I am a Vietnam Veteran. I Flew Helicopters in in the central highlands in 1967 and 1968. As such my life has been and still is greatly effected by my experiences based on that war. I am somewhat of a recluse and I do not like to be around people. I am not ” a good citizen of the earth”, but I am not a hermit either. However, I would rather read a book or watch TV than interact with people. One of the reasons for this is the reactions I got on my return to the US in 1968. I was spit on in the San Francisco airport by a young lady as I changed planes on my way home. There were lines of hostile and jeering people in the airport as we walked from plane to plane. Since we had no civilian clothes it was obvious who were the troops and who were the “hippies”. The general climate towards the military then was bad. As a young man of 22 I thought I was doing what was expected of me and I came back to the likes of John Kerry saying we had all committed war crimes. I hadn’t and I never saw one but I did see lots of young men in body bags. No doubt it is a terrible waste on both sides. I could go on and on.
So how do I go from that to “pleased to meet you”? I love to travel. The reason I blog is to share my travels. One of the things I love to do is to go to bars frequented by expats or other travelers and nurse a drink and talk with others in the bar. I also start conversations with people in the airport. I will sit next to a likely gentleman (never ladies, the few I have tried to engage in conversation seem to suspect me of some nefarious purpose or scheme) and make a comment on the weather or the country or something that seems vaguely appropriate at the time. I have met some great people in that manner and had some great conversations. I have been invited to the homes of expats and to share local customs and experiences. I am constantly told to go here or there and experience this or that. I wish it were that easy at home but whether it is me or something that has happened to American culture (whatever that is) I am much more likely to meet someone whose company I enjoy when on the road, someone to whom I can truly say “pleased to meet you”.