Friday, February 29, 2008

You Can Have An Effect - Sometimes You Just Need A Reminder

So yesterday I had to take my Ford Explorer back into the dealership for service. I have had a leak that despite multiple attempts to fix it hasn't been fixed. Yesterday I had had enough after seeing the rather large pool of fluid sitting on my garage floor yesterday morning. I had a very full morning and a lunch meeting but decided that I was going to go out to the dealership and raise some hell.

I was mad driving out there. It's bad enough that the dealership is somewhat of a drive for me but I have been out there so much over the past year that the service advisers no longer need to ask me for my name so they can fill out their service ticket. They are a very nice group but the simple fact was I was angry at having to see them again and it was putting me "in a mood."

My regular service adviser was not in when I arrived but the gentleman that helped me was very nice. He immediately sensed my frustration and offered to delay my day no further and offered me a rental car. My blood pressure calmed a bit and I appreciated his proactive approach to at least helping make my bad situation better in some small way. He pointed me to the waiting area and asked me to "make myself comfortable" until the rental car agent could come by and bring me my car. I remember thinking 'great, waiting around with nothing to do.'

I arrived in the waiting room to find a older man sitting in the chairs watching Dr. Phil. He wore a black baseball cap that indicated he had fought in both World War Two and Korea. He had brought old "Bessie," his Ford 250 horse hauling truck in to have the mirror replaced. Apparently his son and law couldn't handle such a powerful beast as Bessie and he sideswiped a mailbox with the mirror, breaking it.

He and I exchanged a few pleasantries and some ongoing commentary about the crazy beauty pageant ladies who were being counseled by Dr. Phil. He was a delightful man full of spark and personality and seemed to enjoy the company. He moved a few chairs closer to "visit" and I suspect to hear a little bit better.

He told me about living on a small little spec of land out yonder and how his truck had seen many a mile of this great state. Not a lick of problems with that "old Ford"; I wish I could be so lucky. We could have made polite chit chat for the rest of the time but I decided to ask about his hat.

His eyes lit up when I asked about his hat and his apparent service in our military. He sat up straighter, spoke stronger and almost seemed to take on a completely different personality altogether. He told me he had joined the Navy in 1944 because it was his only option out of the cotton fields. He spun stories of all his adventures both state side and beyond and spoke of some of the action his crew had seen but oddly didn't seem to want to talk about much of that.

He left the service in 1948 in hopes of making a better life for himself. He went to refrigeration school in Dallas and did well but soon found his job prospects somewhat limited. He rejoined the military but this time in the Army. He met his wife and was shipped off overseas to "fight the fight."

He simply transformed as he talked to me. Apparently he said he suffered from post traumatic syndrome and the "boys in his unit" thought him crazy. He claimed he wasn't crazy but just scared. The night terrors as he described them were almost unbearable and he was eventually given his walking papers and sent on back home to Texas. The sparkle seemed to trickle out of his eyes at that point; replaced by some barely noticeable tears.

"Here I've been ever since," he said almost apologetically.

I could have stayed and talked with him for hours. He was fascinating. To me it seemed like he hadn't had much of a chance to talk to anyone about what we shared in those few precious moments. It seemed really, really good for him and I was so glad that I had asked about his hat. Thinking back it could have been so easy to ignore what is obviously a powerful connection point to him and his life. What a shame that would have been!

As the rental car lady tapped me on the shoulder, I stood up and thanked him. I thanked him for his service to our country and for doing his duty and told him I was truly glad to know him. Big tears welled up in his eyes and he mumbled something barely audible. I asked him to repeat it but he looked down as if embarrassed by whatever he had said. He held my hand with a firm grip and said, "Nice talking with you fella."

It was nice talking with you too!

Think you can't make an impact on someone's day? I am glad my Ford (Fix Or Repair Daily - no joke!) had a problem and that I was led to that waiting area yesterday afternoon. Even the Ripple guy needs a wake up call and reminder every now and then.

Have a great weekend my friends.

Ripple On!!!


jag said...

What a great moment - thanks for sharing it with us! I think you have a gift for bring this out in people... It's certainly not easy for most of us to do.

Pace e bene,

Steve Harper said...

I don't think I have any more of a gift than anyone else. I am shy remember!

But....I will admit that I am lucky enough to make myself more aware these days and because of that awareness, I have met some incredible people along the way. You included!

Ripple On!!!


Ann said...

I had one of those moments on a flight to Hawaii to visit my daughters. I found myself seated next to an amazing woman named Helen.

Your conversation today made me go back and read my blog post on the adventure.

It's a flight that will forever live in my memory. Connecting with Helen started with a pair of socks.

Asha said...

Steve you are not shy!!!! :) Great post to promote more awareness in our daily lives. You never know where something like that in life takes you and who may be there waiting for you to talk to. Keep sharing your gift Steve, it is well appreciated in the world.

Be well,


Anonymous said...


I read your BLOG all the time. I swear no matter what you write, you always get me thinking. Your Ripple Effect is infectious and I just am so glad to have stumbled upon your BLOG.

Keep up the good work because it is very good work you are doing.


Tom Magness said...

Ripple Man,
Thanks for this post...and for taking the time to talk to this hero. We are rapidly losing those amazing members of the "Greatest Generation." We need to continue to engage them to understand what it takes to do the sorts of things that they did. Thanks! Hooah!

Steve Harper said...


Very cool. Socks eh? You have to expand on that for us.


Thank you my friend. But you do know me too well to say that I am not shy! Hope all is well and thanks, as always, for your support.


You truly humble me with your comments. It means a lot to know my words are making a difference out there.


Hey Buddy! Thank you as always for leaving a comment. I would love to find a formal way to do just that. I think we should absolutely be doing more to connect with these heroes. You and I should talk sometime about how we might find a way to do that.

Thanks to you all. For your readership, your friendship and being such great supporters of my work.

Ripple On My Friends!!!


Sue said...

Very interesting post, Steve. Thanks for sharing! It has certainly gotten my head thinking again.