Okay, so not a “Lord of the Rings” fan – but couldn’t resist thinking of Gollum’s “my precious” as I reached into the blouse pocket of my uniform neatly draped over the back of an over utilized office chair. Now, card in hand, I recognized in over 10 years I have never once left my military ID card at work…until yesterday that is.
This produced a bit of mental anguish. Mostly because I’m a creature of habit. I knew I could find a way on base, but I prefer smooth sailing to execute the mundane day-to-day tasks. The last thing I wanted to do is inconvenience a Shipmate.
It didn’t take long to think of a solution. “I know, I’ll just bring my wife’s ID card,” I thought. I can explain my situation to the sentry, they can scan her card and it’s business as usual. Apparently this sounded better in my head.
“Nope, nope, NOPE!” came the sentry’s response. He continued, “You can’t get onto base with someone else’s ID card!” Simultaneously, I looked across to the other sentry who greets me with a warm smile nearly every day…and often waves me through without even looking at my card. He was shaking his head back and forth accompanied by a ‘stank-eye’ directed at me to seethe all hopes and dreams. I cordially made my U-turn. I told the sentry that “I understand”. I do. We are both cogs in a machine.
I wondered however (while adding an additional 10ish miles to a 50 minute commute), WHAT IF…we were all human for a day? You know, like family? Treated everyone like brothers and sisters? If the sentry’s family member or best friend was in my situation this morning – we all know the policy would have been irrelevant.
It’s hard to believe that a man’s word actually counted for something just a couple of generations back. What about marriage? It meant nothing today. I’m not looking for breaks. I didn’t want the man to look down at my ID, notice the DOB and sing me happy birthday. But I did want him to look down. Compare the (uncommon) last name on my driver’s license to that of my wife’s ID and then make a decision trusting his own antennae. This wasn’t just “someone else’s” ID card. This is the same person who the military entitles to medical benefits, a housing allowance and a large sum of money if I die.
I reached the gate closest to my appointed place of duty. This time a young Marine stood the watch. “Hey brother, I work right there,” pointing up the road. I continued to explain my predicament. He looked at the ID, scanned it and said, “As long as you can tell us where you work.” What!? Again, it wasn’t the marriage that counted for anything. It wasn’t the same last name matching up. This time it was my ability to name my duty station. I’m not sure his logic was perfect. But gratitude couldn’t help but flow as he revealed a glimpse of “raw humanity”. He made a judgment call and took me at my word.
Next time someone loses “their precious,” hear them out. Use your Spidey senses and err on the side of “help”. Make the world a better place.