How do you react when you are in a public place and overhear our troops being denounced as murderous thugs? Do you shake your head in dismay and bite your tongue, or do you butt into another’s conversation and ask the offender to clarify?
People are becoming more vocal. They are sharing their views with strangers while in lines. And we always seem to be in one line or another. I was taught that it is rude to eavesdrop on others’ conversations. To interject my own views would announce to all that I had not only been listening, but also feel my point of view is so important that they should overlook my lack of manners.
So I stand quietly, in line after line, listening to people rant about everything from the price of gasoline, to illegal immigrants, from politics to our Troops.
Biting a hole in the side of my cheek. Drats, why did my parents teach me that manners are so darn important?
Did that woman just say that we are shipping oil from Iraq to secret refineries all over the world? Please Miss Manners, let me correct her. This line is moving too slowly… The people just need to turn around and ask me what I think. Come on… Turn around.
Line after line. The grocery store, the bank, the post office, the DMV … lines of people, talking, ranting … and I am forced by my good manners to continue turning the inside of my cheek into shredded fibers.
Turn around and ask me what I think!
And then I hear it, the words that prompt me to step up and speak. No, they never turned to ask my opinion, and I am sure they wish I never would have shared. But, I did! I am not proud that I left a man shaking and sputtering. Yet, to remain quiet would have been a slap in my morals
I will backup to last Saturday. I was in line at the post office. I stood there for 15 minutes listening to a ‘schmuck’ bad mouth everything from the President thru big business and I began to squirm. The clock on the wall was ticking in slow motion…
I tried to tune him out… And then he did it. He began speaking of the war. My radar popped up and I listened. He began mildly enough whining about why we should not be in Iraq. I grimaced when he began the “Blood for Oil” speech.
I pinched myself to remain quiet when he talked of the money we are wasting in the Middle East.
The woman he was talking with kept shaking her head in agreement and saying, “Really, I had no idea!”
You had no idea because he is not telling you the truth … turn around and ask me! PLEASE!!!
Then he spoke the words that made me forget my Dad and all those lessons on what a proper lady should do. (Sorry Dad, you will have to forgive me)
He said, “You know the Soldiers kill everyone who gets in their way. It does not matter if they are men, women, or children. They drag them out of their houses and kill them all.”
What the Hell?
I showed immense restraint when I quietly, but firmly stepped a foot from him and said. “Sir, that is a LIE.”
I swear he squealed like a cornered piglet. “No, it is not! They are killing babies in the streets.”
“No, they are not and I am going to ask you politely to quit telling lies.”
He was almost screaming at this point. “I know this is true. My Vietnam buddy told me it happens all the time.”
“Sir, has your buddy been to Iraq?”
Again he shrieked, “He does not have to be there to know what they are doing!”
Holy pig fat!
This man’s logic was so far off base, that I was almost at a loss for words.
“Sir, what your buddy told you is not even remotely true. Please do not confuse facts with imaginary situations.”
“I have stood here quietly entertained by the nonsense you have blessed us all with for the past 15 minutes. But, I will not remain quiet while you tell your captive audience that my son and the Soldier’s at his side are murderous animals.”
The room became deathly quiet. All thirty or so people in line were watching, waiting to see who would make the next move.
He stammered for a bit and then tried to switch tracks. “Well, we are wasting the lives of a lot of young men.”
For those who have never seen the dreaded “Look of Death” ask my husband or my sons. This is a look that I have very little control over. Steely eyes that pierce even the blackest heart. They radiate a look that says, “You have crossed the line. Retreat, or prepare for battle.”
It is amazing the calm that comes over me, the complete sense of power. I can feel every beat of my heart. My mind is locked and loaded. Bring it!
Staring hard into his eyes, oblivious to those around me, I firmly said, “Do you have the guts to tell the parents who’s child paid the ultimate sacrifice… Do you want to tell them that their child’s life was wasted? That they died for nothing?”
I know I was clenching my teeth as my jaw was beginning to ache.
He stammered some more while I continued to glare, never breaking eye contact.
I took a deep breath and said, “Sir, this is a free country. You can say whatever you want. BUT, if I hear you tell anyone that my child is a murderous thug, if I hear you slandering the Troops in any way, I have the right to ask you to stop. That is all I am asking.”
“Get your facts from a reliable source and be aware that the other people in line with you might have a loved one in the service of our country. Do not disrespect our men and women in the Military.”
No one said a word… It was so quiet. The man in line behind me put a comforting hand on my shoulder. We did not talk, but I felt his support. A few moments later I turned to thank him and he nodded in approval and gave me a wink. I am guessing he was in his early 60’s. He gave a half salute and said “Marines 64-67.”
Back to my question. How do you react when you are in a public place and overhear our troops being denounced as murderous thugs? Do we stand quietly in line? Do we let those who spread the lies, continue unchecked?
Sorry, Dad. The lessens you have taught have not been forgotten. However, I don’t think you will be disappointed with my lack of restraint.
I did stop short of lowering myself with obscenities (they were on my tongue, but not uttered).
I also refrained from popping him in the nose. I remembered, a lady would never reduce herself in such a way.
But, darn it Dad… Sometimes I feel my inner turmoil would be greatly reduced if you would not have taught me to act like a lady and always honor the family name.
Would you be so kind as to come to Houston and pop someone in the nose for me?