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the price we pay

November 11, 2014

i stood in line, tapping my foot, ready to take my {window} seat.  it was a big plane.  i was flying from baltimore to detroit.  so the typical, frustrating crush of passengers swarmed the gate.  boarding ahead of me was a gang of kids – younger than 20 years old.  i think it was the first time some of them had flown.  it was definitely the first time most of them had traveled alone.  two carried camouflage backpacks.  the tough kind.  not the kind you buy at old navy for back to school.  i was impatient.  i get so frustrated with people and their incompetence or inability to distinguish boarding zone 2 from boarding zone 84.  {these same people have difficulty understanding the space time continuum and why their time isn’t any more important than anyone else’s as they crowd the aisle the minute the fasten seat belt sign dings off upon arrival.  alas.}  so there i was.  frustrated.  and stuck behind a gang of teenagers.  my luck.

and then i happened to catch a glimpse of one of those ne’er-do-well’s bland manila folders.  on top of his boarding pass and checklist was a computer printed check for $23.  i don’t know why this stuck with me.

we got on the plane and took our seats and buckled up for takeoff.  i tried to zone out and popped in my earbuds and distracted myself with the skymall catalog in the seat back pocket.  but i couldn’t tune out the nervous chatter of those kids behind me.  now i was convinced.

this was their first time flying.  and they were on this plane – taking off and landing – on their way to basic training.  the flight attendant caught on too.  “pull low and tight across your lap…please keep your seat belt fastened while you are seated as we cannot always predict rough air…we’ll be serving complimentary soft drinks and pretzels…beer, wine and cocktails are available for purchase for $7…”

“and i’d like to take a moment to recognize our passengers seated in row 28.  they’re heading off to basic training…”

we clapped.  and all i could think was they are just kids and they volunteered for this job and all that got them was $23 and a round of applause.  and when this plane takes off they’re normal people.  and then this plane lands in detroit and they’re soldiers.  i didn’t want that plane to ever land.

i watch the minutes tick by on the clock at work.  i pound through seconds on the treadmill.  most times i’m impatient.  i tap my foot with frustration.  i count the moments, the breaths, the thoughts that whiz through my head.  but in 57 minutes those kids’ lives took on completely new meaning.

time really is of the essence.  it makes us who we are.  it separates us from what we were and where we came from.  it can change us into who we will be.  and 57 minutes was all that set those soldiers apart from being kids.  57 minutes.  and a government issued check for $23.

thank a soldier today.  and everyday.  and be grateful for every second of freedom.  because someone else paid dearly for that toe-tapping, clock ticking second.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 11, 2014 6:56 pm

    beautiful post and tribute. thank YOU for the reminder to thank them. preach on girlfriend 🙂

  2. Nikki Wilson permalink
    December 30, 2014 4:28 pm

    And this post, my dear, is exactly why I read your blog. Maybe just for today- I will cherish every second.

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