PLEASE, DON'T INSULT ME |
October 06, 2006
PLEASE, DON'T INSULT ME
Posting date: 10/8/06
Name: Army Girl
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog url: http://desertphoenix.blogspot.com/
There's something that's been weighing on my mind recently. On my way back from leave, in the airport in Atlanta, the airlines directed me towards the VIP section, where they check your bags and send you through the metal detectors. I picked an off-time to go through the line to the gates and found myself the only soldier among a great number of business travelers. A gentleman next to me asked me a few questions about where I was going, and if I was regular Army or Reserve. I answered his questions but made it a point to let him know that I had volunteered for this tour and I wasn't one of the Reserve soldiers he had to feel sympathetic towards. I didn't get called up. I chose to go.
He thanked me a few times for my service and I said the inadequate "Thank you" over and over again. After the seconds began to creep by in slow motion, the line finally began to move. The man reached out his hand and said, "At least let me buy your last dinner before you go back." A million things went through my head. I really wanted to be alone and not talk to anyone. I didn't want to answer any questions and I was worried that he may have ulterior motives. Was he a reporter? Was he hitting on me? Was he just curious about the state of affairs in AF?
I shook his hand, and in his palm I felt paper. I looked down and saw that he'd given me $10. I attempted to explain profusely that I couldn't accept his money, and that I was very flattered but I just couldn't allow him to do that. He kept telling me to take it, and finally said, "Please, don't insult me…" and walked away.
I felt humiliated and embarrassed. I wasn't there for charity. I don't serve in the military to get freebies. I know my face turned bright red and I just kept my head down after that. I walked to the train, and scanned the crowd for him. I saw him amidst the other passengers but didn't want to confront him again in front of a group of people. The train was packed. He got off at the terminal before mine, and as he walked off the train he said, "Come back to us, safe and sound. Take care of yourself, soldier."
Moments later, I searched for my gate and found the nearest ladies' room. I pulled the bill out of my pocket and saw that it was not $10. It was a $100 bill. My mouth dropped. I could not believe that man had given me $100! I certainly didn't need that much for dinner at the airport! I was overcome with a sense of shame and wonder. Ashamed that I still had the money and wasn't able to give it back, and yet I wondered why, who and what the heck?!
So I still have the $100. Today, I spoke with the JAG office (Judge Advocate General) and they told me to document the incident and I would be okay. I'm going to do that, then donate the money to the Army Emergency Relief Fund. It's an organization that assists soldiers and their families in time of need. I wish I could keep it forever because of what it symbolizes to me. But I know it will be worth more as food on a soldier's table or diapers for an Army baby. I've never had to use AER funds, but I know of soldiers who have.