I was heading back to work today on my mountain bike. I didn't fasten the straps on my helmet due to the fact I had just finished a fast 1hr ride in the midday Hawaiian heat. Needless to say, the helmet's pretty nasty after a ride like that, so I just cover my head rather than put the sweaty straps over my chin...it's only a 1 mile ride to work, and I do a casual spin on the MTB. Anyhow, as I'm turning the corner onto the main road a guy at the stop sign yells out his window "Sir, you need to fasten the straps on your helmet". What motivated this young man to say that? Does he have a vested interest in my helmet being strapped? Is this a personal crusade of his, akin to my crusade against jackasses on cellphones that nearly run me over on a weekly basis? I have a vested interest in jackasses getting off the cellphone, because they're a threat to my survival. How is my strap-less helmet a threat to this guy's survival? Why does he care? In the end, I just gave him a polite wave and thought "at least the guy used proper etiquette when admonishing me".
That incident spurred another thought on the way to work, as it made me recall other unsolicited, somewhat ballsy admonitions and concerns other junior military members have expressed to me. The most recent happened last week at the doctor's office, when in the waiting room a young airman looks at my boots and says "you should let me shine your boots"...found that ballsy, maybe rude, but odd. I didn't know how to respond other than to say "wow, you have shiny boots, i bet you'd do a good job. mine do look bad, but that's not important to me." I don't think I'd ever comment on the boots of someone senior to me...guess I don't have the balls.
The other memory is from several years ago. I was in Korea, nursing a big hangover, but still in my uniform at the food court. I felt awful, and probably looked a bit nauseous. Out of the blue, a young airman came over to me and said, "Sir, I noticed that you look troubled. Would you like me to pray with you? I think you need Jesus in your life." Needless to say that one really threw me off...never thought I'd be accosted by an evangelical on a military base. Although there are lots of those in the Air Force, most know when to keep their mouth shut, and they'd agree that they shouldn't try to convert another military member that is not their peer, regardless of whether they're at work or drinking a cup of coffee at a food court. Secondly, this guy's in Korea...how could've not assumed I was hungover like everyone else and just left me alone. Or is this how the guy works? He sees us hungover sinners and tries to convert us when we're most vulnerable? How is this in his interest?
These are three instances, where I would probably say nothing...is it that these people are more interested in looking out for their fellow man? Does it make me more selfish that I wouldn't correct someone doing something "unsafe" so long as it doesn't affect my own safety? Is it that I am somehow less proud about the appearance of a uniform if I neglect to tell a senior officer his boots aren't shiny? Can't I assume that he can judge his boots' shine for himself and would shine them if he gave a shit? Should I try to impose my religion or lack thereof onto vulnerable hungover sinners next time I'm in Korea?