Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Right this way miss . . . "

Albany NY 2010 09 14 003

This week I went to Albany New York, but I really didn’t do anything much to talk about. As is usual, I had to get up at 4 AM to get ready and to get out of the house before everyone else is up and running. Since my flight didn’t leave until late morning I went ahead and went do Denny’s for breakfast again.

The waitress was fine, don’t get me wrong, but she way over did the “miss” thing.
“Right this way miss”
“Are you ready to order miss?”
“Do you want cream with the coffee miss?”
“Are you ready to order miss?”
“Is everything OK miss?”
She literally didn’t say a single thing to me with out tossing in the word “miss”. While her heart was in the right place, I think I’d rather have a grumpy old waitress that treated me exactly like she treats everyone else. You know, the type that walks up and asks “Yeah, what the hell do you wanna eat today?!”

Sitting in the Atlanta airport waiting for my connecting flight, I was watching people exiting the airplane that I would soon be boarding. One of them was an older African American woman wearing a royal blue skirt suite and the biggest and most elaborate hat I have ever seen. She was walking tall and proud and I just couldn’t help smiling as she walked by, thinking that here is a woman that knows how to make a fashion statement. As I watched her walk by, I noticed a young African American man sitting across from me. He is grinning at me as I was grinning at her.  I’m not sure if he was tickled by my reaction to the woman, or if he had “made” me. Either way, we both ended up grinning at each other. Funny – not a word was spoken but I felt like we had shared a conversation.

On the flight from Atlanta to Albany, I sat next to an older guy with a cane. He surprised me when he laughed and then pointed at the book I was reading: “The War After Armageddon”
“Is that written by Ralph Peters?” he asked. I had no idea who the author was and so closed it to see.
“I guess it is.” I told him with a smile, but still having no idea why he found that amusing.
“The Ralph Peters that was in the Army?” he asked. Again, I had no idea, and so turned to the back of the novel to see if it had an “about the author” page. It did, and he had indeed retired from the US Army.
“Yep, it looks like he’s your guy.” I told him.
“We were room mates and I knew him well. Good man but a little full of himself. He had a nasty habit of telling generals that he thought they were doing it all wrong.”
“By the time they achieve the rank of “General”, I think they’re pretty sure they have a clue and so sort of frown on that kind of thing.” I replied with a laugh. “I’ve got to tell you though, It really IS a good book!”
“I don’t doubt it. He started writing professionally even before he retired.” He replied. We talked a bit more, and it turns out that he had also retired from the Army but still worked in defense.
Later in the flight I had to ask him to let me up so that I could use the bathroom, and he moved slowly and awkwardly. When he finally got up, he looked at me apologetically.
“Sorry about that, but my leg is almost entirely titanium and so I’m a bit slow these days.”
“Nothing to apologize for sir. I feel guilty for asking you to stand up at all, but I’m kind of clumsy didn’t want to risk stepping on your foot.”
When I returned to my seat, he stayed seated and I worked my way around him. Once settled, I pointed at his bum leg.
“If you don’t mind my asking, is that the reason you retired?”
“Yes it is.” He said with a smile. “One day I stepped in the wrong place and found a land mine. You might say I was having kind of a bad day.” He said with a grin. He was trying to make light of it, so I grinned back at him.
“Yeah, I guess that would qualify as a pretty bad day at that, wouldn’t it.”
When the plane had landed and we were gathering our things, I stopped to talk to him again.
“For what little it may be worth to you, thank you for serving our country.”
I don’t recall him replying, but I couldn’t help noticing that cane and all, the man was making better time up the ramp than I was. After so many years in the Army, I tend to walk faster than most people, and so for some reason that really impressed me.

I have no idea why, but I spent the entire rest of my trip depressed and in a funk, so I didn’t bother getting pretty after work nor for the flight home. Of course that probably worked in my favor as my first flight was delayed, thus causing me to miss my second flight. By the time today is over, it will be another 20 hour day.

Oh, just got word that my soon to be daughter-in-law was in an accident and the van my son got just before he left for basic training is wrecked. At least now I have a good reason to be depressed . . .

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