The Scene of the Crime
I had to make an unplanned trip to Piney Point this weekend. Cyber thieves got hold of my debit card number and started spending some of my money at a Wal-Mart in Walnut Creek, California. I should say that they tried too, as my bank managed to prevent any charges going through. So I was simply inconvenienced by having them issue a new card. It was waiting for me at home, along with new tags for the 325xi which expire at the end of the month.
Odd how sometimes one unplanned event can set in motion a highly unexpected chain of events. Often these are good things, often not. Such was my weekend, and I am writing about this only to keep it fresh in my mind.
Unlike some parts of the country, clobbered with early snow, the Chesapeake Bay is still in a full-blown summer mode – sunny, hot and still miserably humid – at least if trying to work outside, like I foolishly did.
People were out everywhere – boaters, bikers, cyclists and late summer tourists – enjoying the start of what is generally the best month of the year.
After a totally relaxing morning, and then, completing a few chores, I headed into town to pick up some food for dinner. After all the sweat, I wasn’t much in a mood for cooking, so it was a toss-up if I’d stop at the market or just eat out. Arriving in town, I found myself in the wrong lane, and that moment of distraction was all that it took to end up at the market, instead of Solomon’s Island for seafood.
As I had to return to Blacksburg the next morning, I picked up only a few essentials that I could toss in the freezer if I had a change of heart.
At the checkout, I was standing in back of a young woman that looked vaguely familiar, but I was not sure from where. She had not seen me, and I fumbled with my iPhone to appear distracted. I do that.
As she turned back one last time to check her cart, I was busted. “Hi Mike – wow, I haven’t seen you in ages!” A big smile beamed across her face. I smiled back and said something likely really stupid. I do that.
Sensing I did not recognize her, she said “It’s M—-, we used to walk together during lunch on the base.” Saved!
The First Dozen Victims
Of course – during my days at NAVAIR, I’d often have the buffet at the Officer’s Club. I always ate too much, walking it off along the stunning banks of the Patuxent River as it enters the Bay. I rarely missed Friday’s seafood buffet, as it was awesome!
She often did the same, and after a few encounters simply said something like “Hey you, why don’t we walk together?” We did, and became causal friends for the summer well over a decade ago.
She did have much shorter hair now, and looked a bit more “mom” like, which is perfectly understandable, as I would soon find out she did have three boys.
Back then, I remembered her as super-smart, having a position of authority at PAX, as well as one young boy. Her boyfriend, a Marine, was also stationed on the base, but often out on short-term deployments. They had planned to marry next time he was back. I think that I left NAVAIR before they actually did, as I don’t recall the event.
As we were walking out of the market and catching up, the usual “well, good to see you again – let’s keep in touch” didn’t seem like the proper exit. She was one of about 2,000 “non-essential” workers at PAX to wake up last Tuesday to find she was without a job for a time, and more importantly, without paycheck – a single mom with two kids in school and one in daycare.
Her year apparently started with a divorce, and had gone downhill from there. These decade’s long wars take their toll on military families, and most of us only read of the outcomes.
Hearing that, standing at the trunk of my car with grocery bags in hand kind of floored me. I didn’t know what to say, after “I am so very sorry,” without sounding petty. I didn’t want leave with that thought hanging, but what to do?
The Escape Route to Freedom!
I opened the truck of the car, dropped in the bags and, for reasons I don’t clearly understand, I simply stated that I am starving, and I am really craving just sitting at a raw bar with a glass of wine. She agreed.
Continuing . . .