Saturday, September 1, 2012

Yesterday at therapy. I met a WW2 vet.

Yesterday I was getting my foot worked on at physical therapy and when they sent me to a machine of some sorts the therapist warned me that the old guy on the next machine could be a little cranky.

I had heard the old guy beforehand and I thought he was funny as hell because if you listened to what he was muttering it was funny. The man was a complainer, but in reality he was one of those people that wasn't just a complainer, but a true artist at the fine art of griping. Most of the therapists are women between about 25 and 50 so maybe they just didn't understand the old coot.

The man looked like he was in his early eighties but I was to later find out he was ninety. I also noticed that when he came in he was wearing a WW2 ball cap with jump wings on it. I knew just how to fix this guy.

The therapist came by and told him to do thirty of these pull exercises. I interrupted.

"This man is a U.S. paratrooper. He has to give you thirty and then do one for the airborne," I said.

"I'm not a paratrooper," said the old man.

"I saw your hat and I don't see you layin' in no pine box. You're still a paratrooper. You still gotta do one for the airborne," I said.

"Hmmph." said the old man. "Bet you were a sergeant."

I confessed that at one time I wore three stripes on my sleeve and when I did he snorted.

"I'm not taking orders from any sergeant anymore, especially one as wet behind the ears as you!" he snappped back. "I got out almost seventy years ago! As a first lieutenant, too!"

He had taken the bait and at this point I was treated to one of the best old man rants I have heard since I was a kid and an old WW1 vet griped about having to march in a Memorial Day parade.

"Sergeants!" he snorted. "My whole time in the service it was sergeants that made my life miserable. I went to basic and sergeants kicked me out of bed every morning and like to kill me every damned day until I got done with basic. Then I thought I'd like a little more money so I went to paratrooper school and then it was more sergeants. I had some college so I found out I could become an officer so I went to officer school and I'll be damned but officer school was run by sergeants. They made my life miserable."

"When I got overseas they put me in charge of a platoon but the captain told me to let the sergeants run the show. Then I got hit in Holland and more damned sergeants worked in the hospital and made me do exercised that hurt worse than it did when I got hit. The bastards. The oonly thing I got for being a lieutenant was that they had to call me 'sir' when they told me what to do."

"Then when I got discharged it was held up two days because some damned sergeant noticed my shots were not up to date and I was supposed to shoot at the rifle range. I went to the rifle range after they stuck me in the ass with about a dozen dull needles. When I got my papers it was too late to find a room because they were all taken so I had to sleep on a park bench like a goddamned bum!"

"Yeah? Well ya stil gotta do one extra for the airborne!" I shot back.


Then the treat came as he started his exercises. The whole time he muttered, mumbled and grumbled things about the army in general and sergeants in specific and how there was no justice in this world until he got to his thirtieth. The man was simply hilarious. I had a very hard time keeping a straight face. Then he stopped and said, "Hey, you!"

I turned.

He pulled the elastic and looked at me. "One for the airborne. You happy now?"

"That's more like it," I said.

I had finished my exercises and we both went to seperate areas. My therapist looked at me agape.

"What did you say to him?" she asked.

"Ya just gotta speak the language. Betcha he gives you a pretty good workout today and I'll bet you he gripes the entire time."

She shook her head.

A minute later I looked around and there was the old goat pulling away on some other elastic device for all he was worth. He was griping and bellyaching the whole time. I turned to what I was doing and smirked. A couple of minutes I heard someone say, "Hey, Mac!"

I turned to where the old man was. He pulled once more. "One for the airborne. You happy now, sergeant?" The tone of voice as he said the word 'sergeant was a real sneer. I had one hell of a time keeping from laughing.

"Yes, sir. You did just fine," I answered.

He had a few more exercises to do and repeated the process, sneering at me every time. Then he left.

He made my day.

I grinned.

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1 comment:

  1. Made my morning reading this!