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  • I dropped out of college after two semesters at Flo Valley. It just wasn’t where I needed to be at that time. Although I was only four years older than the incoming freshmen, I’d had a lifetime of experiences that were foreign to them. Even the professors and their T.A.’s had difficulty relating to the returning vets. We didn’t fit into any handy slot.

    We had already tested ourselves in the real world, alone and far from home. A lot of us no longer took instruction well. We had a wanderlust; a lack of concentration. We wanted something and we didn’t know what. We had already used up four years since high school. Our friends from that time were graduating from college and moving on to the work force. We felt cheated and left behind. It wasn’t fair! We were the ones who served our country in a time of war. We deserved better.

    Mind you, none of this was the reasons I gave at the time. My wife was pregnant and our sole source of support. I needed income.

    It’s only looking back on it now, some 40 years later that all of those thoughts came welling up – I don’t know where they had been hiding. I didn’t intend to say them. But, as I put the pen to paper it had a mind of it’s own.

    I had intended to write about my first semester Sociology class:
    I recognized Chuck Abromovich when I first entered the lecture hall. Oh, I didn’t know him by his name, but he was a vet like me. He just carried himself differently from the rest. He caught my eye and we both nodded and smiled knowingly.

    Our instructor was a cute young lady being actively intimidated by two large gangbangers. Yes, they had them back then. They just hadn’t invented the name yet. Chuck didn’t hesitate other than to check to see that I was on his six. I had to move fast to keep up with him. We split the gap between the two troublemakers and placed ourselves in the seats directly in front of the instructor. They had to take the seats on either sides of us and were furious. They tried using their intimidating looks on us and Chuck laughed. I mean LOUD. He finally stopped and very seriously said, “Boys, you better back off before you get hurt.”

    I have to admit to being just a tad nervous at this time, being more of a lover than a fighter, and not much good at that either. But I had his back. It turned out there wasn’t any violence. They both left the class and we never saw them again. It seems they were just there to terrorize the helpless. They weren't even enrolled.

    I tell this story not to brag about being brave. I’m not. When I’m scared I have just as much trouble holding my water as the next guy. But there will always be bullys. They have to be confronted without hesitation the way Chuck did. Most of the time they will back down. They have no interest in getting hurt themselves. They usually travel in packs and only pick on the weakest.

    Occasionally they don’t back down. I have had my butt kicked a couple of times. Does it hurt? Hell yes! But only for a little while and I always gave as good as I got so they moved on to easier prey.

    I think the proudest I was of my son, Josh was when I saw him step between some boys picking on a smaller kid. He was able to get the kid out of harms way and, because of his unique personality was able to defuse the situation without violence or anyone losing face. It’s a rare quality he has that serves him well. Must be one of those recessive genes that skips every other generation.

    Back to my dropping out of college. I started working, moved to South Carolina for 3 years; moved back to Missouri…anyway some ten years went by before I got a job as a Biomed in my first hospital (see “a fool”) after another aborted attempt at a semester of college at Mizzou.

    The hospital didn’t use personal pagers back then. All pages were overhead:
    “Jon Nadeau to Surgery”,
    “Jon Nadeau call the ER”,
    “ET phone home”.
    All day long – not just me, but you get the picture.
    One day I got a “Jon Nadeau to OB - STAT”. Now I’m not a nurse. I don’t “do” STAT. Maybe an occasional ASAP and once, in the Navy a tute sweet, but never a STAT.

    I headed to OB ready to give them a piece of my mind. I walked through the double doors and here is Chuck, in a white lab coat and grinning ear to ear. He was now Dr. Abromovich, an Obstetrician at my hospital. He kept hearing my name over the loud speaker and wanted to see if it was the same guy.

    It really is a small world.
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