Monday, June 23, 2014

if you give a soldier a sundae

When I write something, I'll usually plug it on various social media sites, like Facebook--my own profile page, the Dreamers & Builders group page I'm in, the Clouds in my Coffee FB site, etc--and then sometimes on Twitter and even on Instagram.

Not going to do that with this post, because this isn't about what I did. It's about what we should all be doing.

The Lovely Steph Leann is out of town this week, doing a Young Living Essential Oils conference for the week. I'll get some Aunt Becky relief with Campbell on Tuesday night, but until then, its been hashtag guys weekend from Saturday morning, all day today and through tomorrow night--Campbell and I just hanging. The fact that the house hasn't burned to the ground is likely a good thing.

We went to Kingdom Comics today, as my friend Hurricane Rhett was on a Transformers discussion panel... I think KC is going to start a podcast, Kingdom Cast, which is an idea probably long overdue... anyway, Campbell was in the stroller as I wheeled him around the store while the panel was taking place--its small enough that I could still hear everything being said. Eventually, I stopped strolling him and just picked him up, where he proceeded to squirm, then stop squirming and nearly go to sleep in my arms. So, it was time to get him home...

...but first, I had to eat. So, I zipped down I-65 until I got to Hwy 119, then cut across to Sonic, where I proceeded to order a #1 combo with cheese, mayo, mustard and ketchup, tots and a blue coconut slush.  

As I waited for my order, I noticed a young man in camouflage walk up, followed closely by a little girl who was maybe 4, and a pretty young lady, who I guessed was either his wife, or at the least, his babymama.

I didn't mean to stare, but I kinda did, as he picked up the little girl, played a little, his wife laughing, and playing with the little girl too, and made my decision. When the chick came up to bring me my food, I took it all in, said thank you, and as she turned away, asked, "Can you do me a favor?"

"Sure!" Perky Carhop replied.

"See that guy in the camo right over there? And the little girl and woman with him?"

"Yup!" Perky Carhop replied.

"Do you know what they ordered? Like, do you know if they got dessert? Like, could I buy them a milkshake, or can you tell if they've already ordered their sweets?"

"Uh... I mean, I don't know... I don't... I didn't..." Perky Carhop stammered, smile gone.

"Never mind that," I said. "I have ten dollars. Can you take this, go inside and purchase two 5 dollar gift cards, and when you come out, just give one to the solder, and one to the young lady, and simply say that someone wanted to thank them both for their service and sacrifice? Please don't point me out, just give them the cards."

"I... I mean, I think... I don't know if we sell gift cards for $5, like, I'm like, not sure if you have to get them at $10 or more but... " Perky Carhop's friendly demeanor was all but gone, as I now was the customer she wanted to get rid of.

"Just please check for me. If you cannot get cards for $5 only, let me know, and we'll do something different..." I instructed.

Perky Carhop smiled wanly and disappeared back into the building.

And I then waited for at least 10 minutes. The family got their food finally, including sundaes and such, making the gift cards a better idea. Finally, I pushed the red button, wondering what in the world could take them so long...

This is the country that has made Iggy Azalea popular, as well as that "#SELFIE" stupid piece of crap song famous, mostly based on the purchases of today's youth, so I wasn't at all surprised that they were having issues doing... well, their job.

At last, Perky Carhop came back out to the car, and asked, "You wanted the gift cards, right?"

To me this was a completely puzzling question, because we just did four laps on this topic fifteen minutes ago, so I kinda feel like it was one of those questions you know the answer to, but you still ask it anyway as a way to simply bring it back up. Which is strange.

"Yes ma'am." I said.

"Okay, we can get those! I'll bring them out in a second!" Perky Carhop was back.

"New plan," I instructed. While she was in the building doing whatever it is she was doing that prevented her from loading two Sonic giftcards with $5 each, I thought about it, and thought about Campbell, who was happily in his carseat, just playing with his toy remote with the spinny wheel on top. He won't remember this instance at all... but I still wanted him to see the soldier and the family. Not so we could get praise, but so he could be there in the moment as we--me and my son--showed them appreciation that they so richly deserve. 

"If you wouldn't mind," I asked Perky Carhop, "please just bring the cards to me. I want me and my son to give them over." 

Perky Carhop smiled a smile that was not as much "That's so nice of you" as it was "Cool with me, so I can carry on with my day." She wasn't disrespectful at all, just more of viewing me as hindering her work, which I guess was kinda true. Still, I thought this was important.

Perky Carhop brought the cards out to me a few minutes later, and I unbuckled Campbell, and pulled him out of the seat. I walked over to the family, and simply said, "Hey guys... my name is d$ and this my son Campbell. We wanted to just tell both of you thank you so much for serving. And we wanted to give you each a small gift card, first to you sir, for serving, and then to you, ma'am, because you sacrifice a lot too so he can serve. Anyway, just wanted to say thank you, because you keep me, and especially this little guy safe at night."

Both the solider and the wife were bewildered at first, with the little girl looking on in curiosity. Then, the wife smiled, and said, "Oh my gosh... thank you, that's... that's so sweet... I mean... thank you..." and the soldier didn't so much smile as just have a "taken aback" look. "Thank you man. I mean, I really appreciate that. That's great."

"It's not a lot," I replied, "but enough to buy you two a milkshake or something. Anyway, you guys have a great day and enjoy your dinner!" Campbell grinned, tugged on my ear and probably said something like "Bah bah bah geh geh..." That could mean any number of things, but this time it probably meant, "Yes, what Daddy said just now. Dig that."

They waved, said thanks again, and we headed back to the Kia Soul. I loaded Pocket Change into the carseat, and as I got out of the backseat, the soldier stood there. "Hey man... thank you. I wanted to tell you how awesome that was."

I smiled, shook his hand, and said, "My dad was Air Force, fought in WWII and Korea, and so I have a deep appreciation for what you guys do, and for what your family has to sacrifice to let you do it."

He smiled, and said, "Yeah, honestly, I think my family has it harder than I do when I'm not there."

"I'll bet. Campbell doesn't talk yet, but I want to teach him to say thank you to you guys, even if it's just a simple 'thank you Mister Army Man'. I want him to understand."

"And we are trying to teach our daughter about doing nice things for other people.... and you gave us a great lesson to show her. Thanks again." The wife hollered out, "Thank you!" and waved from the table.

We parted ways, I got in the car and drove away. I looked in the rearview mirror at Campbell, smiled, and said, "That's how you do it. Just that simple."

Our military needs to be thanked endlessly. If I had had a $1000 gift card to give them, it wouldn't be nearly enough... how do you put a price on missing your kid's birthday, or your anniversary, or funerals of loved ones, or time with your spouse to grow closer together? You can't. And you certainly can't with a $1000 Sonic gift card... and I'm not sure who would want a $1000 Sonic gift card anyway.

Thank a soldier. Just extend your hand and say "Thank you". Or if you are in a Starbucks or McDonalds or a Sonic and you see someone in uniform, grab a $5 gift card and give it to them. Buy them lunch or a shake or a latte... let them know that you appreciate who they are and what they are doing. 

Sometimes they'll just nod your head and say, "Thank you." Many times they will talk to you, and you can see real appreciation and gratitude in their faces. It's so sad when the mere act of showing a soldier thanks results in you getting more gratitude from them then you are giving to them. Many parts of our government are increasingly showing less appreciation to the men and women in uniform AND to the families and friends who have to pick up their slack left behind while they fight--and are injured, maimed, or killed--for us.

Anyway, just wanted to share that with you. Like I said, this wasn't about me doing anything noble, it was about how we should all be doing the same until the act isn't so uncommon.

Thank you, Mister Army Man


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