The meaning behind Memorial Day is often overshadowed by excitement for weekend vacations, barbecues and beach days. This year, take time to honor the men and women that have lost their lives serving in the armed forces.
Honor fallen heroes by volunteering at a veterans cemetery on Memorial Day or any time of year. Volunteers can give cemetery tours, help with maintenance, raise and lower flags and more. Use the National Cemetery Administration website to find a volunteer opportunity near you.
I remember when I worked at the gas station. You may not know it, but a gas station attendant is a bit like a bartender. If a customer can carry on a conversation, that attendant is happy to speak with you for an hour. It will be a welcome distraction.
And that attendant will see to it that someone in need is attended to. Perhaps it's a college girl away from home at night and she's run out of gas and she has no money. Or maybe someone's car has got a loose power steering belt. I've got a drawer full of screwdrivers and wrenches. We can fix that car well enough to get you on your way.
A guy walks in one day, a guy with a limp, and he slurs a little bit when he speaks. I didn't have to be a mindreader to know that he was a veteran.
He had lost his wallet and he needed gas to get to Burlington. I said, "Hold on a sec."
And I turned to the gaggle of geniuses that hang out at the gas station. They weigh in on the world's problems each morning and solve each and every one of them by their third cup of coffee. And they all have big shiny trucks with 'merican flags on 'em. They're defennin' freedom all day long. Can't you see? It says so right there.
I called out, "Excuse me, guys. I have a veteran here who needs to get home to Burlington and he's lost his wallet. Do any of you now have, or have any of you in the past had, an 'I Support the Troops' bumper sticker on your truck? If so, this veteran needs a tank of gas."
And they all looked at each other and looked at their shoes and they reached for their wallets. Like magic!
Would you like to know why I quit the gas station job, by the way? One of these geniuses, a guy with five teeth and a rat on his upper lip, sees me vacuuming the area rug in front of the checkout counter. I like to keep a clean workplace. So he saunters over and looks me up and down and says, "Huh. You do a good job. You'll make someone a, uh, nice wife someday." And he gives me a funny look.
Now, I've been waiting on this idiot woodchuck for four years. And I make so secret of the fact that I like to, uh, "keep a clean house." It's taken him fours years to do the high-level mathematics in his woodchuck brain and finally figure me out?
It's almost like he thought he had something on me!
And after he left, I just sort of cocked my head and stared into mid-space and thought, "Chris, why do you insist on permitting idiots into your life?"
So I took the store key off my keyring and clicked it down on the counter and called the boss.
It's too bad because I absolutely loved some of my customers and the boss was one of the best I'd worked for. But enough's enough sometimes.