Free to good home

Memorial day.

Here in the US at least we will celebrate it on Monday.

I, for one, will be doing my best to celebrate by cooking healthy food on a grill and quite possibly doing a “small” amount of drinking with some of my friends. I am thinking chicken on a stick, maybe grilled veggies. Maybe even put them together and call it a kebob, who knows.

Don’t look at me in that tone of voice, of coarse I have friends.

Anyhow, I was pondering my plans for the weekend and it got me to thinking.  Thinking about what we are actually celebrating. Thinking about the folks that I met in the service, and about those who came before. Thinking about how people who were never in really just can’t understand what it means.

There are several stories that come to mind that I could put down today. Stories of things I have seen and done. Stories told me by my dad after I came home from my first deployment to the middle east. I could talk about him paging through old photo albums and talking quietly for hours, or the sound of his tears hitting the pages as he recalled the friends that never made it home.

Instead I will talk about a lady who tried to do something nice, but ended up making me want to smack the stupid out of her. Not because she was mean, she was simply ignorant.


The company I was working for decided to send a monster sized care package over to the guys still serving in Iraq. Fliers were made and distributed, lists were put together, a collection box was set up.

Lots of you have probably seen similar efforts. Mostly they are looking at basic things, toiletries and such. Perhaps a few other odds and ends depending on who made up the list.

I sat and watched as the box filled up. I was truly impressed with the generosity of those I worked with. Unfortunately (as I was to find later) what I put in the box was not on the list. Apparently that was bad.

You see, when I went shopping for things to send over I did not pick up deodorant and baby wipes and such. The box was overflowing with that stuff already. I went shopping for what (for me at least) were my most treasured possessions when I was deployed.

I went shopping for books.


A day or two before the box was due to be shipped out I came in carrying a backpack full. Everything from Sci-fi to romance, westerns to gothic vampire stories. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20 books went into the box with all the other donations.

My partner in maintenance was another avid reader, and another veteran. We chatted about it a bit, wondering how the folks opening the care package would like the various stories. We agreed that they would find a good home. 

We could not have been more wrong.


Friday morning came and I went home for the long weekend (Memorial day, ironically enough).  I spent the weekend having fun with friends. Went on a motorcycle ride with a friend who’s dad was in the same veterans cemetery as mine, went to visit them. Had a cookout with lots of folks over. Slept out in the backyard in a tent with my kids. I just had a blast.

Monday night came and I went back to work, the box had been packed up and shipped out.

Tuesday morning as I was getting ready to go home I see the young lady who had been in charge of the care package operation. She was carrying a box over to the table next to the time clock labeled “free to good home”. Curiosity being what it is I looked inside.

It was all the books I had brought in.


When I asked what she was doing she simply replied “Some idiot put these in the collection box so I am getting rid of them. After all it’s not like those people over there read”.

I stared at her for a second, not really believing that she had just said that. She was an educated professional, not a dumb ass buy any measure. Apparently they did not teach common courtesy in whatever college she got her human resources degree through. Smart yes, people skills, not so much.

As it sunk in a whole lot of things I would like to have said flashed through my mind. The thought that won out though was one of my family at home. They could not afford me to be out of work, and if I said half of what I wanted to I would be out of a job. If I said it all I would likely be calling from the police station explaining to my wife that I needed a ride home to go with the new job I needed to find. So I reached out and punched….


My time card.


I picked up the box and told her “I’ll find a home for these.”

With the help of the guys at the recruiting office, I did.


Enjoy your long weekend folks, I’ll see you on Tuesday.