I've written here before about my weekly trips to take disabled veterans to the VA Medical Facility, but today's run produced an event that I think is worthy of a post of its own, if only because it's the first time this volunteer job reminded me of my old occupation as an Internal Revenue Officer.
Every Friday I get a list of names of vets that I am to take to the VAMC on the following Monday, and as soon as I have it I call the veterans to confirm the pick-up time; this usually produces no problems. However, the list for today's trip included a vet whose phone is not in service so I could not call him ahead of time to tell him when I would be by to pick him up. This is unusual, but he called for a ride so I was determined that he would get one - I am a pretty determined driver.
If I have a valid address, I can find someone, and I had an address for my vet so I went there this morning to pick him up. There was no one out front waiting for a ride when I pulled up, so I tried the phone number one more time and it was still "not in service". So I did what any dedicated driver would do, I went to the door and rang the bell. And when that brought no response, I rang the bell again but this time I added a loud rap on the door (hey, the bell could be out of order). This brought a response.
The window in door was covered with a heavy shade, which the occupant pushed aside to see who was on the other side. The sun was already bright so I was wearing sunglasses, and the DAV emblem on my shirt and the ID badge hanging around my neck are not remarkably different, at a glance, from the IRS logo and badge that I used to carry as a Revenue Officer, and in retrospect the GPS case that was visible on my belt is about the size of the holster for a compact 9mm pistol, so I guess I can understand the concern in the eyes of the young man who opened the door, and the relief he showed when I told him who I was and why I was there.
But for just a brief moment, his reaction took me back to a time when I knocked on doors for a much less welcome purpose, from the "knockee's" perspective anyway, and it gave me a little bit of an adrenaline rush just like the "old days". It's good to know that although I'm retired from law enforcement and only doing volunteer work in service to veterans, I can still "get my man" when I need to.
Next time I'll leave the GPS in the van - I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be any help if the guy really is running from the law.