Brother, can you spare a buck?

I have been riding the Metro for a while and have encountered many unique individuals. The majority of these people are either asking me for money (I don’t have any) or commenting on my uniform, or a combination of the two. A woman once started talking to me, thanking me for my service, etc. etc., only to segue poorly to, “I have two daughters; can you give me some money?” Not that long ago a teenager sidled up to me, showed off his camouflage pants and proclaimed, “Yo, I’m just like you. How can I be like you?” He asked me if my career is worth it, how he sees veterans on TV missing body parts and wonders if it is worth it. I told him it is, that it’s a lot to think about and he’d have to find a recruiter. Thankfully he was not taking the next train with me.

One time a man, maybe in his fifties, came up to me and stuttered, with a hand up to his ear. I finally realized he was asking, “Who do I need to call to join the military?” I didn’t have a good phone number for him.

A woman asked recently about the various patches on my uniform and why they are different. I assured her I follow the regulations, but she wasn’t interested in AFI 36-2903, nor any of the other services’ equivalents. I ended the conversation with an appeal to find a recruiter, but did not have a 1-800-JOIN-THE-MILITARY number for her.

Other riders have mistook me for being in the wrong service, with the wrong rank, or possibly a misplaced bus driver. Never have I experienced someone come up to me with a cogent plan to join the military or civil service, who just happened to be missing a crucial step to complete they journey,.

Once a woman asked me about the book I was reading, and was (I think) legitimately interested in it. I talked to her about reading books, owning books, Stoicism, and the other Ryan Holliday books I will read soon. She thanked me and assured me she would find it herself.

The key to riding the Metro seems to be: wear civilian (preferably neutral colors, ideally very worn) clothes and don’t look interesting. Stoically ignore the teenagers boisterously yelling after school, the men yelling into their flip phones, and the young men filming a dance sequence to a song I don’t know that is probably being live streamed or posted to Youtube (or TikTok, Instagram, or whatever).






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