This post is essentially copypasta from a comment I made over at Facebook, with a little embellishment.
One of my friends is a bus driver in San Francisco, and he posted this little exchange:
And I thought this was very interesting, and I started thinking about it. (A dangerous pasttime.)
A lot of things have combined over the last decade, including the political Chernobyl of the Dildo Braggins-MAGA era, the pandemic, and my long-awaited retirement. All of these things, but most especially leaving the workforce, has made me keenly aware that just about everyone I interact with these days is serving me in some way. All of them are out there busting their chops to buy food and pay rent and afford daycare, and every person I encounter in public from the gal behind the car rental counter to the fella bagging my groceries is serving my needs. Me. If they weren’t there doing the wage-slave tango, I’d have more to do than I could handle, and a lot of stuff I needed simply wouldn’t get done, and a lot of stuff I wanted would simply not be available.
For a long time, even before this gentle epiphany, I have been in the habit of thanking service veterans for their sacrifices for our nation. Now, Jim Wright over at Stonekettle Station – a veteran himself – wrote an interesting essay on this subject, and while I understand and appreciate his point of view, I am grateful for their service. I lotteried out of the draft in 1972, and thus never had the obligation of either being shipped off to ‘Nam or joining the Navy; half of me is grateful, and the other half wistful that I didn’t have the chance of serving my country in that way. So when I see one of these hats or one like it,
I make sure to tell the wearer that I appreciate what they did for all of us.
By extension, I’ve made it a little personal habit to tell people I encounter in the course of the day, “… and thanks for being here for us.”¹ I don’t do it to feel wholesome, I do it because I mean it from the bottom of my heart. Oddly enough, most of them don’t know how to handle this and I get a lot of bluescreen moments. But I mean it sincerely and somehow it seems indecent not to say something. Perhaps, at the very least, it brings a bit of warmth to someone’s otherwise dreary or retail-hell day.
The Old Wolf has spoken.
¹ Yes, even cops. These folks usually get “Thanks for keeping us all safe.” While there are far too many problems with bad peace officers and bad police procedures in our nation, I don’t ascribe to the reddit/Imgur ACAB-echo chamber and I’d rather err on the side of decency than resentment.