Sep 04 2012

A Coke and a Smile

Published by at 3:54 AM under Comm 300

It was another sweltering day in the ancient city of Babylon.  Having stood watch overnight (with a 6’7, 280lbs. homosexual Texan) had left me on edge.  Even on his knees in our foxhole, begging for my affection, he overshadowed me. Thank God he didn’t attempt to get physical or I might have been in some serious trouble.

It was Tuesday and like it or not, it was my turn to babysit “the workers”. Each day dozens of locals would wait outside our makeshift base for a chance to pick-up trash or do random odd jobs for $2. None of them spoke English and the few words they did know were never used correctly.

For weeks I had seen them slaving away and by now could tell them apart because they never changed there tattered clothing. I felt sorry for them. It was hot and I was tired.

They trailed behind me fully expecting another day of menial laboring.  A few mustard up the courage to point at my nametape and attempt to say my name. “Green” was all I replied.

I lead them to an open area near one of Saddam’s lavish arenas that rested on a lake they had obviously never seen. My tent was nearby and as they marveled at the lake’s beauty and craftsmanship of the arena, I disappeared inside reemerging with a soccer ball. I was the NCOIC of the camp, it was hot and I was tired. So I spent the remainder of the day watching former Iraqi soldiers and family men play.

At the end of the day I marched them to the site of our shipping containers from America. I could see the uncertainty in their eyes as I opened one overflowing with Skittles, Starbursts, and other various treats from home. I motioned them inside but they didn’t go. I filled a bag and gave it to one, but he refused it. It was like I was tricking them and they didn’t want the disappointment or reprimand. Finally they bit and dove into the sea of candy and snacks filling their bellies and lining their pockets as quickly as they could.

“Mr. Green good…Mr. Green good” was all I could understand.


Our assignment was to give away a 12-pack of soda any way we chose. The watching was the important part and writing about that and how the people responded was the goal. Our professor had shared an anecdote about leaving comic books with the hopes of people taking just one, only to find that someone just came along and took them all. His response, “People are cruel.”

As an older non-traditional student I live in the real world with real bills. My girlfriend and her son love Mountain Dew so that’s the 12-pack I chose. I gave it to them and they didn’t give much thought to it at all, unlike the Iraqis who acted as if I had taken them to El Dorado.

So I saved myself $5 and watched as my gesture went unappreciated. Hopefully I didn’t fail this assignment in doing so.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “A Coke and a Smile”

  1.   Chaseon 05 Sep 2012 at 4:43 AM

    My entry seems a whole lot less interesting now. Awesome.

  2.   Jordanon 05 Sep 2012 at 2:27 PM

    The ending is simply heart-wrenching. I like the story to lead into the ending thought. Well played, Mr. Green.