Wednesday, June 01, 2005


I remember back in my 2nd year of college one of the priests held a carwash fundraiser for the poor folks in Houston. All benefits would go towards providing food and shelter for them. I remember being introduced to one of the homeless guys by the priest. The homeless guy glared at me with the most pissed off look you could imagine. He says, "Vietnamese!" I, not wanting to cause a scene, smiled and said, "Yeah, how did you know?" The homeless guy stepped right up to me again with the same pissed off look and said, "I was there. 3 years 5 months 24 days. I lost a lot of really good friends there."

At this point, the priest tried to intervene before a fight broke out. However, I kept my cool and figured I'd outsmart this guy. I stared right back at him with an equally pissed off look and responded, "I was there too. In fact, I was born there. I left 2 years, 7 months, and 16 days after I was born." (okay, that was a lie because I left 5 months after I was born). Then, I raised my voice to the point where I was almost screaming at the guy, "You lost friends, but I lost family!" (yes, that's actually true).

I continued, "My family fought alongside and died with 'your friends'! (true). My father has only one leg (that's a lie) because he was shot by an AK-47 (true. 3 rounds into his calf). So, don't you go and tell me about your god damn hard life."

At this point, the priest completely stepped between us. However, that was no longer necessary. The homeless vet's glare disappeared and he reached out to shake my hand. He admitted that he didn't think about the Vietnamese soldiers who fought. After that, we had a really nice conversation.

Sometimes a little exaggeration mixed in with the truth will help calm tense situations.