Thursday, October 28, 2010

Corrective Action

In addition to making repairs to his mailbox--the victim of a failure of parental supervision--the Colonel must add clearing the brush away from the sign on his drive that reads "If you can read this, you are in range" to his list of projects for the day.

It is times like these that make the Colonel nostalgic for the years during which he lived in base housing or in neighborhoods off-base where his neighbors were all Marines. There is nothing more effective at correcting juvenile anti-social behavior than a fire-team of neighborly Marines. The Colonel is reminded this morning of an episode from one of his assignments at the home of the Second Marine Division.

In 1987, at the outset of his second tour of duty with the Second Marine Division, the Colonel (then a captain) and his lady, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, purchased a home off-base in one of the newer subdivisions of Jacksonville, North Carolina. It was within walking distance of the elementary school to which our children happily and eagerly skipped each morning, and also just down the street from the high school away from which teenage idiots (apologies for the redundancy) with cars happily and eagerly sped each afternoon. The Marines in the neighborhood listened with growing concern as our wives related to us each evening the increasing occurrence of high-speed travel along our street and the failure of Jacksonville's finest to arrest same. An extended weekend granted by the Division Commanding General gave the Colonel and a couple of his comrades in arms the opportunity to be at home during delinquent drive time.

Under the shade of a tulip poplar, and under the influence of a few adult beverages, the three captains sat in lawn chairs with a bucket of tennis balls at their feet. With arms loosened up by target practice at the expense of the Colonel's worthless Labrador (grist for another post), the three sat with growing expectancy for the high school's last bell signalling, "Delinquents, start your engines".

With an admixture of relief and disappointment the three observed the first few cars to pass doing so at or safely around the posted speed limit. Then came a late model sports car, obviously driven by the son of a civilian member of the community (Marines don't make enough to buy their children sports cars), not only travelling well in excess of the speed limit, but, by the sound of its engine, actually accelerating down the street toward the ambush. Three tennis balls impacted the driver's side window in a tight group that would have made Carlos Hathcock proud.

The car screeched to a stop.

A mop-headed teenager leapt from the car and then froze at the sight of the three captains who now stood, reloaded.

"My dad's a lawyer and he's gonna hear about this!"

"Fine! Make sure you tell him exactly where to find us!"

Half an hour later, another late model sports car idled slowly down the street and pulled up at the curb. A middle-aged man climbed out of the car and walked over to the three tennis-ball snipers.

"My son told me that someone around here hit his car with tennis balls," he eyed the bucket of tennis balls and the adult beverage empties at the captains' feet.
"Was my son speeding?"

"Yessir, he was doing about 45 heading for 55."

"Well, he won't do that again," the man loosened his tie and eyed the bucket of tennis balls, again.

"Mind if I join you?"
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