Friday, September 02, 2005

Supplied by Arkansas

With a full belly, I head to the middle school for another supply of ice and water. There are new troops handing out the rations. And there is now a maze of squating pallets for the car to navigate past.

MREs? they ask?

Yes, please! Kosher ones, if you have them?

A case goes in the back. The Kosher ones taste better. Half will go to my grandparents.

Water? they ask?

Yes, two, please.

Instead of two gallons, two cases of bottled water go in the back. Half will go to my grandparents.

Ice? they ask?

Yes, two, please.

Instead of two bags, they begin to fill my trunk until they can barely close it. Half will go to my grandparents.

So, while I'm waiting, I talk to the troops.

Hey, man, thank you! Thank you for coming. Sorry for the heat and humidity. But we really appreciate everything you're doing for us.

No problem, sir. We're glad to be here with you.

Where were you before this?

We're National Guard Reserve, from Arkansas. They called up our unit on Tuesday, and we made it down last night.

Thank you,guys! Thank you, so much.

No problem, sir. Come back when you need more.

And I drive off, bordering on tears and choking up at the unparalleled show of generosity these kids are giving us. A couple of days ago they were safe at their home in Arkansas. And now they're down in the pit of South Hell, dressed in long-sleeved, long-pants camos. Without power and away from their families. Trapped like the rest of us Gulf rats.

And they're smiling as they hand me the sole means of supplies my family and my grandparents may see for weeks or months.

I fight back the tears and wipe my nose. This damn storm, I think. Look at what it has done to me. It's turning me into a blubbering idiot.

Thank you! Thank you, for sending those boys from Arkansas. Another godsend.

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