Heed not Steve

Two Long Minutes in a Van in Glyfada

You know, I don’t write much about the specifics of my military service.  There’s no reason why not, really.  I just don’t.  I just haven’t.

Lately, though, this one memory has been on my mind.   I’ve told this story any number of times, so, for those of you who’ve heard it, I offer my apologies.

This is one of my most vivid memories of Greece.

During the first Gulf War, I was stationed at Hellenikon Air Base, near Athens Greece.  The base was in the midst of closing when Iraq invaded Kuwait, so by Desert Storm, we were down to the barest minimum of personnel with rotating crews coming in from other parts of Europe.

The threat of terrorism was high.  Americans were jumpy.  Greeks were jumpy.

To accommodate the temporary crews, everyone still living in the barracks was moved to a contract hotel, the Apollon Hotel.  Two coworkers helped me move my stuff.  I packed it all in cardboard boxes and we loaded it into the squadron’s white Volvo passenger van and headed for the hotel.

I remember it was dark.  We were about halfway to the hotel when we saw a roadblock – a police car with a uniformed Greek, and a Greek in plainclothes.  The man in plainclothes blocked our lane and gestured with his hand out, palm slightly down, for us to stop.

We weren’t supposed to stop or pull over for anyone and the SSgt. who was driving the van mentioned that, but the man in plainclothes stood in our path.  After some brief debate, the SSgt. slowed to a stop in front of the police car.  He left the motor running.  He left the van in drive.

We were three tense Americans, for sure.

From the front passenger seat, I watched the uniformed police officer through the windshield.  He stood directly in front of me.  Was he really police?  I couldn’t tell.  He was skinny and wore an ill fitting, short sleeve uniform.  His shirt was half untucked.  I couldn’t make out his badge and didn’t know what it should look like anyhow.  His hair was unruly and disheveled.  He seemed like a guy playing dress up.

But, he carried an automatic machine gun pistol.

For at least 30 seconds, I kept my eyes on him and his pistol.  He held it, barrel down, near his hip.  I told myself if he raises that pistol, it was maybe a mac 10, if he raises it, I’m gonna hit the floor boards and push the accelerator with my hand.

While I watched him, the plainclothes officer came over to the driver’s window.  I heard the SSgt. say something about how we’re Americans and we’re going to the Apollon Hotel.

We’d been told to never, ever, give our ID cards over to anyone not American.

The first thing the plainclothes officer asked for was our ID’s.

“We can’t do that,” said the SSgt.

The plainclothes officer pondered that a moment and asked again about our ID’s.

“We can’t give you our ID’s,” said the SSgt.  “If you want to go with us to the Apollon we can speak to the police there.”

The plainclothes looked us over.  He looked at the boxes.  He asked, “You are American?”


“So, you have ID?”


The plainclothes officer made a gesture like, “So, what is the difficulty here?”

The SSgt. said, “We have ID’s, but we can’t give them to you.”

By this time it was fairly clear they were actual police but it was also clear they were nervous and getting more nervous.

I considered how we appeared to them, in our white Volvo full of large, unmarked cardboard boxes.  None of us fit the corn fed, G.I. stereotype.  We weren’t in uniform.  We didn’t look like TV Americans.

The uniformed officer rocked side to side.  He looked to the plainclothes for guidance.  The plainclothes officer stayed courteous, but grew more serious.  I remember thinking “Oh man.  Now we’re gonna get shot because they think we’re the terrorists!”

The SSgt. conferred with us quickly and then said, “Look, we can’t give you our ID’s but we can show them to you.”

The plainclothes officer agreed and we eagerly pulled our ID’s and held them up for him to read.  He looked them all over and then gave us that particular greek assent, half shrug, half nod.

And we went our way.

Two long minutes, in a van, in Glyfada.


an icy breeze
whistling through t- t- t- t- t-  whistle ||| whistling ** wh*wh* wh*  icy breeze  an icy an i-i-i- wh********|||\\\\

*_*-*-*_ {————–}}||||||||||||||||zzzzzzzZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZzZzzzzzzzzzzzz . . . .. .. . .


Hello?  Hello?

Can you hear me?

Ah, yes!  I did it!  I’ve traveled through time!  It’s me, future Steve!  Steve from the future!


That’s right.  I’m from the future.  I live there.  In the future, time travel is as common as . . . well, it’s as common as not time traveling is in the past.

So.  Anyhow.

Sorry to interrupt that cute little haiku or whatever it was.

Umm.  I don’t know where past Steve is, or, as you know him, Now Steve.  He’s probably in the future.  That seems to be how it works.  He’ll be back when I go home – to the future.  I’m from the future.

Did I mention I’m from the future?

I know.  I know.  You have all sorts of questions about the future.  Well why wouldn’t you?  Of course, I don’t have questions about the future.  I live in the future!

Anyhow, let’s see.  Umm, well, I don’t pay much attention to politics so . . . you know, it’s about the same.  Probably.  Whatever.  There’s some President; I guess. I don’t know.  They do things – they sign things.  It’s quaint.  There’s lots of mobs and unrest.

It’s a utopia of unrest.

Oh!  Oh!  TV is now 4D.  YES.  How about that?  4D?  It’s awesome.  I particularly like the Love Boat reboot – Robot Love Boat.

Clanky the bartender is my favorite.

I also like the reality series, Time Chase Your Own Tail.  It’s – well, it takes too long to explain.  Suffice it to say, you won’t see any better knife fighting, anywhere, ever, any time.  It’s educational, too.

And, also, brace yourself . . . Soylent Green is PEOPLE!

HahaHA!   Not really!  I’m kidding!  I’m a joker.  I’m a joker from the future!  We don’t call it Soylent Green.  Had you going, huh?

Okay, well.  I’ve got to go.  The past is . . . boring.  I’m bored.  I need to be entertained.  There’s no entertainment here.  So.  Let’s see.  I read this entry before I left the future.  Now, I’ve got to try and reproduce it exactly or my time narrative will be destroyed.  Can’t have that.

If I remember, this post was exactly four hundred and thirteen words long.

And it ended, something like . . . . wait for it . . . something like . . .  .THIS.


.. .. .. …. .  .   ..   .

\\||an icy||-*_*–*

. .

an icy breeze
whistling through bare limbs
the future


© Steve Mitchell 2011