I had the chance to help out some friends down at Muscle Beach in Venice, handing out some samples of sports nutrition items. We were also giving away bags, which are like the Legos of the free giveaways, everyone wants one and will do anything to get them.
Being the gregarious, witty fellow that I am, I was eliciting responses from the crowd, just so it wasn't a mindless line up and take a bag exercise in zombie repetition. Being Memorial Day, I wanted to include the weight of the holiday in my exchanges as a gentle reminder of why it exists. An exchange would typically be:
Me: "Hey there, would you like a bag?
Gimme Grabber: "Yeah."
Me: OK. I just need you to do one thing for me. Tell me your favorite branch of the Armed Forces that help defend our country."
Simple, right? I should add that the US Air Force had several tents there, along with a flight simulator that people were lining up to ride about 30 feet away with huge banners that said, "US Air Force." Now, the majority of the people asked were able to answer with minimal hesitation. However, there were many that could not, or stood there looking at me with such a blank look, that I would have to then help them with:
Me: "Wow. Really? Look 30 feet over there and just read what you see."
Gimme Grabber: "Um...oh, Air Force? Air Force."
Me: "There ya go! That's really something you should know, especially today."
OK, so maybe it wasn't such a gentle reminder, but THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR YOU NOT TO KNOW A BRANCH OF THE ARMED FORCES IF YOU ARE A US CITIZEN.
It's disgraceful. You're out here, enjoying a beautiful day where you can wear what you want, do what you want, and be who you want because of the sacrifices that thousands of men and women made for you. Earn it. Be respectful. Be aware of the history of your country.
But the worst, the absolute worst response that I heard today in response to my question?
"The kind that doesn't fight."
Whoa, pump the brakes kid, 'cuz I'm about to slap that smug, hippy, disrespectful taste right out of your mouth. You do not just spit on the people that are fighting for your freedom.
Me: "Oh no, no, no, man...you don't say that, especially not today. Keep walking."
Moron: "What? I don't get a bag?"
Me: "Nope. Not with that response. Not on Memorial Day. You gotta have some respect for those that died so you can be here today. Move along."
He ended up by saying his grandpa served in the Navy, so he got a bag, but not from me.
You can be against fighting. You can be against the war. That's your right. A right that people died for so you thin mustached, Abercrombie tank wearing douche can enjoy the sun, sand, and sights of Muscle Beach without fear and worry. Hell, I don't even think we should be in Afghanistan, but you do not tread on the graves of those Americans and foreign service personnel that gave their lives for the hope of a better world. No sir.
I hope that maybe he gives some thought to what happened today. I doubt he will. But maybe those that were around him and overheard our exchange will, and reflect on this day and the freedoms they enjoy. And that's not ridiculous.