Last night, Mary and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary by going out to dinner. It wasn’t anything fancy mind you, jus’ a place where we could sit, be waited on and enjoy a good meal.
Our server was excellent. He was engaging and even had water right there even before Mary asked which rarely happens anymore.
As we were ordering, my OCD got the best of me and I had to interrupt him. I pointed out that his name tag was upside down, making it difficult to read.
He immediately stopped what he was doing and fixed it – which made me feel better. As he did he explained that he thought he had lost it because he couldn’t find it before leaving home. However, he discovered it in his locker when he got to work and quickly pinned it on without checking himself in the mirror.
There it was – a trigger to an old memory that really has no bearing anywhere other than to say it happened. The word ‘mirror,’ did it for me.
It was late-summer 1979 and I was in the U.S. Air Force at the time. My office was near the front entrance of the Warren Hospital in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Why I was walking back to my office from the Flight Surgeons’ office, I don’t recall. But what I do remember is seeing my commanding officer seriously eyeballing-balling a Staff Sergeant who had jus’ come in out of the rain.
He had removed his rain coat and was simply standing in the foyer, looking lost. I intercepted him before Captain Covill could say anything to him.
“Ah, there you are,” I stated loudly, “come with me.”
The sergeant’s face crumpled into a serious state of puzzlement as he followed me into my office and into the interior room that wasn’t being used at the moment.
“Do I know you?” he asked.
“No,” I answered, “but my CO was getting ready to jump your ass because your name tag is on the wrong side.”
He looked down at his right pocket then to his left and exclaimed, “Oh shit!”
Without any prompting he began removing the tag to correct the problem. I could see his hands shaking uncontrollably as he fumbled with his shirt buttons, so I stepped up to help.
We got the situation corrected in no time and as we did he explained, “My wife is here, having our first child and I’m a little lost this morning.”
“No problem, Sarge,” I smiled, “I’ll escort you to the maternity ward once you’re buttoned up and ready.”
As we walked down the hallway to the ward, I could feel Covill’s hard stare burning a hole into me. I smiled all the way.