I’ve just returned from the VA Hospital in Sepulveda for an annual. I really like my doctor there and am grateful for her continuity. While waiting to be called, I sat in a semi-circle of other vets, several wearing shirts or caps that identified them as Airborne. Tho I normally do as well, today I had on shorts and a black t-shirt, no cap. I picked a magazine…and then began to overhear a conversation across from me. Two Nam-era vets, taking turns disparaging Obama, then widening their targets to insult Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, pretty much anyone in public life with dark skin. I was the only person of color within earshot.
I suddenly found myself speaking out to them. “You two are so pleased with yourselves, aren’t you? Full of bullshit opinions. How about you vote for Trump, maybe he can take us back to slavery.” After a couple of exchanges, we were soon on the same page, disgusted with the political choices and things in general. And then, exchanging horror stories from combat and gruesome airborne accidents in Vietnam and Grenada, laughing out loud.
See the thing is, it took about 3 minutes for us to find common ground. What astounded me was my initial reaction. I was like a cartoon thermometer; I could literally feel the heat rising in my body up to the top of my head, just before challenging them. I guess that was the surge of adrenaline. Doesn’t happen all that much, nowadays. I really didn’t give a fuck. Damned if I’m willing to listen to such bullshit while I wait for a VA doctor.