George Patton

I’ve always loved learning about WWII, so much so that as a part of my teaching internship, I requested to teach a unit on WWII. Coincidentally, this high school just happened to be showing “The Longest Day” to the history students. The school actually had a theatre. I was impressed.

My fascination with this war probably has something to do with the fact that I was born four years after the war ended, a war in which my father had served.

So I’m finally reading Killing Patton, the story of the infamous General. Don’t ask me what’s taken me so long, but because I’ve waited, I now need the large print version.

Patton served mainly in the European front. He was known to his soldiers as “Old Blood and Guts”. He lived for battle. He never lacked for bravado or optimism when it came to strategy and the thrill of a new mission. 

He believed in reincarnation and sensed he’d fought in many battles throughout the ages. He liked to read the war strategies of long deceased warriors, and believed he had fought in the 19th century.

Strategy-wise, General Eisenhower, who was his superior, thought Patton too impulsive and headstrong to take a major part in the D-Day invasion, but used him as a decoy.

The truth is…Patton tended to obey orders if he agreed with them. If not, he made his own decisions and attacked where he felt it was most advantageous. For this reason, he was called on the carpet many times. However, Patton was such a successful General and victorious in battle, he became an integral part of defeating the Germans and liberating the Allies.

Patton vied with the British General, Montgomery, known as Monty, for choice battle assignments, and due to his rash temperament, often came in second.

Wartime romances were also the norm throughout the story, and Patton was alleged to have had an affair with a socialite Red Cross worker throughout the war. 

What struck me about the battles was the freezing cold temperatures the soldiers had to endure. So many lives were lost, and life was cheap. Killing was the goal. Ethics and morals aside, war trains boys to be assassins. Surprisingly, toward the end of the war, as Patton gazes upon the razed buildings and bodies of the vanquished, he made a comment which mirrored the adage, “War is hell.”

If you’re a hawk, it will probably appeal to your belief in strength through might, and war as a necessary evil. If you’re a dove, you may be astounded by the brutality and loss of life. 

The Buddhists refer to “the middle way”.  Many years ago, I wrote a poem about war. In it, I wished we could “view each person as a brother rather than to kill each other.”

But, that said, we owe so much to Patton and those brave souls who defended our country. To them, we can say we owe” our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor”. 

The Trouble With Robots

Sometimes writing a blog is therapeutic. There’s actually research to prove writing soothes the soul, so here goes. My latest frustration triggers are the robots companies use to avoid complaints…good for them, not so good for the rest of us.

I had a recent encounter with a telephone robot that reminded me I’m still capable of losing my serenity, despite years of dabbling in meditative practices.

The automated robot is one modern convenience I can do without. It’s actually only a convenience for the company that uses the automated woman. I’m sure they come in male versions, but I can’t recall. Maybe these companies feel that a female voice would sound more soothing to the listener, but to me she sounds like a creepy female version of Hal, the robot from the movie 2001.

It’s Halloween season and I could probably deal with creepy, but she’s also a sadistic somebody. She wants to know why I called in, and when I attempt to explain, she says, in a totally non-feeling monotone voice, “I didn’t understand.”

Enough Is Enough

It’s at this point I can feel my blood pressure rising. Before my next call, I’ll be sure to strap on a blood pressure cuff.

It only takes a second or two before I find myself screaming into the phone. I realize I’m screaming at a robot. On an intellectual level, I know how crazy this is. My emotions have been totally hijacked by this idiotic chick. Doesn’t she get what “connect me to a representative means?”

On some level, I think she gets it. This is where her sadistic tendencies blossom. She’s in total control, and she knows it. 

At this point, my only option is to drive to the store. I used my best tones of civility and sanity as I expressed my discontent to the guy at the front door. Then, after taking a number, I smugly listened to the next customer describe how she was screaming into the phone to no avail. Misery loves company, as they say.

Ahh…The Joy of Humans

It’s so satisfying describing your problem to someone with real flesh and blood vocal chords, someone with the ability to actually listen, understand, and get you to a representative.

I have a renewed appreciation for humans. I know it’s not easy working in customer service, but replacing humans with robots is a disservice to humanity. There’s something so soothing about speaking to an actual human being.

But, robots are everywhere. replacing us at every juncture. I think they call it progress. Even surgeries are being hijacked by robots. Mercifully, at least you’re given anesthesia. 

So, I have a message for these companies. Instead of sending me an email survey to ask how you did, you could send me an anti-anxiety prescription with the instructions, “Take 30 minutes before your next call.”