a reply to: MrBuddy
I have a quick (probably actually not so much) story from my last Thanksgiving that touched me to tears. I am a Veteran. Presently, I live at the VA
hospital in Los Angeles. I've been here waaaay longer than I anticipated...c'est la vie. I am actually a happy guy, totally free and I live by
faith. I simply mention that to say that this is not a 'whoa is me' story, though it might sound as such on the surface. Well, here at the VA they
have a program called CTRS where Vets can come onto the campus and get issued a tent in what I called 'tent city'. Just a large collection of tents
gathered together on foundations, 24/7 security on site, social workers on site, 3 meals a day, restrooms, showers, really not to bad. This program
was really designed for homeless Vets, of which I am not. I am, however, home-free. I have no wife nor kids, family and I'm 100% retired Army
Officer, so jumping into this sort of life for me is, literally, no big deal.
Well, every morning when I would wake up when I was living there I would wait until about 7 am and then start my morning. I would walk down to Ralphs
(grocery store here) and get some booze (I was drinking a ton during these times, I'm just about to leave a 3 month rehab program that I got moved
into here...sober now by the way...feels good). After getting my booze and a bottle of seltzer water I would go to 'my spot' on Wilshire Blvd, sit
down on the sidewalk (out of the way of foot traffic), transfer my booze to the water bottle that I would dump out such that it looked like I was just
sipping on water, and I would just chill and watch the traffic. I liked watching the traffic down here because the amount of money here is insane, so
every fifth car is a Lambo or Ferrari or Porshe or Bentley, just stupid rich. I called it the auto show. It was funny how people would react to me
because of course they thought I was homeless and I would warmly greet people who passed, I didn't want anything from them, I was just chilling, I
probably had $20k in the bank at the time so obviously people can't understand that a guy just sits here each day and chills. I get that. Well one
passerby, when I greeted him good morning returned my greeting with a 'Happy Thanksgiving!" Whaaat? I didn't even know it was Thanksgiving. I love
holidays, because if you say good morning to people, especially here, you may or may not get a return greeting, but when you say 'Happy Thanksgiving!'
people light up and greet you back. That's why it's called a holy day.
So as I sat there these two giant Mexican guys came walking by, tattoos all over (and I know prison tats when I see them). I greeting them and they
greeted me back, they were going into Ralphs where I had just recently come from, and I just continued to sit and do my thing, watch the traffic (by
the way, I used to enjoy the hell out of this time, I know it sounds weird but it was my time of relaxation and meditation). So suddenly these two
intimidating looking fellows come back around the corner having finished their shopping and said, "Hey man, here, we bought you a turkey." They
handed me over like one of those rotisserie cooked turkeys that you find in grocery stores. My eyes literally welled up. I said, "You bought me a
turkey?" They just smiled these big ol' sincere smiles and said "Yeah, Happy Thanksgiving man."
You see, I wasn't homeless, I wasn't hungry and I was far from broke. I'm a Veteran, et al, but they didn't know any of those things and, I suspect,
probably assumed mostly the opposite. But these guys, these tough SOBs thought of me in that moment. As I walked back to the VA I gave that turkey
away to someone who truly needed it, I didn't. Still, of all the Thanksgivings I've celebrated, of all the turkeys I've enjoyed, I will celebrate
turkey the most...