God bless the 1%
I’ve never really put much thought into this very real life truism, but men and women are totally different. Maybe some of my obliviousness comes from the fact that for the first ten years of my life my best friends were my brother and my two boy cousins. Oh, I was all girl, but I did a pretty good job of keeping up with the guys. Maybe I was clueless not noticing any major differences in our thinking. They were just my buddies. This trend continued with all my guy friends throughout high school and college.
As I grew up and married the love of my life, I began to realize there really are some distinct differences between our thinking. Honestly, I cringe internally at men bashing when I hear it. Even though there are times when my sweetie drives me crazy, I am EQUALLY sure that is a two-way street.
This summer, an event with my guy taught me a valuable lesson, one I had never before entertained.
Losing a man’s respect is probably the worst thing another man can do.
A very painful experience left my husband disappointed by people. My daddy even noticed it, mentioning it to me in our most recent phone conversation. “He is about the most laid back guy around. This really upset him. I had never seen him worked up like that before.” My dad’s witness came to bear when we were all vacationing together, the coastal Florida life.
It was on our final night on the island a chance encounter happened which restored some of my sweetie’s belief in humanity. With such a large group traveling together, we made most of our meals at the beach house and chose to splurge on a few local hotspots. One of those favorites was dining at a restaurant that sits at the end of a busy city pier. Along the edges of the long walk out to the café are countless fishermen reeling in the evening’s catch.
After enjoying some amazing grouper meals, we began to meander back to the shore. My husband, an avid fisherman and hunter, couldn’t resist asking the locals what was biting. One gentleman was more than happy to visit. Looking back now, I feel that his spot on that pier was divine intervention.
He shared he was hoping for tarpon as it was the season for them, but instead he had snagged a baby shark (which are plentiful on the island). Our kids were now entranced by his every word. Sally asked what he did with the shark. He was an ethical fisherman, and he explained that the two foot shark had a bit down pretty hard and was not able to be saved. Of course, everyone wanted to see the shark.
“Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventure” became a real theme this evening as our littlest peppered him with questions.
What are you going to do with the shark?
I will eat him. I took him; so, now I have to eat him. Some people would throw him back but that isn’t the right thing to do.
Well, how in the world do you cook shark?
After I fillet him, I will make shark nuggets and fry them in some oil. My family and I will enjoy him. I just got back home and this will be a good meal for us.
The entire time this conversation was going on, the gentleman was still fishing on the edges of the illuminated pier. One look at him with the larger than life musculature and military haircut gave me a pretty good idea where he just returned from to get home.
I asked him if he was in the military. In true Southern fashion, an audible “yes ma’am” confirmed what my heart already knew. He explained that he was home after his fourth tour in Iraq. Without skipping a beat, I thanked him for his service, explaining my gratitude was coming from the heart of a veteran’s wife.
Fielding questions on what’s biting didn’t hold the same reverence as embracing a fellow soldier. Putting down his fishing pole and stepping up the higher level of the pier, he stuck out his hand and asked my husband where he had served. A quick exchange of service details emerged, both mutually thanking the other for their willingness to answer freedom’s call.
As we were ready to head on back, the soldier at the pier had one final parting utterance.
Thank you, my brother, for being part of the 1 percent! We are an elite group.*
I don’t know that soldier’s story, but I do know my mine. Joining the Army National Guard as a way to help with paying for college, he was only eighteen years old, the same age as our Boy Wonder, when Uncle Sam needed his help halfway around the world to defend freedom. He served one tour, which he rarely speaks about unless it is to share a story of camaraderie among the troops. His patriotism is unparalleled, and even though he has voluntarily left the military, he would serve again if his country asked him.
His trust broken, just a few weeks previous, left an indelible mark, but the soldier on the pier reminded him and all of us the words honor and duty and respect are alive and well. Real men who embody real ideals met for one brief moment on the edge of a pier; their happenstance encounter restoring some of what had been lost.
We learned in the exchange the fisherman would soon be returning for another tour, and wherever he is we pray that God keeps him safe. And hopefully, he knows how much we appreciate his willingness to be the one percent allowing us all to sleep in peace at night!
*Only one percent of the American population has ever served in active combat.