Tom Springer | August 27, 2019
It was, I suppose, a coincidence. Although in the way of coincidences, there was a whiff of the mystical about it.
It started at 5 a.m. in Albuquerque, where I’d gone for a business trip. I had a plane to catch, but the dry air and some beers the night before had given me a headache. I dug around in the grungy recesses of my shaving kit for some ibuprofen, but no luck.
Instead I found something useless to my hungover condition: a little mirror whose blue case was emblazoned with the Big Dipper, bayonet and mountain insignia of the U.S. Army’s 172nd Infantry Brigade. It was a souvenir from a long-ago visit to Fort Richardson, Alaska. I was in the National Guard then, so the mirror came in handy for shaving in the field. Yet I had long since retired from the Guard, and now stay in urban hotels with baronial bathrooms where three people could shave comfortably at the same time.
“Beautiful,” I muttered, with throbbing temples. “Why will I drag around sentimental crap like this for 10 years, but forget to buy Advil?”
The plane landed in Atlanta, where I would catch a connecting flight to Grand Rapids. After an overpriced plate of mediocre pasta, I merged with the throng for a 10-minute slog through the terminal. For most of the way, I was on the heels of the same soldier. Then, at my departure gate, he stopped dead in his tracks and stood transfixed beneath a TV monitor. Across the screen flickered a CNN story about an Afghan woman who was raped by Afghan police.
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