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No One Is Stealing Valor But You’re Stealing Time!

, , , , , , , , | Right | February 8, 2023

During the utterly unprecedented snowfall that hit Texas like a semi-truck going the wrong way down a busy highway, there was a day I had to walk to a supermarket because my car just plain refused to start. As it was very, VERY cold, I was wearing layers: a sweatshirt, a hoodie, a beanie, a snood (which is basically a fitted mask from nose to neck), and flannel pajama pants under my jeans.

On top of my hoodie was an old military jacket that I bought from a thrift store which didn’t provide a lot of cover, but layers are layers, and it was cold.

I also happened to have the bottoms of my jeans tucked into the tops of my work boots to keep the two feet of snow I had to trudge through out of my pants. These boots — to play devil’s advocate — could be mistaken for military boots at a distance, even though they’re not.

When I was just about to walk into the supermarket that some woman I’d never seen before (and never saw again) sprinted up to me and almost literally shoved her phone in my face, clearly recording.

Stranger: “Hey! You can’t wear that!”

Me: *Blinks* “…Huh?”

Stranger: *Points at my jacket* “Take that off! It’s stolen valor!”

I looked down at myself and blinked again.

Me: “…It’s a jacket.”

Stranger: “You’re trying to get a discount! Just buy your groceries like everyone else!”

I realized she was recording me, like the “Stolen Valor Revealed” videos on YouTube. I decided, perhaps naively, to try and explain the misunderstanding.

Me: “Oh, no, you’re mistaken. I’m not trying to get a military discount—”

She interrupted me and poked me in the chest to indicate my jacket.

Stranger: “Why else would you wear that, then?!”

It took me a few seconds to look around at the TWO FEET of snow that had gotten dumped on Texas almost overnight and then back at her.

Me: “‘Cause it’s cold.”

She blinked, took a moment herself to look around, and then blinked again. I could almost hear the gears clicking in her head as they stalled out after being given simple logic. At that point, I figured that, while she was distracted, I was just going to get inside the supermarket before my hands turned blue. And that way, I would have witnesses around me in case she escalated matters.

As it happened, I didn’t see the lady again until I was heading for the registers, and she was “hidden” behind a display, evidently thinking she was being sneaky, with her phone up again, ready to call me out. So, I preempted it.

Me: *To the cashier* “Just for the record, this jacket isn’t to mark me military; it’s just because it’s cold.”

The cashier looked a bit confused, as though I didn’t even need to say that, before nodding politely.

Cashier: “Um, okay, sir. Do you have a loyalty card?”

The transaction went without a hitch; I paid with my card, and I very specifically did NOT get any kind of discount. The woman who’d approached me wasn’t there anymore, and I figured she’d given up and found someone else to bother.

That was until I made my way to the front door. Ms. Stolen Valor was standing next to it with the very confused-looking manager in tow. I let out a sigh and held my receipt out to him before she could throw around any accusations.

Me: “Here’s my receipt. She’s claiming stolen valor, right?”

The manager also sighed, already looking like it had been a long day, took my receipt, gave it a quick pass with his eyes, and then handed it back to me.

Manager: “You’re fine, sir. Was she bothering you before?”

Me: “Yeah, she ambushed me outside, and she tried to sneak a video at the registers, but I basically ignored her. Am I free to go?”

The strange woman was going red in the face and was possibly two seconds from stomping her feet.

Manager: “Unless you want to file a harassment charge, sure.”

Me: “That won’t be necessary; it’s too cold. Sorry to leave you with her.”

Manager: *Chuckles mirthlessly* “I’ll live, I hope.”

I nodded politely to the manager and then passed right by the accusing woman. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see she was seething, clearly upset that she didn’t get a million-view callout video or whatever, but I just plain did not care. The manager, however, did keep her with him so she didn’t follow me down the street, and I can only imagine — and hope — that she at least got a reprimand for her antics.

I guess at the end of the day, I didn’t steal any valor, but I did get my time wasted.

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