My little gas station run-in with a military “veteran”

I have a quick rant about the time I almost put hands on a dude while waiting in line to use a gas station bathroom.

I was driving down to Los Angeles and we stopped at a gas station in the middle of absolute butthole nowhere. I had to piss like a racehorse so bad that I was sweating like a pig. 

Literally, I was about ready to pop and if I didn’t stop in the next 10 minutes after that moment, I would have just soaked my shorts. 

So I walk inside the gas station to see that there’s a line inside the bathroom to use the one singular urinal. I noticed the guy in front of me is wearing a navy blue hat. Upon a second glance, I discover that this hat is actually a navy seal veteran’s service hat with a military insignia and a battleship title. 

I don’t know why I even opened my mouth. I honestly could have said nothing to this guy and he wouldn’t have ever thought twice about it. I think the nervous energy from me literally on the verge of pissing my own pants got the best of me. In all honesty, I was just trying to be polite. 

I said, “Thank you for your service.”

The guy turned around and looked at me, like I was crazy, and said, “What?”

I’m thinking to myself: Oh, he didn’t hear me? No problem. I’ll just say it again.

So I said, once again, “Thank you for your service.”

Right about now is when I started to lose my shit. The dude fucking looked behind him, as if I was talking to anyone else, and then just raised an eyebrow at me like I was fucking nuts. The spot at the urinal opened up so he just took it without saying anything more to me.

So now I’m just sitting in line, wondering if I forgot how to speak english. I shit you not when I say I was worried that I had forgotten how sentences work. The raw looks of confusion this guy was giving me fused with the pure discontent of me talking to him at all were literally breaking me down. I just sat there and stared at the wall and waited for my turn to use the urinal.

After not moving and staring into literal nothingness for a minute, I then decided to take some action. I pulled out my phone and typed in ‘veteran service hat’ just to make sure that I wasn’t crazy. Sure enough, this guy was wearing a hat that very much resembled that he served in the military at some point in his life. 

My social anxiety simply would not allow for me to stop any more flow of communication. Even though there is a high likelihood that I may in fact never see this guy again, I needed to have some sort of closure. I couldn’t allow him to think that I was crazy. I needed to talk to him. But I didn’t just want to point at his hat and say, “nice.” I had to ease into it.

So, like a fucking moron, I decided to corner the bastard on his way out of the urinal and say, “My uncle served on the U.S.S. John C. Stennis.” That is, in fact, a true statement, but why I decided to go with that exact phrase at that exact moment in time is something I still don’t understand.

Sure enough, this guy still has no fucking clue what I’m talking about. He looks at me and says, “Dude what are you talking about?”

Now I’m somewhat pissed because I know I’m speaking not only perfect english, but in a very coherent and relevant way that any military veteran could not just understand but also appreciate it. 

So I said, “Your hat. You served, right?”

And in retrospect, if I was going to say anything to this guy at all, I honestly should have opened all conversation with this question.

The dude looks up in the direction of his hat and says, “Oh shit, I forgot I was wearing this,” and he takes his hat. “I didn’t serve. This is my brother’s, I needed a cap to wear otherwise my face was going to fry up on the drive down here.” He was nervously chucking at this point. 

I was not.

I almost put hands on the dude. Understand that by wearing that hat, signifying that you did serve in the fucking military, people will literally give up their first class seats on an airplane for you. 

Imagine if you got chilly in the hospital and you went into the closet behind the desk and grabbed a white lab coat and a blue mask. If you are at a hospital and you put on a lab coat and blue face mask for warmth, you are literally a doctor now. As far as the general incoming public knows, you are a licensed physician. I’m sure even some of the nurses wouldn’t think twice about your legitimacy seeing you walk up and down the halls.  

There were so many things I wanted to say to that dude with the service hat, but I didn’t have the energy. It was also my turn to use the urinal. So I pissed like a racehorse, exited the gas station, got in my car, and continued on my way down to LA.

Written by Henry Marken

I lost my pinky finger at age 4, but then found it again at a soup kitchen when I was 15. Survivor of a wild turkey attack (2008). I went to the University of Phoenix before it was cool to do college online. Currently in a lawsuit with Crayola after a devastating purple crayon incident.

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