This past week I was in the Pacific Northwest on business. In Seattle, I was at a convention for horse publications, where I sat on a panel to discuss media kits. I know this sounds about as boring as watching a one-eyed pigeon fly in circles, but schmoozing editors and clients was actually quite fun.
However, I couldn’t get over how anti war and anti Bush the city of Seattle was and how opposed to the war the many of the convention attendees were. In fact, at the banquet, the topic of conversation for my table was Iraq. And only one person at the table knew I had been there. They were talking about how it was such a waste and how we shouldn’t be there. Their material was the typical uninformed jargon. Because I was representing my client, I kept my mouth shut, which took a lot of control. After their anti-war conversation died down, they began talking about the weather (imagine that) and how hot it was outside. Without even thinking, I added to their conversation. “Yeah, this time last year, I was cooking like a baked potato wrapped in tin foil.” After I said this, I knew I messed up. It’s not that I wanted to hide the fact that I had served in Iraq; I just didn’t want that awkward moment. Nor did I want to grill them for being so ignorant about their information. When somebody asked… “Oh really and where were you last year that was so hot.”…. I knew I was in trouble. When I talk to total strangers about Iraq, I try to be as generic as possible, especially in professional settings. After I said Iraq, I think everybody felt bad for their previous conversation and then they asked “so what’s it really like.” So I told them. During my discussion, everybody’s eyes were on me. They didn’t play with their salads or sip on wine or fold their maroon napkins. They just listened and after my five-minute spill, nobody said a word. I hope I impacted their views.
After the Seattle convention, I traveled south to Oregon to work with another client. In my opinion, Oregon is the most beautiful state with its uncanny vistas and colorful wildflowers. My job here was to photograph Oregon’s roadsides and forestry tracts.
On one shoot, I was hobbling in and out of traffic as cars passed by. “Boy, you’re going to get yourself killed being that close to traffic. Be a little more careful.” He was right, my feet were right there on the yellow line, but it was a familiar feeling. It was a rush to be so close to death again.
After completing my photo shoots, I drove through Oregon. When the gas light flicked on, I pulled into a gas station. As I pulled to the pump, a kid ran to my car and started opening the gas lid.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“I am pumping your gas.”
“No you’re not. I can pump my own gas.”
Honestly, I thought the kid might be trying to rob me, so he’s lucky I didn’t tackle him to the ground. Needless to say, I left this gas station and went to another. And just like the previous one, another kid ran to my car and started opening my gas lid.
“Get away from my car.”
“But I’m going to pump your gas. Oh, you’re not from around here are you?”
“No I’m not. Now get away from my car before I hurt you.”
My only thoughts were “what the hell is wrong kids these days. Trying to pump people’s gas? That’s a weird way to rob somebody.”
Come to find out, it’s a state law in Oregon that you cannot pump your own gas. I feel like the good people of Oregon are missing out on a very valuable privilege. I mean, they will never know the satisfaction of squeezing off a little more gas to get to an even amount of $30 nor will they ever accidentally drip a little gas on their shoe and laugh about it later. By God, I am a combat veteran and it’s my right to pump my own gas. Of the many freedoms I fought for, pumping gas ranks up there with being able to freely clip your fingernails. Let’s hope Oregonians don’t have that privilege taken away too.