Robin Amy Bass

‘NAM VET

I was visiting my Mom yesterday, and she mentioned that she wanted a new spring watch; nothing expensive – something colorful.

She was browsing through a catalogue. Mother’s day is coming up… so I made a mental note.

I happen to know that the type of watch she wants, are sold all over the city. Much to the dismay of the major department stores, when the weather is nice, venders put up these stands and sell items for a whole lot less then the “Blooming dales Rip off Retail Price…” It’s gotten so popular that they even do it in Queens. Designer items – knocked off and sold for “bubkus” as we say in the Schtetal of Forest Hills!

Yesterday was a beautiful day, so after my visit at Mom’s, I went for a walk. Everyone was out. It had been raining all weekend, and this was the first spring day!

In front of the Duane Reade Drug Store, on the main drag was one of those vender’s stands. A gentleman stood selling toy battery operated cars.

Ben likes PT Cruisers, so I asked if he had any. The man smile “No, MaMee… but look what I have in the box there…”

.You guessed it… watches; oversized and colorful… and hopefully cheap. The vender had a cap on, but the sun was glaring. I didn’t get a good look at the cap, but I did notice that he had a long reddish ponytail. I turned my back to get a better look at his array of time pieces.

I did make a mental note, that the gentleman was not a wearing a Yankee Cap, but my eye was on the watches. Besides, the Yankees had just lost… so I was in no mood to hear someone gloat. I asked, “How much are the ladies watches?”

He said, “Seven dollars, Miss.”

… Now, I know that near my store, I can get them for $5… but… it was my day off and I had just paid my taxes so I decided to treat myself. I bought one in green. I was still not sure if I would keep it or give it to my Mother – I had time to decide.

Then I spied a man’s watch and pen set. It said “US Army” and had a camouflage logo.

I said to the guy, “How much?”

He said “10 dollars.” It was a good price… watch, key chain, and pen but…

“Do you have any Marine logos? My guy is a former Marine.” I asked.

He said, in a Hispanic accent, “No. I sold the Navy one… sorry just Army…” and pointed to his cap. The cap was decorated with all sorts of Army and military pins. A small POW/MIA pin said it all. I wasn’t sure of his age… but he had a look; I guess, now I would call it an Aura

He said “I was in the Army… Sorry…”

I said, “Please, don’t apologize… it’s just that I wanted to give the watch to a Marine, But apologize…? Can I ask you…? When were you there?”

He looked at me… “72.”

… I said, “Oh… are you ok? I hope you are feeling OK”

He shook his head. He pointed to a few places where he had scars. He kept looking at me… I said “It’s OK… I know where you were.”

He said… “Vietnam…”

I said, “I know… I think it’s wonderful that you are back. You served your country… You should be proud. You are a hero. Are you OK?”

He smiled. “Good days and bad days…”

I said, “My name is Robin, and you?

He said, “My name is Juan”

We shook hands

I said… “You know what?” He looked at me. I said… “Give me the Army set and 2 more of the lady’s watches… I have a lot of friends”

He said, “Discount?”

I said, “No thanks… you made my day… and one more thing…”

He said “What Senorita?”

I said “Welcome Home!”