Wedding Woes

For your personal space & sanity, carry an extra set of clothes.

OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
 

Dear Prudence,

I am a career senior military officer stationed in a U.S. city with a small but bustling base. When I’m in civilian clothes, I read as just another 40-something dad, but in uniform I’m the BIG DAMN HERO. I get thanked for my service to the point of distraction. I’ve had parents force their kids to come up to me to thank me in front of my own kids at school drop-off. People try to bring up the details of combat, which I’m not interested in talking about. The worst is at the grocery store. I often stop by on my way home to pick up ingredients for dinner, and for whatever reason the produce aisle seems to bring out the most obsessed veteran-hunters. Handshakes. Bro-fists and chest bumps. Crazy-uncle jingoism. And so many uninvited hugs.

Recently, while I was grabbing some produce off the shelves, a woman came up to me from behind and initiated a hug completely out of nowhere. A lost-in-thought combat veteran is not a good person to surprise. I spun around, took a step back, and asked the lady not to touch me. She backed away with tears in her eyes, and another woman who’d seen what happened gave me a dirty look. I told her that I was just as entitled to my personal space as she was and that my clothes weren’t an invitation for physical contact. Yesterday in the checkout line a woman approached me, looking nervous, then handed me a $100 gift card for the grocery store. I told her I didn’t want it and she should give it to someone who needs it (I get paid plenty), but she insisted. (I took the card and donated it to a local charity that serves refugees.)

I’ve had enough. I’ve thought about changing before I head home, but carrying civilian clothes to work in addition to gym clothes is a pain. Mostly I just want to be left alone. I don’t want any more hugs, but I don’t want to appear ungrateful. Is declining hugs and unwanted charity rude, making me a bad representative of the service? Or should I start packing dad clothes in my gym bag?

Re: For your personal space & sanity, carry an extra set of clothes.

  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    @mrsconn23 I couldn't wait anymore!  Had to start posting them!
  • Change into civilian clothes. It's a hassle, but it will avoid these unwanted interactions. 
    MissKittyDanger
  • kvrunskvruns member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    I would say choose the lesser of two evils when it comes to the hassles. Is it a bigger hassle to change clothes or to deal with the interactions? 
    short+sassy
  • DrillSergeantCatDrillSergeantCat Oklahoma City, OK member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    levioosa said:
    The part about hugging from behind made me cringe. My ex had severe ptsd. I didn't dare surprise him. That lady is lucky she didn't get hit out of pure reflex. This guy needs to change. It's a pain, but an easy solution. 
    I don't have PTSD and I still think my first instinct would be to punch!
    MissKittyDangershort+sassyTrixieJess
  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    levioosa said:
    The part about hugging from behind made me cringe. My ex had severe ptsd. I didn't dare surprise him. That lady is lucky she didn't get hit out of pure reflex. This guy needs to change. It's a pain, but an easy solution. 
    I don't have PTSD and I still think my first instinct would be to punch!
    right.  It's a liiiiiiiitle weird. 

    short+sassy
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    levioosa said:
    The part about hugging from behind made me cringe. My ex had severe ptsd. I didn't dare surprise him. That lady is lucky she didn't get hit out of pure reflex. This guy needs to change. It's a pain, but an easy solution. 
    I don't have PTSD and I still think my first instinct would be to punch!
    I definitely gut punched an actor in a haunted house once by accident. They jumped out at me and my first impulse was defense. I felt really bad. But ptsd reflexes are pretty scary. It also takes them awhile to calm down when they get surprised, whereas you or I would be like "oh shit, my bad." 


    image
    DrillSergeantCat
  • levioosa said:
    levioosa said:
    The part about hugging from behind made me cringe. My ex had severe ptsd. I didn't dare surprise him. That lady is lucky she didn't get hit out of pure reflex. This guy needs to change. It's a pain, but an easy solution. 
    I don't have PTSD and I still think my first instinct would be to punch!
    I definitely gut punched an actor in a haunted house once by accident. They jumped out at me and my first impulse was defense. I felt really bad. But ptsd reflexes are pretty scary. It also takes them awhile to calm down when they get surprised, whereas you or I would be like "oh shit, my bad." 
    If M walks up behind me and I don't hear him, I jump. I can't imagine someone with PTSD having to deal with that
  • I can't imagine anyone feeling it is appropriate to hug a complete stranger, but people can be nuts.  I bet celebrities have the same problem.

    Contrary to popular belief, I don't thank military people for their service.  It is not that I don't appreciate what they do, but the response I've always received back is discomfort.  Plus, my H served in the military and every once in awhile the subject comes up.  I know it bugs him when people thank him for his service, though he's never quite been able to articulate why.

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • kimmiinthemittenkimmiinthemitten Detroit, MI member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers

    I can't imagine anyone feeling it is appropriate to hug a complete stranger, but people can be nuts.  I bet celebrities have the same problem.

    Contrary to popular belief, I don't thank military people for their service.  It is not that I don't appreciate what they do, but the response I've always received back is discomfort.  Plus, my H served in the military and every once in awhile the subject comes up.  I know it bugs him when people thank him for his service, though he's never quite been able to articulate why.

    Me either except for unique circumstances. Often time I just make eye contact and smile and nod (like when boarding a plane). 
    image
    short+sassy
  • levioosa said:
    levioosa said:
    The part about hugging from behind made me cringe. My ex had severe ptsd. I didn't dare surprise him. That lady is lucky she didn't get hit out of pure reflex. This guy needs to change. It's a pain, but an easy solution. 
    I don't have PTSD and I still think my first instinct would be to punch!
    I definitely gut punched an actor in a haunted house once by accident. They jumped out at me and my first impulse was defense. I felt really bad. But ptsd reflexes are pretty scary. It also takes them awhile to calm down when they get surprised, whereas you or I would be like "oh shit, my bad." 
    If M walks up behind me and I don't hear him, I jump. I can't imagine someone with PTSD having to deal with that
    Person with PTSD here. When H and I were first dating, he used to sneak up on me thinking he was being funny. But the one time he did it outside in the dark and I screamed and burst into tears he finally understood why that wasn't a good idea - and certainly wasn't funny. 

    The LW must have been pretty shaken up in the produce section - and seriously who just walks up to a stranger and hugs them??? I think the LW needs to pack clothes to change into before leaving work. 
    kimmiinthemitten
  • levioosa said:
    levioosa said:
    The part about hugging from behind made me cringe. My ex had severe ptsd. I didn't dare surprise him. That lady is lucky she didn't get hit out of pure reflex. This guy needs to change. It's a pain, but an easy solution. 
    I don't have PTSD and I still think my first instinct would be to punch!
    I definitely gut punched an actor in a haunted house once by accident. They jumped out at me and my first impulse was defense. I felt really bad. But ptsd reflexes are pretty scary. It also takes them awhile to calm down when they get surprised, whereas you or I would be like "oh shit, my bad." 
    My first instinct is to punch first and ask questions later. Part of that is having been raised by a dad who took self-defense training seriously. 

    I would never approach anyone in uniform unless I knew them. Who are these people? 
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