Haircuts were frequent in the Air Force, and at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, there were two Mexican barbers who saw to our neatness and military bearing. While cutting, they chatted in Spanish. At this point in my military career, I had purchased new silver wire-rimmed glasses from a friendly optician in San Angelo, and had begun to part my hair down the middle, where nature had placed the part some 22 years before.

Picking up on my appearance, the two barbers laughingly traded comments on what a jerk I was, clearly a hippie, ridiculous in appearance, a poor excuse for an Airman. I listened in silence, but when I paid the barber, I smiled and said, “Gracias por todo” — thank you for everything — in my best Spanish, which I had studied for five years before joining the Air Force. I will always treasure the looks on their faces.


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