Off-topic, obviously, but it's slow going in the sports dead zone known as summer. This may not be of interest to many, but here it goes:
So as I'm sure I've mentioned a few times, I'm in the Army (for another week, anyway), I've lived all over, we just had a baby, and I live in the Maryland-DC suburbs. As I get ready to become a civilian again, and people ask if I plan to stay in MD long, I reflect on what could keep me here and what would draw me elsewhere. Then I thought of two semi-analogous situations, how different populations treat people in different areas.
In February of 2004 I was in Iraq and had to be med-evac'ed out of theater. I was lifted to a hospital in Germany for examination, and I was then to be mailed back to the US to make my way back to Ft. Hood, where I was stationed. As I was fortunate to be in good enough shape to be able to take commercial air, the Army put me on an itinerary to Austin. I had just enough time after notification to call my wife, then in the Air Force and stationed up in Nebraska, that I was coming home. She called my parents to drive down from Wichita, and she arranged to fly down to my brother's place in Houston, pick up my car there, and drive up to Austin to meet me when I got off the jet.
Well, my reliable little Prizm didn't make it to Austin. On the outskirts of Giddings the whole thing just went south on her, I believe the alternator. It crawled to a halt right in front of a car dealership, and the people there told her not to get the car fixed there, but to see if she could make it to the Shell station just a little up the road. The valiant car made it just that far before finally quitting on her, and my wife found herself stranded in Giddings with no way to meet me at the airport.
Enter the owner of the Shell station. This guy sees my young wife, her eyes consumed with tears, and asks her what's wrong. She explained the whole situation, and the man sprang into action. He had his mechanics pull another car out of the garage just a few minutes before closing time and start working on fixing mine, tracks down the needed parts, and he calls his wife and daughter to bring their car up to the station. They all pile in and drive my wife, whom they've all just met, all the way to Austin-Bergstrom to meet me at the terminal. They wait there until they verify that my flight isn't going to be late or anything, and then they head back to Giddings so the man can take care of my car. After I arrived, my parents finally got there, and we all had a great reunion in my favorite city. I slept like I hadn't slept in almost a year. The next morning, we drove to Giddings, and the man refused to allow us to pay for the repairs on my car. I insisted that they let us take them all to lunch, so we all went to their favorite BBQ joint in their little town. They turned out to be a warm, jovial family, and of course they were Longhorns fans. They went above and beyond the call of decency and humanity to help out a soldier and his family when needed, and refused to let the inconvenience even begin to get in their way.
Fast forward to 2009. My wife, 8.5mos. pregnant, is driving home from work, and she blows a tire. She maneuvers her car to the shoulder of one of the nation's busiest expressways, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, and tries to dig out the spare tire. It's raining, she's having no luck at all, etc. Hundreds upon hundreds of cars zoom right past her, probably the first time in years that Maryland drivers have done anything but slow down to 15mph to get a look at a freaking flat tire. Finally, after 20min., a nice electrician from North Carolina spots her and pulls over to help. Turns out he had a pregnant wife at home too, and couldn't imagine that someone wouldn't help someone in that position. He got her fixed up and sent her on her way.
Fast forward to yesterday. People asked me why I'd even consider moving out of the area, considering my earning potential here is so much higher than I'd make anywhere else in the country. After this morning's reflection on these two contrasting situations, I think I have a response prepared for the next person who asks. Can't wait to be back in Texas. I do know one particular Shell station on my list of first places to go when I get back.