Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Come and get it!

I was sitting on my couch last night, doing a Sudoku (which I can do better than I can pronounce) sort of half-watching the previous night's episode of "Family Guy" when Gary Sinise came on during a commercial break and told me that Golden Corral was offering all veterans a free dinner on November 17th. Since it was Monday and I was going to watch "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles", my brain was already set to deal with time travel conundrums. So it didn't take that long to figure out the dinner historic Gary Sinise was predicting would take place in the future was actually taking place during the current present! Free meal! All I have to do is get off my ass and go get it. Hmmm, well, ok.
Now, when I was in the army I was fortunate enough to not have to fight in any wars. The closest I ever came was the time we were put on alert for a few hours and then found out they decided to send troops from another division to invade Grenada instead. Well, that and the times we got lost and accidentally came within a few kilometers of the border between the two Germanys. Some people have a very narrow definition of what qualifies someone as a "veteran" and I respect that. But I didn't want to waste a drive so I called the local Golden Corral to see what the qualifications were and what credentials I needed to bring. I was told, "Anything. Wear a uniform. Military documents. Military insignia. A picture. Anything." Cool. I have anything! I'm in! I dug out my DD-214 and headed out.
I should state for the record that I'm not really a big fan of buffet restaurants. One Of The Wisest People I Know believes there is something fundamentally not right about a restaurant where you line up at a trough. As in most cases, I agree with her and Golden Corral is probably not a place I would normally choose to eat dinner. It's also my experience that a surprisingly high percentage of the population has a great degree of difficulty operating exotic utensils like tongs and ladles and when they get frustrated, they give up and use their fingers. Nothing kills your appetite faster than the notion that the ham steak on your plate has already been felt up by somebody else's grubby little digits. Which I guess is good, since the biggest problem is there's just too much damn food on a buffet. I don't care how good the pot roast is, three helpings of it washed down with a hot fudge sundae is not a good idea. However, Golden Corral deserves props for doing something nice (FREE MEAL) for veterans. And paying (FREE) tribute (COMPLIMENTARY) after (GRATIS) the official holiday is a nice touch.
When I got there, I saw a line out the door around the building. I thought, you have got to be kidding me. I instantly flashed back to my most unpleasant memories of of my time in the service. As I said, I never saw combat so for me, post traumatic stress is tied to standing in line. the term "hurry up and wait" was invented by the military, where everything is structured on a precise schedule that involves getting as many people to a location at a specific time so they can stand there and wait for something to happen. You stand in line and wait for everything. Haircuts. Telephone. Paycheck. And food. As irrationally impatient as I am, this was easily the most difficult aspect of military service for me. If I had been in combat and were ever captured by the enemy, all they'd have to do is put me at the end of a slow moving line for something and I'd have sung like a canary. I'd reveal secrets I didn't even have. No other torture necessary. Since then, I do whatever I can to avoid being in situations where I have to wait in line. As a result, thanks (sincerely) Golden Corral, but no thank you. I hope the people who did wait in line enjoyed it (with a minimum of ham fondling) because they certainly deserve it.

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