Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Vietnam Vet

Something I found in my notebook. Sept. 2008?

I see this guy on the subway wearing a Vietnam Vet hat. Who knows if he was actually in Vietnam, but he's definitely the right age to be. Anyway, he's a bit drunk, mumbly, and he's pointing at everyone and yelling, mostly the young folk. He's saying stuff like we've never fought for anything in our lives, and we're just a bunch of spoiled, ungrateful shits. Pretty standard stuff. So I smirk at him, and he comes over.

"You think I'm funny, Boy?"

I put my head down and look away. I do think he's funny, but it's clearly not the time to show it.

"You're just another spoiled shit, aren't you? You get anything you want, don't you?"

And now I'm getting upset. Granted, I'm sure this guy has had a hard life, and if he actually did serve in Vietnam then I'm sure he's done and seen things I don't even want to think about, but for him to make assumptions about a complete stranger, whether it's me or anyone else, is a load of bull shit.

And then he leans in close. Real, real close.

"I bet you haven't seen a thing in this world, Boy. This whole god damned world...I bet you can't even imagine half the shit I've done for you."

I pause. We're both waiting for me to speak. I then slowly tilt my head up and stare at him. I want to tell him off, let my tongue run wild, but oddly enough his words are starting to sink in, somewhere I don't even know exists, and I just sit there.

"Thank you," I say. "Really, thank you."

And there's a pause. The guy stands there, a bit wobbly on his feet. I can tell he wants to keep yelling, to prove something to me and my entire generation, but instead he walks over to a seat and collapses down. Then he lowers his Vietnam Vet hat over his eyes and he's done.

Now I'm still for a while, just staring at the guy. I don't know what to think anymore. Is he the confused one, or is it me? Regardless, one thing's obvious, all he wanted was to be thanked. Pretty simple stuff. I guess at the end of the day that's all anyone wants.

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