I was too tired to complete this part of the evening’s story on Monday night – but thought this was both funny and telling.
Monday night – at the bi-partisan dinner – I had a very funny exchange with the head waiter. They had shared that we could take the candle holders, so I was very tackily taking mine – including emptying the water out and he came over to seemingly admonish me, saying “what are you doing?” I apologized and said “I’m so sorry – am I not allowed to take these” – but he was joking. I then said – “oh – is it too tacky to take these?” He responded with “I hope you don’t mind my saying what I’m about to say – but it’s nothing compared with having a sticky tattoo on your arm.”
Very funny – Eric especially loved it.
But this initiated a very interesting conversation with this person. His name is Jeremy and he was the catering manager there – but he did that as a moonlighting job because he was also a marine.
We then chatted with him for awhile. The most salient part of the conversation, though, was at the end. We asked him whether he was excited about what was happening. He confided that he’s not. More questions yielded that the basis of his skepticism was a concern that, in the past, when Bill Clinton took office, he cut back the money on defense. Instead of having live rounds, they had to train by simply holding the guns and saying “rat tat tat, rat tat tat”. Or – for the humvees, they wouldn’t put gas in them. So that, by the time they made it into actual engagement, they were ill-prepared. He shared that, when he went to Somalia, his team didn’t have ammunition when they did their patrols. They were told that, if they are fired upon, they need to simply hide. Under Bush, however, they have live fire with which to practice and the Humvees not only have gas, but are fixed within 4 days if they break down. We agreed to revisit his concerns in 4 years.