Friday’s Weekend Column
Southern Veterans

by James Glaser
February 17, 2006

One would think that a vet was a vet, and it wouldn't matter what part of the country you came from. In some ways it doesn't make any difference, but in others it does. I was at the Tallahassee VA Clinic yesterday waiting for my appointment with about forty other guys waiting for theirs.

I was in the area where a lot vets were waiting for their prescription to be filled, and every once in a while one would get up and walk over to take a look at the TV screen that lists the names of the people whose medicine is ready. So, constantly there were guys coming into the conversation and guys leaving.

Up in Minnesota at the VA people were less talkative, and if they did speak it was usually to the guy sitting next to them. Now down here vets will keep a conversation going with the whole area around them. Some people talk sports, some complain about the VA, and others talk about the war and current events. Dick Cheney was on everyone's thoughts this morning.

"Sheeeeeeit, I'd never be treated like the VP was." That got a lot of positive responses. The consensus was, no way could I tell the sheriff that I had shot my buddy, and he was in the hospital, but I want to wait till morning to talk to him about it.

Another thing that really got guys roaring was "I only had one beer for lunch and that was hours ago." They really loved that one. "You can try that on your wife Dick, but I ain't buying it."

"I thought the guy had a heart condition?" "Heck he's a "road hunter" too." "Now we know why the Secret Service wouldn't let the police talk to the VP, had to get the old blood alcohol count down." "I don't know why people are upset about Dick not telling George what he did, heck Dick is the guy in charge. That is why I voted for him."

It was pretty universal that these guys voted Republican, but they now uniformly know they were had on the Iraqi War. They can see the young guys coming to the clinic, and that makes them feel bad. Some of these men have sons and daughters in uniform, so they at watching what is going on, and they are pissed about lack of equipment, and they stick the blame right on the President. More than once I heard, "He lies just like his daddy did."

As long as I keep quiet, the guys keep right on talking, but once they hear my Yankee voice, things quiet right down unless I say something like, "This VA down here is sure run better than the one up North." You get them talking about the VA, and they open right back up, and soon they are talking about everything. All in all, these guys are veterans, American veterans, and they have the same gripes and the same praises as veterans in other parts of the country. Once they figure out that you are a vet just like they are, you start to fit right in.

I have to start looking for a new art studio. The man I was sub-leasing from got busted for having an after hours bar in the building. He was open from 2am till 6am on Friday and Saturday night. He had no license or dram shop insurance, and the owner of the building gave him the boot. She offered me the whole building at $1950 a month, but all I want is a small space to work in, so I am studio hunting again. It is a real bummer because I had my space working fine for me, and I had a nice display area for my sculptures.

It was 75 and hot today. People tell me that winter is over now. It just came last week, and now it is over? Florida is going to take some time to understand. For sure I will need AC at the new place, and maybe this move is a good thing, because now I really know what I want in a shop. For sure I want an eight foot square work table, with bright lights above, and I am thinking those rubber anti-fatigue mats around it. I liked the spot I am in now, because I can work outside, and I want that option again. It is nice to sand outside, and it is nice to make cuts on the band saw outside too. Finishing takes an inside place where the sun does not hit the wood, and dust is held down to a minimum.

Jeb Bush is not running for governor again, because of term limits. I guess he better ask me over for lunch real soon now, or I'll miss my chance to eat in the Governor's mansion. I would have thought, our being neighbors and all, he would have called. I guess he has other things on his mind. I really doubt if the country will go for a third Bush, and that is a shame, because you know he would have to be better than George... either one.

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