Monday, March 29, 2010

Hello, Prince Charles (and Other Dignitaries)

Apparently when General Stanley McChrystal stopped in at Camp Bastion and spoke to my sister-in-law Jacqui, he'd already heard about the fact that both she and her son Jason were deployed to Afghanistan. He sought her out and asked her about it. She was sure to tell the General, "If you see my son, tell him to write his mother." She really drove that point home, as you can see from the newspaper article referenced in my last post!

Man, she has a great sense of humor. But how else do you survive a war in the middle of a desert far, far away where you can't tell the good Afghans from the Taliban, and you never know if you're going to step on an IED and lose a limb?

Jacqui sent me email later today saying that her son's best Marine buddy Kevin, a machine gunner like Jason, was thrown from his turret when his vehicle struck and IED. His back was severely broken. Kevin was flown from Camp Bastion to Germany immediately for surgery. The good thing is, he still had some feeling in his lower extremities. I'll definitely be saying some prayers for that kid tonight.

Meanwhile, I had no idea that Prince Charles was as old as he looks in these photos. Here he is in Radiology, with my sister-in-law smiling behind him, to the left.

Family in the News!

Yesterday the Florida Times-Union printed an article about my brother Pete's family. It's pretty good, talking about how Pete's wife and son are both deployed to Afghanistan. Here's the link:

Mom’s in the war zone — but so is her son

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Southern Hospitality

I used think that the "southern hospitality" was a myth. Maybe I was living in the wrong part of the South. Either that, or I was just in a bad mood for a really long time.

I've been in Atlanta for four weeks now, and I have to say that I'm blown away by how friendly, outgoing, and approachable people are here. Today I was pumping gas (into my new car) at Costco. There was an SUV adorned with two flying American flags parked in front of me. The little old lady who owned the vehicle looked at my car, then looked at me and asked, "Do you watch TV?"

She proceeded to inform me of a recent news story describing how the static electricity created by getting in and out of the car caused a fire after a woman had gotten back into her car seat after engaging the gas pump. The victim (who was unhurt) failed to discharge the static by touching the door before going back to the pump. (See video here. Also, the full story is here.) In any case, this very sweet woman just wanted me to know about it so that I'd be safe at the pump.

Last night I was following my brother in his car to a local WIT meeting. Being new to the area and not having a navigation system in my car, I usually have a Google map printed out when heading to a new destination. I had the top down on my car. At a stoplight, I'd pulled out my map to see where we were when a woman in the car next to me asked me if I was looking for a particular street. She and her boyfriend, the driver, offered to help me find my way if I was lost!

A couple weeks ago, at the post office, I overheard the female postal worker at the counter casually (and sincerely) call a female customer "Sweetie."

Not to mention, I've had a number of positive interactions in retail businesses here. (Shocking!) I've been shopping for new clothes lately at Macy's, Filene's, Marshall's, and other department stores; 95% of the retail clerks I've come across have reached out to see if I need help. Oh, and they all spoke English. In D.C. there were a number of frustrating experiences where I couldn't communicate with a retail worker because she/he only spoke Spanish. That happened twice at two different Marshall's stores. Who hires people who don't speak English for customer service work?

I did encounter one rather strange individual while car-shopping last week. I'll save that story for another blog post. After all, I need to post pictures of my new, already beloved convertible!