Mundane Doesn't Describe It

For the slackatudinally challenged.

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I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting. Mark Twain, Hard work doesn't harm anyone, but I do not want to take any chances. - Unknown, I am retired and have tried to do as little as possible - slowly. Me.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

M.

Some people in your life you don’t forget. Whether they were friends or someone that treated you badly, you’ll always have a memory of them. This is about someone I wasn’t that close to, but I counted him as a friend. We worked together for about two years.

Back in the mid-80’s I was in the military and was working in an office in Germany. It was a small office with one officer and five enlisted. We had one guy named M who did a good job, but our officer hated him. It got to be where there were daily battles between them. Back then before computers, we wrote our technical reports out on the long legal pads and usually they were twenty to twenty five pages long. Well M didn’t like using the legal pads and the officer insisted on us using them. So M get his legal pad and cuts off the bottom to where it’s the same size as regular sheets of paper. The first report he turned in we were all waiting to see what would happen. The officer goes to M’s desk and starts yelling at him and pounding his fist on his desk. He told M he was going to write him up for wasting government property. M reaches into his desk and pull out the extra paper he had cut off the legal pad and told him he uses it for messages. I thought the officer was going to blow a vein in his head. I had trouble with the officer because he was pretty much an ass to everybody, but I liked M because he was pretty much nice to everybody. This story leads to another one of why I’ll never forget M.

Back in the mid-80’s little to nothing was known of AIDS, and people were almost afraid to be in the same room with others that had been infected. The military had handed down a decree that everyone had to be tested for AIDS. I can remember the long lines at our little clinic and everyone waiting for their blood to be drawn. The results finally came back and M was positive. Before anyone in the office knew, one of the doctors called M and told him to report to the clinic. Another doctor came to our office and informed us of what was going on. They had 24 hours to get M out of the country and back to Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, TX. Until that time he would not be left alone. M had an apartment, a car and many other things that normally people are given time to take care of. M wasn’t given any time to do anything. They notified M that morning around 9:00 am. Someone went with him to his apartment to pack just one bag. They bought him back to the clinic to wait until they got him a space on a jet. They got him one right away, but needed someone to drive him to Wiesbaden, GE where he would be checked in and sent out. They asked for someone in our office to drive him there, so I volunteered. It was a two-hour drive and I don’t remember everything we talked about, but I did let him know how sorry I was this was happening to him. We finally get to the medical center at Wiesbaden and get him checked in. I remember shaking his hand and telling him to take care of himself, and he reached over and gave me a big hug and thanked me for everything I had done. I looked over and saw this medic with the most horrified look on his face and thought how stupid the medic was. You have to remember that back then nothing was known about the disease, and it was thought at the time, you could almost get it by touching. I don’t know why I was never afraid, but I wasn’t. I had worked with M for so long that I counted him as a friend. When I left M was crying and that’s something I’ll never forget.

I finally get back to my office and everyone is still there along with a doctor from the clinic. The doctor was telling us how rough this had been on all of us, and he would have a counselor down to talk to us if we wanted. We all declined. I kept thinking that this hasn’t been anything as compared to what M was going through. He had to leave friends and everything he owned and he didn’t know if he would ever see any of it again. With the whole process, by the time M was notified to being flown out didn’t take more than 8 hours. The biggest thing that got to me was how horribly bad the military treated anyone who was positive. Once out of the country the military wouldn’t pay or help the person to come back and get their stuff.

About one month later, we hear the door open and M comes strolling into the office. We’re all excited to see him with the exception of the officer. As we’re all talking to M, the officer leaves and goes to the clinic. We ask M what had happened to him and how he got back here. He tell us of going to San Antonio and staying in a ward in the hospital that was set up just for AIDS patients. He told us how horrible it was there, and how a majority of the people were getting discharged. He told us the discharges were basically so the military wouldn’t have to pick up the tab for the treatment of all these people. He told us that he had to buy a round trip ticket himself because the military wouldn’t help him to get back and take care of his business. He was there maybe fifteen minutes and then he left and I never saw him again. About five minutes after M left, the officer comes back with a doctor from the clinic and wants to know where M is. We tell him we don’t know where M has gone and that’s the last we heard of it.

I’ve wondered many times over the years about M. I don’t know whatever happened to him, but I know I’ll always remember him.

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