Monday, February 27, 2012

Wet Socks and Supporting the Troops

There are many problems in this world--starving children, nuclear proliferation, AIDS, and no less among them, are wet socks.  Yes, wet socks.

It's not a new problem.  In 1812, members of Napoleon's army suffered from trench foot.  This is caused by the feet being exposed to cold and damp conditions.  During WWI, soldiers would sit in trenches for months on end.  With the rain came the dreaded wet socks.  The problem became so bad that some got the dreaded disease, which went well beyond stinky feet.  Some feet even required amputation as gangrene set in.  The problem was ameliorated to some degree by changing one's socks and boots each day.  Airing out the feet and keeping them warm and dry was important.  Soldiers were required to ensure that each of their comrades changed their socks and dried their feet once per day.

As you can tell, wet socks are no laughing matter.  As a kid, I was always sensitive to the problem.  No matter how cold it is during the winter, no socks can be found on my feet at bedtime.  My feet are airing, thank you very much.  I could have four blankets covering my ankles up to my chin, but my feet would remain out there, proudly standing guard against the boogeyman hiding under my bed.

Even as an adult, I hate having wet socks.  After showering, I won't dare put my socks on until my feet have been both towel and air dried.  It takes time, but the investment is worth it.  No sense in locking in the moisture.  After a long day at work, taking off my shoes and socks is priority number 1.  Those poor guys always get a little moist from the daily toil.

Dry a double load of socks for me, because I change my socks twice a day.  Aside from the occasional water puddle, there are other risks, however.  My wife has a bad habit of washing her hands in the kitchen sink and not shaking them off.  Then she goes for a towel across the room and the water drips onto the floor, where it lies in wait, ready to attack my dry socks the next time I innocently pass through.  It drives me crazy, but she's a good wife otherwise and I love her, so I don't make too much of it.  I know I probably do things that bother her, too.  For example, when we go to church, if there is a sick person standing near me, I know they are going to try and shake my hand.  It is required during a certain segment of the mass.  Right before that part comes up, I excuse myself to the bathroom.  I really can't afford to get sick.  Shaking hands during the cold and flu season makes no sense to me.  But this is the same place where they share a chalice with wine in it that dozens of people drink from and they consider it sufficient to wipe the rim.  Never mind the backwash.  These are issues that also bother me, but alas, I will leave them for another blog post.

If I were in WWI, I wouldn't have enjoyed being shot at, sleeping in trenches outside, and being away from my family.  But the wet socks would have been unbearable.  That is one thing I certainly would not have been able to stand.  We can send a man to the moon, build electric cars, and cell phones access the Internet.  I pray that we can invent boots which keep the water out and our soldiers' feet dry.

To me, that is the best way to support the troops.

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