I got put in my place the other day. I was standing in line at Eckerds trying to buy some drugs...an antibiotic cure for my sore throat and sniffles... hoping that the Vietnamese refugee behind the counter would take pity on me... standing in line behind a well dressed, obviously middle class white woman, who was trying to connect her world with the man behind the counter... and I suppose, spread the message of her guy John Kerry. She was complaining about the cost of the meds she was buying... Oh, it's just terrible you know. It's that damned Bush, He's giving the drug companies carte blanche... I mean carte blanche! The little Vietnamese guy made some sort of mumbled comment that the woman took as agreement. She didn't know the guy was a early immigrant to the neighborhood like I did. The guy she was talking to was a rabid Republican, a man who thought Reagan was something close to god, and a proud card carrying NRA gun advocate... just the kind of guy who you'd expect to meet... a first generation immigrant who had escaped the horror of Communist VietNam. Just the kind of fellow who would have paid the patriot's price of freedom with his own blood... the kind of man with sand in his craw who would have the steel backbone necessary to fight his way out of his homeland and be a "boat people refugee" back in the days of the evacuation of Viet Nam. I knew him from the Bakua games that Sunny (the gangster and this man's cousin, who had paid for his family's relocation to sunny Florida ten years ago) runs in the back rooms of the Viet Nam cafe' next to my office. He's an ex Vietnamese military officer, a man who was a translator and (I suppose) an intelligence officer who was an important, university educated man , who got his family (wife and 3 kids) out in the last days before the fall of Saigon. Now this Kerry supporter is going to tell him that "help is on the way".
Yeah. Help is on the way. Anyhow, as she ran out of steam with the pharmacist/soldier she turned to me. Don't you think that it's just a shame how these Republican fat cats have made medicine too expensive for people to buy? I do. Well, once Mr. Kerry gets in there he's going to make the drug company Republican fatcats wish they had been a little less greedy. Don't you agree?
What is Mr. Kerry gonna do?
Why, he's going to shake things up and get us back on the right track.
I guess that he'll be starting on that as soon as he gets back from Cambodia.
What do you mean, Mr. Kerry was never in Cambodia.
But I distinctly remember him saying that it was "seared in his memory" how he was there doing war crimes and stuff.
The woman sniffed and said I don't think I want to talk to you. And then she gathered up her overpriced miracle drugs and marched out.
The pharmacist/refugee, a man who used to be an officer in the Vietnamese army who had seen the price of freedom, smiled but was silent. He was amused but didn't want to lose a customer.
Oh, that's OK. But Bob... you make many enemies. What will you do when they take away your freedom?
Maybe I'll go back to school and become a pharmacist. You've done OK.
It's not the same. You have everything and have lost nothing. I have lost everything and I still miss my country. My parents are still in VietNam. My mother will not come here. I even went back to our home to get her several years ago but she will not come. She will not come. Now, THIS is my country and I am an American citizen. But I miss my family. You have not paid for your freedom. It was given to you. And that woman... and with that he made one of those small gestures of dismissal that his culture uses to cast away sorrows... that woman will never know the price paid by others for her freedom. You should have more respect.
Mr. Sun, I apologize. And with that, I gathered up my purchases and nodded to him.
Some day this war is gonna end. And Mr. Sun will still miss his home. And his mama. And John Kerry will still miss his chance to be an honorable man living among honorable men.
And I suppose I'll still be a smart ass in need of being put in my place.