Yesterday, I attended the 1-178th Battalion Family Readiness Group meeting in Clinton, SC. The topic was “reunification” with your soldier.
While the topic was an exciting prospect, the meeting was interesting for other reasons.
I guess the best place to start this story is at the beginning, so here goes:
A very good friend of mine from high school also has a husband deployed with the 1-178th. She lives close by… so we decided to carpool to this historic event and enjoy each other’s company. In preparation for the trip the week before, I enlisted the help of my children to clean out “Big Red” and make it presentable for company. Anyone that has a car that kids ride in on a regular basis knows that a “clean out” is a necessary step before inviting company for a spin…otherwise, riders will discover what a fossilized chicken nugget actually looks like, their clothes will be covered in Cheetos Dust, and /or they will have the “opportunity” to smell Tuck’s sneaker that has been missing under the seat since last July.
In short, “Big Red” was shiny, “somewhat clean” and gassed up for a road trip…. but, I digress. The real “meat” of this story is the actual FRG meeting.
When Amy and I walked into the room, there were 2 tables available for seating. One table was front and center and the other was tucked away in the back corner in the shadows. Of course, human nature prompts you to sit out of the spotlight, so we made our way to the back of the room to enjoy a backseat view. Little did we know, this table was hitched to the “crazy” train.
As the meeting started, a “nice” older (90 something) veteran was rolled up to our table in a wheelchair. We exchanged polite smiles and focused our attention on the meeting.
The agenda for the meeting looked long and I can assure you…it felt it too. I hate to say it, but PowerPoint has killed any “fun” that could possibly be found while sitting in an uncomfortable plastic chair for hours on end. As a result, attendees are forced to find their own entertainment within the constraints of acceptable social behavior. Amy and I have a history of enduring endless educational events, after all we took Algebra I, II, and Geometry together in high school…so it made sense that we would revert back to some of our former “coping” strategies (i.e. note writing and dry wit whispered in ear shot). More on that… but, for the moment…
Here are a few nuggets we gleaned from the briefing:
1. On the list of top things military spouses worry about during a deployment, death and dismemberment was listed 6th…you should have seen numbers 1-5. What an eye-opener!
2. I found out that I should refer to Chris as a “warrior” instead of a soldier. I kind of like the sound of that…it’s a bit macho and would definitely stroke his ego.
3. I’m not allowed to let Chris drive home from the airport. Apparently, Humvee’s have the ability to run over things, clear traffic jams and are equipped with heavy artillery….some soldiers have returned home and used these “new-found driving skills” on the interstate. I was intrigued… I’m thinking…we can outfit “Big Red” like this…. then carpool line at the middle school would no longer be a problem. As Grandmama Rebecca used to holler in her Buick as we illegally crossed 4 lanes of traffic, “Don’t worry kids, they see me!!!” ….Just a sidenote….if you see Chris on the highway in his Prius…WATCH OUT!
4. I won the door prize…which was some flavorful body wash. Personally, I think the door prize for a military spouse should have been “Calgon” with some schnapps and a babysitter. I’m not ungrateful, I just think the “extras” would have been a nice touch.
5. I learned a new vocabulary word. One speaker was talking and I believe she was referring to the word “Bureaucracy,” but every time she said it…the word came out sounding like “Barackacy.” She kept saying that the “barackacy” was holding us back. I AGREE! … No doubt, “Barackacy” is bankrupting our country.
Well, as you can imagine….”barackacy” sent me over the edge. Amy and I were tired, punchy and probably too giddy over our new vocabulary word (We both have a love of learning)…we started laughing…which in turn “awoke” our 90 something year-old table neighbor. It wasn’t pretty. He turned and looked at Amy and started yelling…”What are you writing down ?!?”… we both exchanged a worried glance…then… he starts shouting to the crowd…”Who are you people?!?”….”Can anybody tell me why the hell I’m here?!?”…”Who brought me here?!?”… “Why are you people in my house?!?”… While I am assuming this sweet man was a little confused, I have to admit…if it had been socially acceptable…I would have joined him in his tirade…we all wanted to say the same things, but instead chose to write it on a note.
Which gets me thinking….
What about the “Barackacy”?!? Why remain silent? Passing notes doesn’t garner the same attention as an outburst. A good “shout out” can be the “Humvee” of a traffic jam or in our case….the conclusion to a meeting that never seems to end. Unfortunately…when you choose the “Humvee” approach, you often get rolled out of the room. Even so, while they are rolling you away…folks will say, “That fella is not just a soldier, he’s a warrior!”
Calgon…take me away!… I’m not going to wait until I’m 90 to call something “Barackacy” when I see it!
I challenge you to do the same.