I have been traveling a lot lately for my new assignment with the Reserves and that means that sometimes I am in uniform because I go straight to work, or do not have time to change when I head home.
In any case, I have noticed a marked difference in how I am treated when I travel in uniform versus when I do not. I generally never traveled in uniform prior to doing this job starting in January, so I am writing from limited experience. People are so kind to me- it is almost embarrassing. I blush, because I honestly am humbled by it. I do not feel that I do enough to serve my country, and yet when I travel in uniform, I am treated like a war hero. In reality, I am a support puke. Anyway, I know that serving means something different to all, but to me, everyone is in service. In some form or another, everyone does their part to make our country go, and to make their community a success. So the guy at TSA who smiles at me, directs me to a special line, and shakes me hand, to say “Thank you for your service,” is also a hero and serves as well – he is a civil servant, working for the Government, with a mission, and his actions affect all of us travelers who go through his line. Like my post on the Fred Factor, he is a Fred to many who go through his line – his actions have direct impact on many. He may not know it but when I thanked him for his service, it was not empty or without sincerity. I meant it. The flight attendant today, who was also a Fred, was amazing and when he and his fellow flight attendants thanked me for my service as I deplaned today, I also thanked them for theirs. Without their kindness today, and their understanding, I could have had a miserable flight. We all serve in some way or another.
Is there a marked difference in how people perceive me or judge me when I travel in uniform as opposed to when I wear sweat pants and a T-shirt? I am not 100% sure but there is a marked difference I have noticed. People are kinder, more accommodating and patient. But, I also know that we all serve, in some form or fashion. We all serve, with or without a uniform, in or out of the military. We all sacrifice. Sure, our military members, police and firefighters may give the ultimate sacrifice in service, but so would anyone in plain clothes- the mother, father, the teacher, and the everyday hero. It is important for all of us to judge each other as being in “service” to each other, to the nation we love, and for the greater good. If we did that, it would not matter what we wore when traveling, when walking down the street – we would honor everyone we encounter in the same manner. Worth, dignity and respect; it goes so much deeper than the wearing of a uniform.
So, remember, the next time you thank someone for their “service,” thank you for yours as well!