A Nurse with a Gun

Friday, July 03, 2009

A Dollar Seventy-nine


Yesterday, as I was starting an IV on a patient in preparation for sedation, I noticed a tattoo on his arm. It was a Japanese koi. The sweep of the fins and the old but delicate line work told me this tattoo was not the crude marking of a stateside tattoo artist. The old man I was inserting the IV catheter into was a stoic sort, grizzled and grey haired with bulging eyes. He did not flinch as I slid the 18 gauge needle under his skin and into his radial vein.

Later, as the old man awoke in Recovery, I walked over and said "Reveille Sailor, all hands on deck. Time to heave out and tryst up." He smiled through the evaporating post surgical mental fog and pain .

"How did you know I was a sailor?" he muttered in slurred speech.

"Well, with that haircut, I knew you were no Marine," I replied. "I recognized your tattoo. Okinawa or Honshu?"

"I was on the Bon Homme Richard , CV-31, did a couple of world cruises and Korea. I got the koi in Yokosuka."

"I was on the Midway, home ported out of Yoko," I told him. "The honch was still hopping when I was there, but the exchange rate made it kind of expensive."

After he was more awake, we talked about his surgery a bit, I let him know what his recovery would entail. Before he rolled out and I went to the cafeteria, I told him "Thank you for your service."

"No, son," he replied. "Thank you for yours."

Update to today, and an open letter to Home Depot.

Dear Sirs,

Today, I went in your store to purchase two air conditioner filters. I do not normally shop at Home Depot because several years back your store refused a return on an item that had been purchased the same day, and did not function. Never the less, since Lowes and a local home owned hardware store were out of the size filter I needed, I decided to let bygones be bygones, and give your store another chance. After all, what could go wrong with an air conditioner filter?

As I entered your store, I took note of a sign at the entrance heralding a ten percent discount for active military, reserves, retirees and veterans. "That's nice," I remarked to my wife, as I went to the heating and cooling aisle, "I'll have to ask for that."

I found my filter, and I picked up a spare as well and approached the register. As the young cashier rang me up, I asked for the 10% discount for veterans. She asked to see my driver's license. This was rather confusing, since I was paying cash. Then she said she needed to see ID to confirm my status as a veteran.

I informed your employee that I do not normally walk around with my DD214, but I would still like the discount, because I was indeed a veteran. Now most people would take one look at me with the military style haircut that I still wear, and the posture forged into my spine and know that military service was in my background. A veteran isn't hard to spot, and the monetary figure in question with this transaction was one dollar and seventy-nine cents. $1.79. After a couple of misguided remarks from your cashier and a conversation with the manager, I was awarded my dollar seventy-nine.

I served six years active duty. I served ten years inactive. I fought in one war, and a couple of campaigns. I have 123 days of actual combat, and numerous days that qualified for combat pay and hazardous duty pay in my military record. I am a member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. I served with distinction and honor. I am a veteran. One dollar and seventy-nine cents.

The slight I suffered from your cashier is minor. My purchase was small, and my military service relatively insignificant in comparison to others. In our city, we have numerous veterans. Some served in World War II. One was held prisoner by the Japanese, suffering brutal torture and starvation. Others served in Korea. Two were held captive in Hanoi, and still bear the scars from torture they endured while trying to survive. Many who live in our city fought in Vietnam. Younger men and women have fought in the Middle East. They have come home missing limbs and broken. They struggle to regain the life they left the United States with.

Suppose a Marine who lost a leg in Iraq, proudly walked into your store on a titanium prosthesis to purchase lumber for a project and asked for the discount you are offering. Lets suppose the purchase was two hundred dollars. Would the twenty dollars offered make up for his sacrifice? No.

Suppose a gentleman who served in Burma as a volunteer under General Claire Chenault, as a Flying Tiger, who was shot down over the South China sea, and who swam among sharks for three days awaiting rescue was to come into your store to buy a two dollar tube of caulk. Would the twenty cents you allowed him make up for his sacrifice? No way in Hell.

What about the husband who is struggling on a fixed income who hopes that the five dollars he will save on his fifty dollar purchase in your store will help him and his wife make ends meet? Is the fact that he still walks on crutches after having his legs broken in multiple places by his Japanese captors enough to prove he is a veteran? Does he need to contact the Department of Defense for a copy of his service record to present to your cashier?

These men walk among us. They are shopping at your store. They are our fathers, our grandfathers, our sisters, brothers, and our sons and daughters. They are real, and they do not carry an ID card to prove they are a veteran. They might be a tattooed biker, an accountant, a doctor, a waitress, or an unemployed vagrant with dreadlocks and a drug habit. If they served they are all veterans. Your cashier should not question the service of any of them. Not one. A discount is a poor excuse for a thank you. More over, a discount becomes less when the person receiving it must prove they deserve it. When that person must meet your standard to receive your corporate "thank you," then the gratitude is meaningless. Neither I, nor my brethren have anything to prove to Home Depot. You can keep your discount until you learn that it is no thank you without genuine appreciation.

At this point, it appears that your offering is no more than an apathetic and cynical advertising gimmick devised to take advantage of the service that others have given our country. You, and the employees you place in your stead before the public may not know what a veteran is, and you may not care. That is fine by me, and by thousands of other veterans. Using our military service and our sacrifices for your financial gain, however, is unacceptable.

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July. Independence Day. Your store will be open for business. It is my sincere hope that you will educate your employees in what constitutes a veteran and what constitutes appreciation. It is apparent Home Depot does not understand the meaning of either.


Please feel free to circulate........

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Blogger Diogenes said...

Corporate stupidity knows no bounds....

Thank you for your service Xavier!

9:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done sir.

10:03 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Great letter. What is it with places like H/D? Just another reason not to shop there.

By the way. Me: AW-2, Helantisubron 8, stationed first aboard the Ticonderoga,(CV-14), then the Kitty Hawk, (CV-63). 2 West-Pacs on 'the Hawk'. Active duty, 1972 to 1976.

Happy 4th of July sailor!


11:01 PM  
Anonymous Mike B. said...

Thank you for sharing Xavier. I am a student nurse with two semester left before I graduate. I have had many patients that were WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Afghanistan, and Iraqi war veterans. I thank every one of them for their service to our country. I cannot believe how many of them told me that I made their day by that one little thank you.

I think that any business that offers this type of discount and asks for proof should be ashamed of themselves for taking advantage of the sacrifice our veterans have made for this country.

I would like to thank you for your service to our country. I would also like to thank you for setting a good example and being an inspiration to male nursing students everywhere. I truly enjoy everything you share with us in your blog.

11:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw that sign today too and wondered "How do they know?", then proceeded into the Home Depot without another thought.

Now I'm having second thoughts about the new flag I bought there. I should have got it somewhere else.

12:27 AM  
Anonymous OrangeNeckInNY said...

I don't shop at Home Despot anymore. I've taken my business to Lowes because they have better customer service up and down their aisles. At H.D., I'd waste half an hour trying to get someone to help me out with an item. At Lowes, they come up to me. Lowes' returns are also quick and painless.

Thank you for you service, Xavier.

Happy Independence Day!!

2:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes. Well said by the rest of the readership. Thank you kindly for your service. There are people in this country who understand the sacrifice that surrounded your decision to serve, and appreciate the results that were brought forth.


5:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why not 10% discount year round?

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Paul said...


It is quite simple. Home Depot offer a discount if you have been in the military. The military does provide a DD-214 to you upon discharge.
If you want the discount provide your military ID.

You obviously have never worked with the general public. If you don't ask for proof of military service soon, EVERYBODY starts asking for the "10% military service discount".

LOTS of folks like to claim they are/were in the military without every serving a day. A short haircut and upright posture or tattoo proves nothing to an 18 year old cashier earning $10 at the local Home Depot.

Want the discount? Show the ID.

Simple as that.

Buck up sailor, you are crying over NOTHING.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous HankH said...

Thank you for your service Xavier. My wife, kids and I get to rest easy at night because of the sacrifices of brave men like you.


8:18 AM  
Blogger Ed Rasimus said...

Home Depots vary. I've got one fifteen miles one way and another sixteen miles the opposite direction. One is a joy, the other a disaster. Both, however, have given me no questions asked refunds on a variety of erroneous purchases.

The discount business used to be all the time. I notice on your sign pic a termination date. Too bad.

If they choose to do something like that they must have a policy for identifying vets. Active duty and retirees are no problem--we've got ID cards, but vets usually don't and there aren't any distingishing characteristics.

Sounds to me like you encountered a poorly-trained clerk who lacked jdugment. Too bad.

On a brighter note, you made that sailor's day. Good on ya!

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I just shopped the Home Depot last week for 3 bags of sand-came to 10.50 before tax. To get the discount, had to provide VA id, driver's license, sign a damn form, and wait some 7 minutes for a supervisor to show up to punch the ok code into the register. The cashier was apologetic and friendly, the super FINALLY waddled her way over, also apologized for delay, said they just want to be sure you really qualify for the discount- just not worth it- my local Mini-Mart started giving me the Senior Citizen Thursday discount 3 years ago, without even asking my age- Now THAT'S depressing! Happy 4th All!

8:23 AM  
Anonymous dltpilot said...

It amazes me how we form our opinions of a company based on one lousy employee. Back around Memorial Day, a day to honor those who didn't return, I too went into the local Home Depot here in Fuquay-Varina. I forget what I was purchasing but when I got to the register the clerk asked me if I was a veteran. When I replied I was he told me I would get a 10% discount. I didn't know about the program, I didn't ask for the discount, and I didn't have to show any kind of ID. Maybe we shouldn' be so quick to slam the company for the actions of one employee or manager.
USAF 69-73
VFW Life Member

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Lowe's offers the 10% military discount year round. All you have to do is ask.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your post has merit, but, as someone who has worked at HD for a while and was part of a group of employees who were advocating for this, consider it a "first step" with regards to this.

Before you get too "anti-HomeDepot" on your blog, also recall that my employer has provided 100% pay to all military personal that are called up to serve. None of this 50% pay or what have you. Corperate did it right the first time.

My feeling is this, don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

I did not know that. Are you saying if an employee is shipped out to Iraq for a year, their family still continues to receive their pay in full for the duration? If so, that is truly remarkable.

Paul, ordinarily I would agree. However, questioning my integrity, honesty and my military service over a dollar and seventy-nine cents? Sorry. A customer was lost on that one.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Paul said...


I guess it is all about you.
Nobody questioned your integrity or honesty or military service.

Home Depot was only asking you to provide proof that you had military service.

Walking tall and having a tattoo or wearing a T-shirt hardly qualifies as providing proof of military service.

Get over yourself and in the future just bring your ID.

A request to see your credentials of military service is not some huge affront to your "integrity".

1:42 PM  
Blogger nature223 said...

xav...the "other major gun board"
aka "THE GUN BOARD"(and I wont say their name),has a whine fest actively going on about you. mostly for they DONT understand the meaning imparted by the post you made.
I read it as this:"why are you QUESTIONING my service to our country?,and my license will not attest to my past military experiance",and also "the young person running the register,simply treated you as a liar"
in both counts your completely justified in your anger.
as for the service you did for our nation..thank you Xavier.
as for the catty armchair commandoes at the "other gun board",why dont you start blogging,then you can rate the responses/readeship that Xavier does..until then,whine on on
the "ONE MAJOR GUN BOARD",and seek your mutual buttkissery upon each others hind ends,your making this point on WHAT day of the year?.
IMHO..that sucks,bigtime,when your seeking to THANK those who sacrificed of their lives and other efforts to defend and help our nation exist
and it isnt ar15.com either,they have a bit more class then these people.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

While I'm not a big fan of Home Depot vs Lowes, I was there buying some Behr paint over Memorial Day weekend. They were having there $5/20 dollars of the 1/5 gallon pails of paint. At check out the cashier asked me
"Are you Military?"
I responded "No...? I'm a Firefighter."
He said, "Good enough." Then rang up the 10%(that I knew nothing about previously)

3:34 PM  
Blogger Thomas Johnson said...

Xavier: I believe that HD makes up the pay differential if any, so the family does not suffer a pay cut for service, which is better than most employers, as I understand the way reserves are called up and paid.

The cashiers should ask if the customer is a veteran. If they get some liars, the good PR of the conversation to the rest of the check out line would be worth it.

6:24 PM  
Blogger Old NFO said...

Well said and SO damn sad... T.M. we crossed paths in Cubi, 1975... I was an AW2 in VP-4 at that time.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Jacob Da Jew said...

Thank you for your service, Xav, and Happy 4th.

I also had a run in with HD, stood my ground and was "rewarded" with a free grill.


Love the blog, read it regularly.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

We will have to agree to disagree Paul. Veterans do not carry ID cards. They have a DD214, which is frequently filed at the courthouse of their home of record when they separated from the military. I'm not going to carry a DD214 around in case some merchandiser decides to give me a discount if I present it.

I told the woman I was a veteran and asked for a discount that was offered to veterans. She said and I quote, "Prove it." That's fine, it's a dollar seventy nine. I needed air conditioner filters that were not readily available else where. I purchased them. Because of the way I was treated when I asked for the discount that was offered on a sign at the door, I will not return. You may think that is petty. Paul, I do not have to live up to your expectations.

You may not see a problem with the cashier's behavior. I do. I explained clearly why in the post. I guess you just don't get it. Discounts for "appreciation" are not for appreciation if the person has to jump through hoops to receive it. They are just a marketing ploy. That's fine too, just don't try to make it into what it is not.

One thing is for damned certain, I do not like being called a liar, and I did not need the dollar seventy-nine discount. Home Depot had the opportunity to show appreciation, and they chose not to. Giving the discount is not appreciation. That means nothing. Treating customers with courtesy shows appreciation. Home Depot failed in that regard with me.

11:38 PM  
Anonymous Paul said...


The real solution would have been for Home Depot to post in the 10% discount offering "10% discount for all military personnel with military ID".
Apparently HD has not trained their cashier in the proper procedure for extending this discount and also HD may not have considered the proper way to ID military (and former military personnel, including retirees).

If you were THIS upset regarding the treatment the cashier gave you when this cashier said "prove it", you could have responded (as I have when receiving poor service from a low level staff member) "Is there a manager around that can help me?".

Once the manager arrives on site you could have asked "I see that on the entrance sign HD offers a 10% discount to military personnel, I am former military I would like my discount". You could have also asked "how does HD determine if a person is former military?".
You could have also at that time told the manager that when you asked for your 10% discount the cashier said "prove it" and you felt this was disrespectful.

The manager would then have an opportunity to explain HD sales policies and you as a consumer would have an opportunity to give direct feedback. The manager would also be able to speak to the cashier in regards to how they interact with customers.

This how problems get solved, especially with retailers.

If the encounter with one female cashier at a big box store makes you never want to shop there again I would say you have a pretty thin skin and very quickly you are going to run out of stores to shop in.

HD may have failed in regards to how they treated you; but you as an adult instead of trying to solve a simple and everyday problem at a retailer decided to turn this encounter into some sort of personal integrity battle.

9:59 AM  
Blogger . said...


You didn't say how she "asked" for proof until recently. The way she "asked" was disrespectful, whether it had been to a senior citizen asking for a senior citizen's discount, or to someone who happened to pick up a gun for and got paid by the U.S. Government. It had everything to do with a rude cashier (a dime a dozen) and nothing to do with you having served the State.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...


Please cease commenting. You have no idea whether I spoke to the manager or not.

The fact is, I waited at the front of Home Depot for ten minutes for a manger to find the time to speak to me on the matter. I was courteous, and I received the discount from the manager, not the cashier.

None of that is pertinent in this blog post or the letter to Home Depot. The discount is not the point. The point is obviously lost on you, or you have some bone to pick.

This letter was writen after the fact Paul. I included what I thought was pertinent. The manager understood exactly what I was trying to get across, others understand exactly what I am trying to get across, but you simply want to waste my time with silly argument.

I stand firm on this, I don't give a damn what you think, and you have no right to tell me how I should do anything. Go find another blog to troll.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Medic2RN said...


I hope you included a check for $1.79 made out to Home Depot.

Thank you for ALL that you did & do.

Stay Safe,

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just as a follow up. Here is the link to the HD website that discusses "equalized pay".


Sorry for the long URL.

During the first deployment for a reservist, they payed folks who were called up at 100% and considered their commission pay to be a bonus from the gubmint. I know this because I worked with a guy who got full pay and his military commission. Now, he did NOT get full bennefits from HD, as those were covered by the military. (which is nice, as he had a lower co-pay through the gubmint that what I did)

It only states "equalized" pay, but, again, back when it first started they didn't deduct from your regular pay what the gubmint was putting towards your duty pay.

The nice thing is, you got to come back with the exact same status and pay scale as before.

So, again, don't go throwing the baby out with the bath water.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Thernlund said...

I read all the post and all the comments, and somewhere along the line a scenario occurred to me...

Someone steps up to the register, gets rung up, asks for the discount, and the cashier says, "Oh! You're in the military?" The purchaser scrutinizes the cashier and answers, "I was. I'm a veteran." Cashier says, "Good deal! Thank you for your service. Here's your discount!"

Said purchaser then cocks an eyebrow and says "How do you even know I'm telling the truth? How are you appreciating my service with a discount when you're just handing them out to anyone who asks?"

I see your point Sir, and I agree for the most part that the cashier should have applied some critical thinking skills (if indeed she had any).

But overall, the whole thing really sounds like a lose-lose situation for everyone involved. It's a noble thing to honor our servicemen and servicewomen, but possibly Home Depot, and indeed all other businesses, should find other ways to do it.


1:10 AM  
Blogger Sabra said...

After a couple of misguided remarks from your cashier and a conversation with the manager, I was awarded my dollar seventy-nine.

Perhaps it's just me, but I think this covers the fact that Xavier did indeed ask to speak to a manager. ('Cause, really, unless he was throwing things, they don't come over on their own.)

Vets don't get IDs. No one in his right mind walks around with his DD-214 in his pocket. It's too valuable, and can be a royal bitch to replace. It's pretty much impossible to verify that someone's been in the military (God knows you look at my ex-husband and "submariner for 14 years" isn't the first thing that pops into your head) and discharged after anything short of 20. That's why every Military discount I've ever come across is "with military ID."

I'm glad that they're offering a discount, but if you're going to be dumb enough to offer something that's wide open, you better not d* your customers around on it.

2:38 AM  
Anonymous ditto said...

After serving my 6 years as a submariner, I would just a as well not have to prove my worthiness to a employee of any retail business.
I would have passed on the 10% discount for the exact reasons Xavier found it to be a major pain in the butt.
I know what I did and so do my close friends and relatives. That is enough for me.

As for Paul. What planet are you from?

5:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your talk about the Honch brings back some fine (if not a little fuzzy) memories of Yoko. I was on the Hewitt (DD-966) from 93-95 out f Yoko. Loved it there!

9:27 AM  
Blogger Pawpaw said...

Which is just another reason I don't shop at Home Depot. They're idiots, generally.

I found a small local lumber yard where I get most of my building materials. They know me by name and greet me with a cheerful "Hello, Mr. Dennis" when I come in.

They generally beat the prices of the big chains and they load my truck cheerfully.

Oh, and Xav. If they won't thank you, I will. Thanks for your service.

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Scott said...

"Veterans do not carry ID cards. They have a DD214, which is frequently filed at the courthouse of their home of record when they separated from the military."

I have never heard of this. What office at the courthouse would accept and keep it?

As for Home Depot, I find their cashier rude and their policy reasonable and sound.

Semper Peratus.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

It is in the same area that marriage licenses, deeds, surveys and other important personal papers are archived. I suppose it is called different things at different courthouses, but most courthouses have such an area. The original DD214 can be taken to the Clerk of Court, it gets their seal embossed on it, and it is filed away. Afterwards, if a copy is needed, the recipent can get a copy of the original from the clerk of court certified to be true for a small fee. This protects it from loss through fire or flood, assuming the courthouse doesn't burn down.......

When I left the Navy in 1991, this was the advice we were given on discharge. I followed it with my DD214.

10:32 PM  
Blogger Jarubla said...

Beauty of a prelude!

The letter to Home Depot is powerful. I hope they stand up a bit taller and get rid of the gimmick.

Had the last two verses of America The Beautiful come into my head:

"O beautiful, for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness, and ev'ry gain divine!

O beautiful, for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years,
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!"

12:16 AM  
Anonymous Sans Authoritas said...


"Liberated" by whom, from whom? Who, in the past 180 years, has effectively occupied or ever had the logistical capacity to effectively invade and occupy the land under the U.S?

Eurasia has always been at war with Oceania.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can say is Xavier, you need to write a book. Theres a book titled Soldier of the Great War. I don't have your education or writing abilities. This book is one of the most eloquent I've ever read. This sould be your next career.

9:07 PM  

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