I've kept telling all of you that sooner or later I would pull my head out of my ass and share some of my observations with you about being home and coming home and seeing everyone and everything through a different set of spectacles.
So here goes...
(and this one will probably sound redundant) I've noticed how INCREDIBLY spoiled and RIDICULOUSLY entitled the lion's share of Americans are. Especially those of us 30 and under.
I mean its a trip just watching it. I was in a Wal-mart the other day. (I'm not proud of it, but I needed batteries.) And it was one of those super Wal-Marts. Thing was the size of an airplane hangar. I actually heard a guy walking around in there say, "I hate this f-ing place, they never have anything!"
Dude, are you serious? They don't have anything here. They have EVERYTHING! There isn't a thing you could possibly need that you can't find in Wal-Mart.
Oh, and by the way my personal opinion of Wal-Mart is that they are fascist sacks of shit who do not deserve to live. They pay their workers next to nothing, and actually have infrastructure in place that helps their employees collect welfare benefits from the government so that they don't bitch so much about how badly they're being f-ed by their corporate masters.
When I got home and I went into a store for the first time, I dove right in. I went to the largest outdoor mall in my area. Every single store under the sun. Everything from glow in the dark condoms to ladies plus sized clothing. I was awed. I walked around like a kid at Disney land. It took me a good half an hour to wrap my brain around it all.
I couldn't help but think to myself, "Who the fuck needs all this shit?" Its no wonder the whole country is in debt. But that's a tired argument. Simple fact is that people need to discipline themselves to live within their means, however meager they might be.
I came from a place where I thought I was king of the world if I was able to buy a 23 oz can of Arizona Lemon Iced Tea. I never even bothered to think about what brand of toothpaste I wanted, because I was going to get what they had at the PX which was the size of my closet, or whatever you guys had sent to me.
I didn't even think of what kind of soap I would use. Because I would use whatever I could get my hands on.
I thought that a package of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups was a little slice of heaven.
A cupcake was orgasmic!
I wasn't even the slightest bit bothered by my drinks not being cold.
And a million other little indignities that no red blooded American would tolerate here.
So here's the observation. How about a little appreciation America? Not of soldiers, I'm not talking about that. Appreciation of the standard of living here.
It makes me laugh that there has been much made of the fact that mine is the first generation that will not have a higher standard of living than its predecessor. All I have to say about that is...have you ever heard of critical mass? Basically, when you grow so big that you can't grow any larger without crushing yourself underneath the weight of your own massiveness. (And even if that's not what it means, that's how I understand it so that's what we're going with.)
We don't need a higher standard of living. We need to lower our standards.
Not everyone needs a new car, a $200,000 house, a 60 inch TV, and all the toys that most of these jokers are running around with.
Another observation that is related to the first one.
I hang out with a decidedly blue collar crowd. Cops, prison guards, truckers, electricians, plumbers, factory workers, warehouse workers, beer delivery guys, and the like.
Now most of these guys are great, and they are hard working and dedicated and true blue down to the bone. And I love them for it.
Yet there's some of them who piss me off. Now here's where I get pissed. Given the current economic climate there aren't a lot of jobs out there. And for every job that is open currently, there are 6 workers chasing it. (Heard that on MSNBC)
So its tough out there. If you haven't got a job, you are probably going to have to do some serious "crow eating" in order to get one. In other words, swallow your pride and get a job.
Another sentence I heard out of a guys mouth, "I won't take that job, they only pay $12 an hour!"
To which I replied, "How much you making now?"
"Last time I checked, twelve is twelve more than nothing!"
After which, he promptly stomped off and mumbled something about me under his breath.
Every time I see these guys, or hear about the employment situation on the news, or hear about it at work, or in a bar, or wherever, my brain rockets back to Waza Khwa Afghanistan. I see that kid (the one I gave the $20 to) and I remember him coming to the gate every single day. Not looking for a handout but asking if there was any work he could do for us. Kid couldn't have been more than 14, if that. But he showed up every day looking for work. Every single damn day!
Sure, if you lose your job that sucks. But embrace it and get on with your life. Get a new job, try a new field, take a lower paying job, do whatever you have to do to make money. Beggars cannot be choosers. Get off your ass, get out there and do something! There is nothing beneath anyone.
Any legal labor for which someone is willing to give you money is an honorable profession. Hey, if you are really hard up, join the Army. They're always looking for people.
Working for slave wages, to me, is better than sitting on your ass and collecting your government cheese. All that makes you is a dependent little nothing, who can't live unless your Uncle supports you. (Get it, "Uncle" Sam)
But that is an entirely different rant.
Moving on, my last observation for today will be this...
Why is it, that so many people feel the need to thank me for what I just did this past year? People I don't know, people I meet, pretty much everyone. Will talk to me and find out that I was in Afghanistan and then inevitably the next sentence is, "Well thank you so very much for what you did for us. I know a lot of people say it, but I really mean it."
I have to say though, the look on the guys face when I asked him, "What you think everyone else was just bullshitting me?"
Uh, well, I don't, Well, what I meant was...and on like that he went.
Until I let him off the hook and told him I was just kidding.
Now the thanks don't really bother me. I appreciate them. I am just trying to understand why people feel the need to come over and talk to me when they don't even know who I am. But I usually get a free beer or two out of the deal so its not all bad.
Now here's something that only guys have said to me. And this really does, PISS ME OFF!!!
I've probably imagined myself pummeling about 10 guys in my time since getting home when they come up to me and after exchanging pleasantries and accepting their thanks they say something to the effect of...
(If its an old guy) Yeah when I was younger I thought about joining the service. But it didn't work out because
A. I met a girl
B. I got a girl pregnant
C. They wouldn't take me
D. There was no war going on (am I the only one who thinks that "because there is a war going on" has got to be the dumbest reason ever to join the military?)
E. Or any number of other random reasons
(If its a young guy) I wanted to join the military but...
A. I've got a girlfriend
B. I've got kids
C. I couldn't leave my family
D. I got stoned too much and failed the drug test
E. My (insert ailment here) won't get past the medical test
F. Or any number of other random resons
Its not that I want to pummel them for not having joined the military. I couldn't care any less about that than I already do. What I want to beat their asses for is their almost pathological need to explain themselves to me. I'm going to paraphrase Jack Nicholson here and say, I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain anything to anyone for any reason. Enough said. Besides my opinion of people who don't join the military is pretty neutral, well maybe not. I'd have to say that the bumper sticker on my mother's car is an accurate description.
"My son serves, so that yours doesn't have to"
I like that.
Alright, I'm done for now.
I love you Mom...