit awkward about it. It’s like being thanked for doing your job.
Who goes up to a garbage man and says “Thank you for hauling away my awful spoiled food?” Or who thanks the plumber for fixing your toilet? You pay them of course, and you may say “Thanks!” But, do you go out of your way to cross a parking lot to thank them?
Every military person has their own responses. Generally we’re polite and thankful.
“You’re very welcome.”
“It’s worth it, trust me.”
“God Bless You and your Family.”
“I’m just doing my job.”
I think I just nodded and mumbled something like “We thank you for supporting US. It means a lot when we’re away from home.” I hope that was enough. It just didn’t seem equal to the task.
I think about this when I’m scrubbing a dirty grill or standing knee-deep in garbage. It’s rarely a glorious job. Even if you get off on war movies, they usually don’t show thetroops taking our garbage or digging holes. They don’t show them doing laundry or digging a hole to crap in.
It does keep the country safe. We’re each doing our jobs in order to be ready to defend our country. I guess in the end we get to the same thing. In the end we’re away from home and working long hours… shooting, cooking or doing paperwork.
Hollywood actors have lately been criticized for making statements to the effect that being on a movie set is like being in the military. I can see their point. They don’t get shot at with real bullets and make a shit load of more money. But, in the end being away from home for weeks or months at a time doesn’t matter to your friends and family.
So, thank you for your support. And the paycheck. Although if you REALLY want to pay me what Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie are getting I wouldn’t mind.