Tuesday, March 03, 2009
On the road again!
The sun is just rising at my back as I head west. I get lots of friendly waves and smiles on our side of the freeway, as I watch traffic bumper-to-bumper for at least 15 miles outside of Atlanta… and feel luck to be going the opposite direction – except fewer people get to see the Yes We CAN help Obama CHANGE direction message.
It’s the kind of bright sunny cold out there that, if I was in California looking out the window, I’d put on shorts. Here, looking out the window, frost has made interesting flakey patterns on the inside of the glass where my breath and body heat has condensed and frozen!
Just before leaving Georgia and crossing into Alabama, I fuel up. Inside the Flying J, I share the coffee machine with a friendly man curious about my coffee gear. I’m getting hot water & making my own; he’s pouring himself a cup of coffee.
He’s also curious about my hat & CodePINK button, thinking it might be ‘breast’ cancer – he mumbles the ‘breast’ part.
I explain CodePINK is a women’s peace organization & begin to explain the connection to Bush’s terror tactics, to which he reacts in mid-sentence, gracefully extending up a beautiful hand, backing up a step declaring he’s just returned from Iraq and asks me not to be angry at him.
I can’t help stare at his long empty fingers and see them encircling a gun. I tell him I’m not angry, I feel very sorry for him and what I imagine he must have gone through. He tells me he had no choice, he was a lifer. 27 years he says. His eyes, dark deep pools, don’t reflect the small smile on his lips; his bald head glistening like perfectly dark roasted coffee beans.
I tell him about the other ‘lifer’ I met, a womon, who was also in 27 years, went to Iraq, came home & quit. When I related her declaration that in 27 years, her orders in Iraq were the only ones she felt ashamed following, this man just nodded, agreeing.
That surprised me. I expected him to deny the shame or blame her. But he said he just nodded and said people shouldn’t have to go against their conscience.
He continued with the “if we don’t get them, “THEY” will get us” argument. I told him that WE are the “THEY” in the world.
I told him I’m curious. I know those people in power want us to believe we NEED a military to live in the world – we know THEY need a military to take resources from other nations, but did he think that WE, the people, really need a military?
He’s exasperated, pointing to my hat – or maybe the hot pink boa encircling the brim – and informs me his fighting in Iraq, the military fighting around the world, makes it possible for me to wear this hat.
We both laugh. I tell him it’s ordinary people who have stepped up for us over the centuries that has enabled me to wear this hat, not the military. He agrees. But then he asks, how many of those people are there really? I tell him we’ll have one more if he joins us!
He brings up Obama and asks me if I voted for him. I say no, I voted for Cynthia McKinney. He looks like I’ve suddenly turned into the snake in Eve’s arms! He stalks off and disappears into his office before I can tell him about IVAW.
27 years in the military and now he’s store manager for Flying J…