Today's tale is one from the holidays, but, trust me, gentle reader, it's a good 'un.
I got on the Hertz shuttle in Charlotte, and headed for my seat. As is my custom during the winter, I was wearing my Navy-issue peacoat (which, by the way, is about twice as heavy as one of those peacoats that hipsters buy at Sears or whatever ironic store they're ironically shopping at these days).
The following definition was blatantly stolen from Wikipedia:
According to the US Navy: The heavy topcoat worn in cold, miserable weather by seafaring men was once tailored from pilot cloth -- a heavy, coarse, stout kind of twilled blue cloth with the nap on one side. The cloth was sometimes called P-cloth for the initial letter of the word and the garment made from it was called a p-jacket -- later a pea coat. The term has been used since 1723 to denote coats made from that cloth.
I still have my rate* patch on the shoulder, which, technically, legally, officially, I should have cut off years ago, but I figure I earned it, and I wear it with no small amount of pride. A gentleman of a certain age and his lovely wife got on with me, and the following conversation happened:
Gentleman: Are you in the Navy? (re: peacoat)
My Noble Self: Oh, no. Years ago.
G: I recognized that Electronics Technician Third Class patch.
~~ At this point, I was genuinely impressed; almost no one knows what the helium atom on my shoulder designates ~~
Me: Yep! I was actually frocked to second class, but was discharged before changing over all of the patches and stuff.
G: Where did you serve?
Me: I was a nuclear reactor operator on subs out of Groton, CT. Did you serve?
G: I still do, in fact. I'm also a submariner.
(his wife laughs)
Me: Well, thank you for your service, sir! (we shake hands)
G: No, thank you!
Me: I do miss the order of it sometimes, but... I do NOT miss being underwater.
(his wife laughs a little more, and says) He LOVES it. He misses it when he's home!
G: I do!
Me: Well, I'm thankful that you're out there, sir.
G: What do you do now?
Me: I used the GI bill to get a degree in mathematics, and taught high school for a couple of years, and now I'm a computer consultant on a project out in California, though I may be heading to Hawaii at some point.
G: Did you like teaching high school?
Me: I did! I always talked up my service, because, as I told them over and over, it led directly to a college opportunity that vastly improved my life. A lot of my kids went into the service, and I like to think that I gave back a little bit.
G: Well... (he mulls something over in his head) if you ever get out to Hawaii, and you are, you know, looking for apartments or whatever, give me a ring. I'd be happy to help. (he hands me his card)
The card says that he is:
I look at the card, and then slowly look back up to see his wife laughing again, and his eyes twinkle a little in the corners.
G: You just never know who you're going to meet on a rental car shuttle.
I'm leaving out some of the more personal bits, but apparently his daughters go to school in SC, and he and the wife were visiting for the holidays. Truly, honestly, genuinely solid guy.
Cheers to you, sir!
Tomorrow, ADVENTURE!! :)
* Your "rate" in the Navy is the same as your "mos" in the Army; basically, it's just your job. :)