He was about my age, maybe ten years my junior. We met this evening in the lobby of a (closed except for take-out-orders) Denny’s Restaurant located in the middle of a Flying J Truck Stop here in Kingman, Arizona, located across Historic Route U.S. 66 from our Motel 6.

He is a long haul truck driver (St. Louis, Missouri en route to Modesto, California) and although dressed casually, he was a tad on-the-grubby side. His wife was waiting in their big-rig while he came into Denny’s to order two Cobb Salads with Ranch Dressing to-go. 

He wore a very worn, black, baseball style cap, with the letters VIETNAM VETERAN emblazoned on it.

As we were waiting (NOT 6-feet away as is politically and covid-19 correct in today’s world) standing next-to-one-another, I said to him..

“Never once, not one time, have I ever heard anyone in authority say the War in Vietnam was a disaster. A total mistake. A mistake that cost 57,939 dead or missing members of the United States Armed Forces not to mention the other thousands who were wounded but lived and the families who suffered their loss.”

We engaged.

He placed his order. I placed mine. Then, as our orders were being prepared, I went to sit on a small couch that would seat three persons. He remained standing. He looked lost-in-thought.

Then he looked over at me. We made eye-contact. I motioned to the seat next me. He came over and joined me. We sat, shoulder-to-shoulder, and I listened to him as he ‘unloaded’ about the horrors of ‘Nam.

Our orders came. He took his and left. I picked mine up and, as I walked out to the street, as fate would have it, he drove up in his enormous black Peterbilt tractor with what must have been a 50-foot long trailer. He rolled down his window, looked down at me, smiled a broad smile, waved, saluted, then eased out onto Historic Route U.S. 66 and Interstate-40 and headed for Modesto, California.

Well Gullible? Was I wrong? I did NOT maintain a 6-foot, Covid-19 social-distance, between the two of us! We got up close and personal because the Vietnam horrors that he shared were VERY up close and very personal in nature.

Covid-19 and social-distancing notwithstanding, in my heart-of-hearts, I did the right thing.

With some deep emotions I sign off .. Cap


  1. Gullible

    I guess time and any repercussions will tell if you did the wrong thing, won’t they?

    If you were by yourself in this, do what you want. While I understand your empathy towards the man, did you consider Patti’s health during that interlude? Therein is the answer to your question.

    You could, however, have the virus and be asymptomatic. Same with the vet. Pray for the man and his wife, that they remain well.

    1. Cap Chastain Post author

      I’ve NOT been ignoring you Gullible. But we’re busy (we DO need food so we MUST go food shopping and that has risks, sometimes we ARE eating out but at take-out-only food places but that too is risky, etc) and we are seeing friends that are important to us and even with them we are taking precautions.

      I’m not saying this isn’t serious but let’s look-at-the-numbers. The U.S. has roughly 330,000,000 people. The current ‘worst estimate’ of Covid-19 deaths is 200,000. Let’s say 1,000,000 (one million) people (NOT two hundred thousand) die. IF my math is correct, this is three tenths of one percent of the population. BUT not everyone is dying. From what we read, for many people, it is a relatively ‘mild’ flu.

      You’re all in, or you’re totally out, on the God thing. Do you realize the serious and very real dangers that I’ve faced during my lifetime of travels? Lifetime? I could say during just the past several years! I’m not talking religion here. I seem to possess some God-given radar as to mixing with other human beings. That truck driver was in Viet Nam so (in theory at least) we could live free. He risked his life daily over there and continues to have very real physical health issues from Viet Nam. Right or wrong I felt a ‘calling’ to speak with him. And so I did.

      With regards to My Dear One, Patti. You have her telephone number.

      Lastly, I have some serious concerns and suspicions about myself that I’m not going to go into here. Patti is well aware of them.

      With Love and Gratitude for having you in our lives Gullible. Cap and Patti.

  2. Gullible

    By the way. While I don’t agree with what you did–the up close and personal part–and only because of Patti, I thought the above was a very well-written piece.

    You drew me in with the beginning line and carried through to the end when he drove off into the distance. At any other time, I would have yelled “Bravo” and thrown roses onto the stage.

    1. Cap Chastain Post author

      Kingman, Arizona, a town of 30,000 people, is probably (statistically speaking) a pretty good place to be Linda. As of now (Wednesday evening the 8th of April) all is well. Thanks for your concern and interest. Cap and Patti

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