Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Bank Teller

There's a teller at my bank who's the kind of person you just don't notice or remember. There's nothing noteworthy about her physically. She's not particularly outgoing. She's just one of those people who does their job well and goes home. She may have another side, a wild shooter girl party streak, enforcer on an all-star Bank league hockey team, compete on Canadian Idol, but I doubt it.

Yet for the last few months, every time I go into the bank, I look for her and I make sure I ask one of the staff how she's doing if she's not there. She was there today, looking worn and tired and a little down. She'd had a rough night.

We lost another soldier in Afghanistan last night and that's where her boyfriend is, serving with the Canadian army. The way the system works is that there is a news release that "A NATO Soldier" has died or been seriously wounded. A few hours later that news bulletin is updated naming the country the casualty is from, followed hours later by an identification of the unit and then the name of the deceased.

I learned this from her one day last fall. It was the first day Canada designated for people to wear red in support of our troops over there. It was also the day another of our servicemen was killed. I got to her wicket and commented on all the flags in the bank and the red ribbons the staff were wearing and she told me they'd kind of gone all out because of her boyfriend. I asked how he was doing and she wasn't sure.

Once a casualty report comes in, the families go into a kind of emotionally frozen "waiting" mode, knowing that as each hour passes, the chances increase that it's someone else getting that dreaded call and not them. Because she's not really family, she won't get that call, it'll go to her boyfriend's mother.

A couple of hours earlier, they'd learned the casualty was in her boyfriend's unit. Since then, nothing. She was scared. The line up behind me was huge. So, I told her to pretend there was something wrong with the cheque I was depositing and go make her phone call. She scooted away and came back looking relieved. The name was out. It wasn't him. And then she felt bad for feeling relieved. Because she knew what someone else was now going through.

There may be a lot of those calls in the coming weeks. Canadian troops are part of a new offensive in Afghanistan and predictions are that casualties will be high.

I don't know whether we should be in Afghanistan or not. Having seen the films of Afghan women being executed in soccer stadiums for teaching school and ancient wonders being dynamited because they represented the "wrong" religion, I'm leaning toward figuring somebody should be doing something.

What does concern me is that our politicians sent our men and women over there and don't seem to be doing as much as they could to help them succeed in their mission and get back safe. The clip below is "Exhibit A" in that argument. It's from VBS.TV, a group I've championed here in the past. Another story our mainstream media is ignoring.

Some of the guns and bullets you'll see in the clip are destined for people bent on killing my bank teller's boyfriend. They're being manufactured and sold with the obvious knowledge of a country that's supposed to be our friend and ally and to whom we send a lot of aid and assistance. Does any of that make sense to you? Or does what happens to an ordinary Canadian, say a bank teller, who does her job, pays her taxes and like her boyfriend, supports what their government says is the right thing to do -- just not matter?

1 comment:

CAROLINE said...

I heard something yesterday. David Foster is in town, being inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. And he's on a mission. He's a pilot and a fan of the Snowbirds (our Blue Angels for you Americans). And he's on a mission to raise 380 million dollars to re-outfit them and get them into this century of aeronautics. He actually met with the Prime Minister about it.

No disrespect to David Foster or the Snowbirds because they have a purpose to fill, but wouldn't that kind of dough be better served actually providing equipment to our service men and women, who are being sent into untenable situations with little more than duct tape.

Maybe we need to organize a Live Aid type thing to actually get equipment and supplies to the military serving, because they really need them and it doesn't seem like our government's doing much to really look after the people who are putting their lives on the line as peacekeepers.

My heart goes out to your bank teller.