27 March 2009

I'm not "the crustybastard" for nothing.

My tenderhearted Beloved forwarded me this email:

The Sack Lunches 

     I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. 'I'm glad I have a good book to read and perhaps I will get a short nap,' I thought.

     Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation. 'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to me. 'Petawawa. We'll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Afghanistan.'

     After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for $5. It would be several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time. As I reached for my wallet, I overheard soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. 

     'No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks.  I'll wait till we get to base.' His friend agreed. I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch. 

     I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a $50 bill. 'Take a lunch to all those soldiers.'  She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me.  'My son was a soldier in  Iraq; it's almost like you are doing it for him.' Picking up 10 sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated.

     She stopped at my seat and asked, 'Which do you like best — beef or chicken?' 'Chicken,' I replied, wondering why she asked. She turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class. 'This is yours with thanks.' 

     After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room. A man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this.' He handed me $25. 

     Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Aircraft Pilot coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane.  When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand, an said, 'I want to shake your hand.' Quickly unfastening my seatbelt I stood and took the Captain's hand. 

     With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.' I was embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers. 

     Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine.  He left another $25 in my palm. 

    When we landed I gathered my belongings and started to deplane. Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word. Another $25! 

     Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base.  I walked over to them and handed them $75. 'It will take you some time to reach the base. It will be about time for a sandwich. God Bless You.' 

    Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers. As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for our country. I could only give them a couple of meals. It seemed so little.

     A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to his country for an amount of 'up to and including my life.' That is Honor, and there are way too many people who no longer understand it.

Tugs the ol' heartstrings, doesn't it? 

Like to the point of...manipulation?  "Gosh, I was just so embarrassed by the other passenger's ovation regarding my boundless generosity — that I wrote a story about what a great guy I am." 

Aw hell, how jaded have I become? 

Just about the right amount, I guess. snopes.com: Sack Lunches. Ugh. That figures. In short: the tale originated in the July edition of Renewed & Ready; Adventist Living for Today magazine, and the writer was thrilled when the guys sat around him so he could proselytize. Meh. From the original:

I always look for an opportunity to share Jesus...Finally 10 soldiers filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. This is more like it! OK, Lord, which one will it be? Who needs to hear about you?

Ohferchrissakes — NOBODY, you douchewagon! We've all heard about Jesus already. Really. He's very famous. Just because you have a captive audience doesn't mean anybody needs to hear from you, ya self-centered prick. 

Amazing how the story is improved when the writer simply intended to quietly read his book or nap, then thoughtfully and discretely bought lunch for the GIs. It would be even better if the story omitted all the silly crap about his first-class meal, the captain's booming praise, the passenger's ovation, and people throwing cash at him. 

Coincidentally, that would also be a little more in line with Jesus' advice to perform charitable acts without drawing attention to oneself (Matthew 6:2-4). God forbid a Christian magazine promote that kind of crazy agenda.

4 chimed in:

Beloved said...

Well, it wasn't so much the guy buying the soldiers lunches that made me tear up, it was the fact that they didn't have $5 for lunch. Plus JPDV sent it to me, and you know she's a Navy brat.

AKCB said...

"...and then we all vomited and went on insulin. The end."

This touched me, too, but more like a sketchy uncle at a family picnic.

Free lunches, Jeebus & The Troops. America, fuck yeah!

J9 said...

You manipulative f*ck! I did tear up, and now I'm jaded by you! I stopped watching Ally McBeal when I felt this manipulated - and I'll probably still read your blog, but only because you are also a funny f*ck!

Tor Hershman said...

So, Crusty Bastard, you think that you've heard about Jesus, eh?!?!?!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzY2bVsZK5s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sckuqPulRGk