The Bright Side?

You’re supposed to look on the bright side. Sure, you’re in the military still and Donald Trump is going to be president; sure, you do have to work the detail for his inauguration and miss the first week of school; sure, it might have been eight degrees when you were hurrying up and waiting outside this morning, but hey, look on the bright side.

At least you’re a medic. You fix people (except yourself). You’re good at it too, and you enjoy it. You have several medics under you, smart guys whose company and conversation you enjoy. You are not currently lodging with your least favorite people, and, most of these motherfuckers don’t snore. You’ve sidestepped and juked and crossed over and stiff armed unwanted political talk so much–because you’re tall enough to see both sides of the fence; the army side ain’t pretty–that no one will try to tell you how much they hate hippies again for the next few weeks. Sure, you’re tired, but, and this is a big but, you’re training indoors! Whooo! Motherfucker yes. An indoor sports complex is at your unit’s disposal for riot control training and you’ve trained your ears to ignore or stomp out sidebars about wanting to maim Hillary supporters and what have you.

You’re relaxed.

There’s even a concessions stand! Awe yea son, that diarrhea from shelf stable meal packets, that bumblebee tuna in barbecue sauce with the tortillas where the only thing good inside is the fruit roll up (if you even get one) is no longer for you. You are fine dining. Hot dogs and slices of pizza. By no means the best hot dogs or pizza you’ve had but how could you even think such thoughts at this moment you ungrateful piece of shit? So you eat three hot dogs on your five minute break at ten o’clock; you’ve been up for six hours, ravenously hungry and you’re afraid they’ll run out. You’ve seen how army dudes get when the gut truck rolls up to an MRE filled range. You know. You’re ready.

What you’re not ready for, in your artificially enhanced mood, is what happens next. A group of privates walks up to the concessions stand and one says–to the adorable girl with the yoga pants behind the counter, who is too young, whether literally or mentally to really flirt with, but reminds you of Deanna in the writing center who you’ve offered to adopt–“hey, lemme get a slice of pizza.” Now, at this point she is hustling because there’s a line, a mob let’s say, of soldiers waiting or food. There isn’t anymore pizza, and the private can see that. His tone–in it’s agitation–suggests not only that he understands that there is no pizza, but that he feels entitled to the ghost of pizza past and, that he is, above all, a complete dickhead.

What you wanted him to say was (after she’d turned around to take his order): “excuse me, will you be getting in any more pizza later?” Or maybe order something else, or whatever. It’s all about the approach. Another employee, after dropping his cell phone says, “Yea, we’ll have pizza in about ten minutes,” answering the question that the private should have asked, while sporting a lovely mean mug. The yoga girl is uncomfortable, but used to it, as shown by her continuing to work and just lowering her head, making herself smaller, when she speaks to the next person in line.

The private is angry, mumbling things like, “how they ain’t gonna have no more fuckin pizza,” and is about to speak again, so you ask him–at an eight inch rising slope from the top of his head, “who the fuck are you talking to private?” You forget that you’re attached to a different troop where you know no one and no one knows you. When the private locks up, you don’t feel proud like many of the army bros you despise would; you feel kind of bad that he’s afraid of you. He doesn’t say anything else, and neither do you.


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