Let’s get it out of the way now. I didn’t join because I had no clue it existed in 2000. I just thought Tom Cruise ran that way because it was more aerodynamic.
It was spring of the year 2000 and people were finally starting to plug their electronics back in, and admit flying cars would be a terrible idea. I was about to finish high school, which was a task as is, and I was looking at the options a poor black kid from South Carolina had. There was the local technical school, but I didn’t know anything about school loans at the time and my mom told me flat out that she didn’t have money for that (which I kinda knew already). There was working with my aunt at the not so local poultry factory. I could get a job there and stand in a row with other people pulling intestines out of chicken until my eventual heart implosion. Then there was the military. The recruiters swarmed around the campus daily just picking up on guys like me that didn’t have any other way out of their situation. I didn’t even think about wars or possibly dying, I just wanted to get a Playstation 2. Yup. The biggest decision of my life was because I really wanted a Playstation.
Most people will tell you, “I did it to serve my country!” or, “I joined to make a difference!”. I joined mainly because I wanted enough money to buy a video game console. Now, there were other reasons. My friends were joining left and right, and I didn’t want to get left behind and regret it for the rest of my life. I did it because it was a government job. I would have benefits that my mom and dad could have only dreamed, and I wanted to be something in the world. I always wanted to matter. Growing up, I saw the people in my neighborhood just living. Not really doing things that they enjoyed, but just getting by. I didn’t want to get by. I wanted someone to see me and know that I meant something. Maybe not there at that moment, but somewhere in the world, I mattered.
I joined the Air Force because I liked the color blue, I like airplanes, and their basic training was only six and a half weeks. That’s it. What do you expect from a teenager? You thought I would sit there with an excel sheet or google the differences? It was 2000! There was only one computer in the entire county and it belonged to the library and my brother was on it all the time trying to download porn.
I got stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, WA. This was the furthest I had even been from my home in my life and I was a tad scared, but I think it made me a better person. I had to depend on myself instead of having a family member to lean on. I didn’t have all the drama that home brought, and I kind of liked it. I got to go to Saudi Arabia and Iraq during my five years in the military. I got medically discharged in 2005 because lupus and the military apparently don’t mix that well. It was tough adjusting to civilian life. I was going through a divorce at around the same time, but I had also discovered comedy in that span so I had a lot on my plate. I tried getting a normal job, but this was before everyone shouted how much they wanted to hire veterans. I went to school, got a degree in Sociology, and started doing comedy full time.
I think the military is responsible for everything, good and bad, that has happened to me in my life. Yet, I regret none of it. If I had this life to live 10 more times, 8 of those times I would join the Air Force. The other two times would be spent joining the circus, and becoming a ninja. It got me out of South Carolina. I got to meet the mother of my daughter. I got to see that I had this talent in me to make people laugh that I would have never pursued in South Carolina. I got a degree and have had great experiences because of signing my name on that line when I was 18 in 2000. I know this story wasn’t the most noble of Veteran’s Day stories, but it is mine, and it is one I would never trade away.