Thursday, June 22, 2006

It's a Long Story...

A few days ago (first real chance to write since) an inmate asked how I became a jail guard. "It's a long story," I said. Nothing more. It's personal information and we don't usually share that with inmates.

Kami and I had been thrown together in a conspiracy orchestrated by mutual friends which involved getting me to leave Nevada and then throwing us in the same room for an hour. That was all it took, really.

We knew very quickly that we wanted to spend the rest of out lives together. I don't recall it as any kind of big moment or sudden realization, it was just obvious. This is my wife. This may sound like I'm belittling something glorious, but I find glory in many seemingly small things: Meeting Kami was like putting on my favorite jacket. It fit right, it smelled right and I've never, ever, had a moment agonizing over which jacket is my favorite. It just is.

But we were smart and ambitious and had plans. We would both start careers. When we had a house and an income over 100k (1980's ) or a total of four books in print we would marry and have children.

Then the first Persian Gulf war erupted. I was in a National Guard unit E/1-249th AA. Echo company was a desert trained, air-mobile, anti-armor unit. We were rated one of the best tank killing units in the military and Hussein had a lot of tanks. Not for a minute was there a shred of doubt that we would be one of the first units deployed.

Suddenly, everything changed. If we were sent and if I was killed (medic assigned to a front-line unit without much of a self preservation instinct) all that Kami would have would be memories and my family would be fresh out of sons (Dad had always made a big deal that I was the last of his line).

So we decided to get married and start trying to have a child. The Gods must have smiled (or snickered) because according to the doctor Kami had been pregnant for about a week when we made the decision.

Then... nothing happened. The huge mass of top-of-the-line soviet tanks that Hussein had (and which our intelligence briefs had indicated were as good or better than the US M1 Abrams) fell apart in a matter of days. I wasn't going to war. I was going to live.

Ohmygod I have a wife and baby on the way!

Things moved quick from there. I talked to my advisor and found out that the double major (Biology and Psychology) I'd been working on for ten years would take another year (assuming I could pass biochemistry) or I'd have to take a single humanities class to get the psych degree.

---Couple of asides. 1)It took me ten years to put myself through college on the "work until I had enough to go back then stay as long as I could afford to" plan. 2) Shameless plug: The National Guard, between the student loan repayment program and the GI bill were instrumental in getting me through. Any military training is also a big edge in developing some discipline and turning whiny, selfish little entitled American kids into men and women who have a work ethic and a sense of teamwork.---asides end

And I needed a job. A real job that could support a family (omygodimgonnabeafather!!!). I put out a bunch of applications, mostly in the Law Enforcement area- it seemed like a good fit after some military, bouncing in a casino and talking to some old officers.

The Corrections job came through. It was a good fit.

Long story with a happy ending. Except it's not ended yet. Not by a long shot.


Anonymous said...

Each decision you made altered your path, but each decision was affirming and evolutionary - any 'negative' choices didn't even cross your mind, or impinge your path. The question, then, is why people make bad choices that are self-defeating, knowing them to be be so -- . Like the boy who knows drinking will kill him but takes that drink anyway, starting him on the path of destruction. And then forcefully and doggedly staying on that negative path, even when a number of 'postitive' gates appear. Humans -- No wonder advanced alien species don't want to make friends.

Kai Jones said...

There's some reward for those bad choices; sometimes it's obvious (drinking makes you feel good temporarily), sometimes it's not (took me years of therapy to figure out why I married my first husband).

Anonymous said...

My name is Travis Autry and I was in E Co, 1-249th Inf AA (Corvallis)during the first gulf war. I spent 15 years with Hewlett-Packard, seven years as a State Sheriff in Hawaii, and now I work for the US State Department. I'm heading to the US embassy in Pakistan for a couple years, then to Athens, Greece. Do you remember willie elfring or mitch johnson? My email is