Saturday, June 23, 2007

Don't Mess With an Ex-Marine

This morning while I was having coffee with my mom and reading the newspaper, I came across a story about a Georgia man who'd gone camping with his three sons. A black bear entered their campsite and started to make off with their cooler. When the 6-year-old threw a shovel at the retreating bear, its focus shifted to the child. Not waiting for the bear to charge, the father picked up a log from the campfire.

"(I) threw it at it and it happened to hit the bear in the head," Chris Everhart said. "I thought it just knocked it out but it actually ended up killing the bear." (Associated Press,

This wasn't your ordinary dad. He's an ex-marine.

Most dads would have been lucky to hit the bear anywhere, if they'd been able to think and act with lightening speed as Chris Everhart did. His lethal reaction makes me feel proud. It's the warrior spirit that lives in my heart.

I'm waiting, waiting for the DVD release of "300", so to keep me from going out of my mind, my husband brought home a History channel documentary, "The Last Stand of the 300". As we watched the Battle of Thermopylae take shape through the show, as we were shown the harsh, unforgiving warrior culture that was Sparta, my mind kept returning to the ex-marines among us.

It reminded me of another news item from February, where a group of three armed robbers confronted a larger group of Carnival cruise ship tourists on a walking tour in San Jose, Costa Rica. The tourists were seniors from the US, and the 20-year-old with the gun likely thought he was taking candy from babies. Until the geezer next to him suddenly grabbed him into a choke hold and snapped his neck. The would-be robber's body was loaded onto the tour bus by the seniors, where he was handed over to police in Limon. (Reuters, Feb. 23, 2007)

That wasn't an ordinary Carnival cruise vacationing senior. He was an ex-marine.

I know I should be having a different reaction than the one that makes my heart stir at these stories. But I know it's the warrior that lurks beneath my calm exterior. In word and deed, I am a dove. I use diplomacy to diffuse tension whenever I come across it. But I think it's very fitting that I was born on November 11th, the day revered for laying down arms. Because inside of me, my heart belongs to soldiers everywhere, of every time period, of every land.

A little while ago, at my new job at the pension agency, an older man came into the reception area while I was there over the lunch break. He was in no mood to be trifled with. He wanted to see the manager and wanted his long-delayed disability cheque. Ultimately, he had to wait about 15 minutes until this manager returned from her lunch.

My previous job at the live theatre gave me lots of experience dealing with 'do-you-know-who-I-am' types, and I settled the situation down quickly before he could get all worked up. I gave him one option and he knew he'd have to take it. He was an older guy but he was commanding and irritated. He would start trying to talk his way around me but I insisted in my 'I'm-nice-now-but-don't-give-me-trouble' voice. Also, my gaze did all the talking for me, and I saw what I can only describe as recognition in his eyes as he backed off and sat to wait.

Once the manager got there, he told her that I was very good at my job, that I was "guarding the office like a great dane." Then, when she went to get his cheque that had been locked in her desk, he told me he was a retired police officer. I can't tell you how my heart suddenly realized what that look of recognition in his eyes had been. Something inside him had recognized my warrior's spirit. And he'd backed off, knowing he could trust that I wasn't giving him the run-around.

I felt high, all the rest of that day.

It doesn't creep me out that the old guy standing next to me in the post office line-up might know multiple ways of taking out an attacker. It makes me proud. "Semper Fi" - "always faithful". Once a Marine, always a Marine.


Miss Frou Frou said...

Hi, I'm a doofus when it comes to putting links in comments, but something for you at my blog!

toni said...

LOL! I'd say being referred to as a Great Dane is quite a compliment.

Annie said...

Hi, Julia! I wish I could perfect that "I'm nice now, but if you keep it up, I won't be" look; I'd use it on our customers AND my coworkers!

Thanks for stopping by my complaining, I mean, my blog (I do a lot of kvetching, I know!). Sparky and I are old coworkers and friends, and we more or less keep in touch through our blogs, although when I'm on a tear I tend to forget these are public and moan and groan about my life rather than serve up something interesting to read.

And thank you for wishing me well with my thyroid...who knew such a little gland could cause so much dang trouble??

Take care :)

Akelamalu said...

I too have perfected that "I'm nice now..." look - works every time, especially with the grandkids - I never have to raise my voice!

Kelly said...

I'm with you on the warrior spirit, although I don't think anyone would mistake me for a dove. Maybe a crow. If I'm lucky I'd pass for a bald eagle. I'd prefer a hawk but...where was I going with this?