a young man goes to war

I had a tense conversation with one of my employees earlier today.  Our conversation was about her not coming to work on Monday which is a pretty important day of the month for us and our clients. It’s the deadline for paying Sales and Use Tax for the month.

The reason she isn’t coming is because her son is going to Army bootcamp in five days… November 21st.  She says she doesn’t think she’ll be coming in to work because she is going to see him off.

Being that I have been in the military, that I worked at the Marine Corps recruiting headquarters here which coincidentally is in the same building as the military entrance processing station for all branches, I know with utmost certainty how it happens and I know she won’t be occupied to the extent that she thinks she can’t come to work on the day when filing and paying sales tax for our 150 clients is due.

For whatever reason she thinks it’s going to be some drawn out experience where she gets to say goodbye to her boy, who is in fact a 21 year old man — ok, fine… he’s a boy still, especially to momma.  Either way, she thinks it could be that she won’t be done until 1 or 2pm and by then what’s the use in coming in.  It is undoubtedly, wishful thinking.

The sad fact of the matter is when she gets there at 6:00am, she will have at MOST a half hour, maybe an hour to say goodbye.   And like ripping off a bandaid that’s been stuck to skin and hair for three days, the recruiter is gonna snatch that boy up, throw him in a van and send him to Missouri for bootcamp.

After talking with her for about 20 minutes I finally got through to her that I KNOW what and how the processing happens and that she would not be there until well into the afternoon but would be done by 7:00 or so and would have plenty of time to make it in to work.

She finally said, “well, I don’t know how I’m going to be feeling. I mean for two months since he told me but especially the last couple of weeks, I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I cry all the time and I’m sure I’ll be upset after I leave and even if I do come in I won’t be able to do the filings.”

She was tearing up as she said it.

I get that.  I totally get that. She didn’t need to make up some bullshit story about it would take a long time and that she wouldn’t get here till 2 or 3 in the afternoon and traffic and distance other excuses.

I… get… THAT.

[sigh]
Our country is at war. Her son is entering the military, and our sons and daughters are dying.  I get that.

We shouldn’t be at war. We shouldn’t have the need to send our sons and daughters to a far away land.

When I was at basic infantry school we had an instructor who was a desert storm veteran say to us, “I hope some day I’m out of a job.”  In the context of what he was saying, he meant he hoped for a day when our country wouldn’t need someone to teach small arms tactics. He hoped for a day when our country wouldn’t need to train young men and women to kill.

I pray that day comes. I fear it never will.

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2 responses to “a young man goes to war

  1. I read this and as a mother I thought you were being a bit harsh towards this woman initially. It doesn’t matter how young or old our children are, all these ‘firsts’ in life are hugely emotional events for most mums (and dads).
    I’m glad you ‘got’ her angle and accepted how she was feeling because us women can’t be telling employers we aren’t coming into work based on our feelings – that’s not a good enough reason. But sometimes, people have to show some compassion and this woman (and anyone who has a son or daughter going to war) deserved every bit. Well done you for realising!

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