Friday, March 10, 2006

unsolicited advice...

This picture is from The Holland Sentinel

Yesterday I was advised to "Never hire a veteran. Veterans are dishonest, untrustworthy, lazy and rarely show up on time. They're uneducated, lack ingenuity, have little if any common sense, have no integrity and usually have a drug or alcohol problem."

A direct quote from a person who was giving me his unsolicited "advice". I don't know him... certainly don't care to know him now.

I did the right thing though. I "walked away". I "walked away" after my brief but rather candid reply.

He knows a bit about me now... just a bit. He knows I'm a veteran as my father is, as my son is, as two of my brothers are, as my grandfather was, as my great grandfather was.

Yep. He damn sure knows I'm a veteran!

And he knows a bit about how I "appreciated" his advice.

After taking a bit of time to calm myself I moved on.

I wanted something... I needed something...

I searched for a poem of sorts that was sent to me when I was "serving the country" in '72. An anonymous sender who cared.

For those who don't know or don't remember public sentiment for people in the military back then, well... let's just say it wasn't all that favorable.

To counter the public's growing disdain a few bold, courageous, well intended individuals took it upon themseles to "reach out"... to attempt to "brighten things up" for the troops. Anonymously, they would send us words of encouragement.

Sent to us as poems, letters, short stories, cards... however they could.

Words of encouragement. Sometimes so simple, quite often so needed.

I remember getting the "poem" back then... from someone I didn't know... from some anonymous individual who really made this young G.I.'s life get so much brighter.

I remember reading it for the first time. The overwhelming feeling of pride... of having a purpose. Hurt and pain momentarily lifted. Fear and anger was pushed aside.

I remember the simple note that accompanied the poem. A handwritten "Thank you!"... that's it. Nothing more. I don't know who penned it... the note or the poem. I don't know when the poem was written. I don't really care.

But, I do want to thank that anonymous person who sent it to me...


As I have so many times already... as I will so many more times I'm sure.

I'm sharing this with you because I was inspired to do so yesterday by the unsolicited "advice" I received! Little does he know, his advice helped... not as he had intended, not as he had hoped... but it helped. I read the poem that I haven't read for oh-so-long...

...and I feel better.

Here's the poem.


I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o'beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's ``Thank you, Mister Atkins,'' when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's ``Thank you, Mr. Atkins,'' when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.

Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy how's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints:
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;

While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country," when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees

...thank you!

Ed or Sue, any idea who penned this and when?


DG said...

Good job, Tommy!

and for the record, the best vets I've hired are women out of the Air Force.

Sunshine said...

Hi DH,

This poem was written by Rudyard Kipling(who wrote The Jungle Book, and Kim as well as other books and poems). My favourite of his poems is called "If".

Tommy' was Tommy Atkins, the generic term for a British soldier.

Thomas Atkins (also Thomas): a familiar name for the typical
private soldier in the British Army; and in particular, privates in the Cavalry or Infantry.

The 'Widow' in the last verse referred to Queen Victoria.

I don't know when it was first published, but as he died in 1936, I would assume it dates from WW1.

Hope this is helpful...

D. H. said...

DG- Our son was a "Zoomie". He broke the line of "Grunts" but in the end I think he was the smarter one of all of us.

SUE!!!- Ask and I shall receive!!! I had no idea (obviously) that Rudyard Kipling wrote this. I remember reading a bunch of his stuff in school and college. Wow! You're a walking, talking (well, posting) encyclopedia!

I never googled the title because I never thought it'd show up anywhere. I thought it was an anonymous piece. I've never seen it anywhere else. Thank you!

And thank you for the interpretations. It makes good sense. Though I already knew "Tommy" was slang for a British soldier (my Dad passed that along to me years ago) I had no idea re: the Atkins part nor the distinction with "Thomas Atkins" and the cavalry or infantry private.

WOW! Thanks again!

Cathy said...

What a great memory that brought up. My ex was Air Force Special Ops(hornets). While the guys were in Saudi the wives would meet at the "Hooch bar" on base on Friday nights. The Friday night before they came home, after six months away, we wrote that poem on the wall of the bar and signed it...the horny horn-ettes.

I love Rudyard Kipling. I have a framed photo of my boys with the poem "If" under the photo. I think I did a post on my blog about it.

I second dogooder, Good job Tommy! Screw that jerk and his advice.

D. H. said...

Hi Cathy- Wow! I was surrounded by people who knew this stuff and I never bothered to ask until now! That's cool that it brings memories back for you too... good ones I hope.

LOL "horny norn-ettes".

Harleydreamer said...

I've been away for a while and had a lot of catching up to do. This post stopped me in my tracks (a few others caught me off guard as well - see POSTS). As I work at a Veteren's Hospital and am ex-Army, the "unsolicited advice" cuts deep. I bow down to your self control in light of the situation. If not for those who served in time of war we assuredly would NOT be the nation we are.