Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jon from the video store

Jon is the guy who runs my neighborhood video store. We've shot the breeze a couple times in the four years I've been going there.

I stopped in last night and asked what the good word was, and he had nothing for me. I was starting a 3-day weekend and would have none of it, so I asked how his wife and kids were and that got him talking. Turns out Jon has a full-time job in addition to owning the video store. Wow. I asked him old he was, explaining that if he was so accomplished at an age similar to mine, he'd make me feel very inadequate.

Jon is 36. But he's really 38. He said it was a long story, but hardly hesitated to tell it.

When Jon was born in Vietnam in 1970, his parents wanted to give him the best chance of never having to fight in the war, so they falsified his birth certificate to show he was born in 1972.

They assumed the war would still be going on 18 years later, and maybe those two extra years would be enough to save him from having to fight in the war like his father did.

We talked about his family and Vietnam for nearly an hour. Here's a real gem he laid down for me: You know how we have parties in college and have too much to drink and generally have a good time with a large group of people? Vietnamese are not allowed to assemble. You can go to church, but it's in the presence of police. If you have a gathering at your home, the cops come to break it up.

This is the least of what we discussed.

I went into the video store to rent Fantasitic 4 because I knew it would be nothing more substantial than a 100-minute amusement. And what I came out with is a completely different understanding about a place I thought I had a pretty good bead on because I read about it and spent a few days there.

How great is that? How lucky am I that Jon is the guy who runs my neighborhood video store?