"Tell me again what this class is?" Dave asked as we stepped inside the Marine Training room.
"It's about life as a Marine," I explained. "It will help us understand what Linda will be going through in the Marines." I told him they'd cover all the details that she (no doubt) paid no attention to: financial stuff, taxes, insurance, etc.
The facilitator began the class by asking participants to introduce themselves.
What started so innocuously, quickly evolved into an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Take the woman from New Jersey who asked for some advice. What should she say to the woman who had carpooled with her and whose son now refuses to see her? The mother was understandably heartbroken.
People began to sniffle. Dave reached for the class handouts.
Then there was the big burly guy from the Bronx who told us he's cried every night since his only daughter left for Boot Camp. His voice quavered as he described the emptiness of his home.
More tears were shed. Dave rifled through the booklets.
Next came the single mother who doesn't know what she's going to do without her son who used to call her several times a day and drove her everywhere she went. She has never felt more alone.
I pulled out a Kleenex. Dave checked email on his phone.
When the woman from Maryland announced that she had a recurrence of breast cancer and was afraid that this would be the last time her Marine son would see her alive, the facilitator left the room and returned with a box of Kleenex.
She handed them out like appetizers at a dinner party.
This was not a class about Marine life. It was a stinkin' support group for depressed family members of new Marines.
Dave elbowed me and said, "I thought they were gonna talk about the 401K."
We broke for lunch before we'd gotten half way through the introductions.
"Wasn't that sad about the woman with breast cancer?" I asked Dave over lunch.
"That woman with breast cancer. You know...she's worried that tomorrow will be the last time her son sees her."
"Really?" he said. "When did that happen?"
"Right after the woman talked about her son who called her all the time."
"When was that?"
"Are you kidding? After that guy from the Bronx started bawling his eyes out!"
Clearly, when the tears began, Dave started tuning out.
The facilitator covered the 401K and taxes after lunch.
That's when I tuned out.
When all was said and done, Dave got all he needed from the class. He learned all about the financial aspects and nuts and bolts of the Marines.
But you want my opinion?
He missed the best part.