Before I get to the point of this post, you must first know a couple of things about me:
Fact 1: I am a people pleaser. It's very, very hard for me to say no. I'm very non-confrontational. If there's something you want me to do that I don't want to do, my first line of refusal is to ignore it. If that doesn't work, I'll make some non-committal noise and change the subject. It's only been recently, now that I'm an adult with three kids, that I can tell people no. Do I feel guilty about it? Absolutely! But I've learned the hard way not to overstretch myself.
Fact 2: I was a Navy Brat. My dad retired from the Navy when I was 18 or 19. I spend my life living on Navy Bases until I was 16 and my parents bought a house here in New Orleans. I spent my childhood around military men and women, both in and out of uniform, all day, every day. Because we were allowed to roam the Navy Base(s) as kids, we were pretty much surrounded by military people. My dad was military, my friend's dads were military.
Fact 3: I graduated from High School in 1988. The Iraq war was ending; popular movies were Dangerous Liasons, A Fish Called Wanda, and Die Hard; popular music was George Michael, Robert Palmer, Erasure, U2, Guns N' Roses; and of course, being 18, I was very self-centered and sure about the world and my place in it. I knew what I was going to do with my life and how it would turn out. (My after-school job was as a cashier at a local grocery store - we had to wear these awful brown polyester pants and an orange smock. I hated that uniform!)
You know how, in your senior year, the Army/Navy recruiters contact you trying to get you to enlist? Well, they went from sending mail to calling my house. And as I mentioned above, I'm not good at saying no. But I knew without a doubt that I didn't want to join the military. I'd spent my life seeing/doing things the Navy way. I understood how the system works - it's not bad, it just wasn't for me. I wanted to be My Own Person. I wanted to go to college. I must have given the recruiter some non-committal answers, because they kept calling. No matter what vague excuse I gave, they had a solution/reply. Finally, one night they called, and I was on my way out the door for a hot date with my then-boyfriend (now my husband!) and the recruiter called AGAIN. I'd had it. I don't remember why, but I was really annoyed at this guy.
Finally, I (Ms. Non-confrontational) told the guy "I'm not going to join the military." And he asked why not. My reply? "I don't want a job that I have to wear polyester every day."
There was a moment of silence, then, "Wow. I've never been given that reason before and there's nothing I can do about that. You have to wear the uniform. Okay, thanks."
And that was it. They never called again.