Life, America, Randomness

Why I Decided to Work In Advertising

with 8 comments

I was 18 years and six months old when I joined the Army for a mandatory 3 years service. I hated running, loathed ships, and was too dumb and clumsy to pass the Air Force screenings. I also had clear goals and knew I wanted to do something meaningful with my service, (i.e. 1. Kill a terrorist, 2. Fuck a female officer, 3. Get thrown into Military Prison).  So I found myself happy being drafter into the Armored Corps and was soon enough sent to Basic Training in the desert on my way to a glorious military career at the 74th Battalion of the 188th Brigade in the 36th Division. Awesome.

Time passes really slowly when you’re a soldier, but jumping forward, less than a year after I was stripped of my civilian stature, I found myself deployed in the city of Jenin as a tank driver for “The Wolfs”, arguably the toughest, craziest, funniest and haze-iest Company in the Corps. One random day while cruising the alleys we were informed over the radio that there’s some sneaky action going on inside the Refugee Camp and we should keep our eyes open for snipers (which is, in this location, like telling someone to ‘watch out for boobs’ in a Strip Club).

In any case, some 4-5 people started shooting at us as soon as we crossed a certain intersection and we were struggling to locate the exact window / rooftop that was hosting the undisclosed gunmen. Right as we figured out where the bullets were originating from, the shooters started running and we were suddenly faced with about 100 kids running vehemently in our direction. Everything happened really fast, and all of a sudden stuff was flying at us from every direction and we realized that we were surrounded. Kids emerged from every adjacent corner and burning hot oil was poured on top of our tank. Baskets of rotten cabbage and tomatoes smashed on the top of my periscope and I couldn’t see a thing. Rocks the size of a Biggest Loser prospect made awful noises parachuting from above and the mob was swiftly closing in on us.

The rotten tomatoes on my periscope started dripping and I was able to regain sight on what’s in front of me. I saw dozens of kids, barefoot, dirty and probably all under the age of 12. They were laughing, smiling and yelling at the same time. They were oblivious and naïve, not aware of how fucked up this situation is, in comparison to a normal childhood.
And there he was, little ugly kid in the corner, probably 11 years old with buds of a young mustache and olive-colored skin, hurling stones with sweet mischief, partaking in these shenanigans enthusiastically.

What struck me most about that little kiddo was his shirt. This Refugee Camp resident that probably didn’t even had a home – not to mention shoes, water, electricity or even a warm meal – was proudly sporting a yellow Nike shirt, with the famous “Swoosh” smudged across his petite chest.  And make no mistake about it, this shirt was new and clean, by no means one of those Buffalo Bills Superbowl Champions t-shirts that were never worn and shipped to 3rd World Countries in exchange for $2 and a bag of apricots. This shirt was legit, and he wore it intentionally, proud as a Castro Street resider.

What happened next is loosely described here in the comments section and besides the laughs we had after blinding ourselves with tear gas, everything ended safely; no child was hurt and we returned to base in one piece. We spent the next day cleaning and rejuvenating our tank in the scorching heat while inside my head I couldn’t let go of that kid in the yellow Nike shirt. I was contemplating how this poverty-stricken youngster who fights for his dinners and chases tanks every day desires a Nike shirt. How the hell did they get to him, too? And if a Copywriter sitting somewhere (in Portland Oregon, I later found) can make a Nike commercial that gets all the way to a Refugee Camp in the West Bank and affects its inhabitants, then maybe one day I’ll be able to do the same, and reach those kids with a different message. Perhaps something about peace, possibly something about love – who knows.

However knowing that Peace and Love will probably never be as cool as a new Nike pair, I resumed my cleaning duties, scrubbing a mammoth stain of oil from the top of my tank’s cannon and started planning my future USA adventures.

I was discharged from the army in 04’ without completing all 3 of my contingents for a meaningful service. It’s almost 2010 now, and I’ve yet to create something really meaningful in Advertising as well. But I’ll never forget that little kid in the yellow Nike t-shirt, and every now and then, I’ll try my hardest to use my power to assure that his future kids will lead a safe life somewhere, laughing at their old man’s stories while drinking a cold beer I was paid to advertise.


Written by Frankelstache

July 13, 2009 at 3:46 pm

8 Responses

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  1. Thank you for your service! I truly mean that, Being in harms way is what our service people are trained to do. Where you in emminate danger, only you know. I find it amazing that you can recall so clearly that day, it speaks to the power of our mind to record things we dont even think about, yet the memories are there if we want them. As far as advertising, its a cut throat business, just keep doing what you do. Write your life experiances / short stories, publish them and use the profits to house the children in that country, or by them books to read… Make your mark and they will come to you to advertise your logo!
    You can make that differance. Semper Fi


    July 13, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    • Thanks, otto.
      Are you related to Otto Mann from The Simpsons?
      Just kidding.

      I like your suggestions, hopefully one day something good will in fact come out of this.

      Thanks for visiting, come again.


      July 14, 2009 at 10:42 am

  2. Wow Frank, I truly want to thank you for telling us that moving story. Did you have a chance to get with that female officer? Inquiring minds want to know.

    You know I lived in Portland for a while, & it’s not all that evil. Most of it is, I won’t lie to you, but not all of it. There’s a lot of conflict within that city. A lot of people who live there don’t want to accept that it’s a big city, while others are more than willing to sell their peers out to make a buck. In the end I followed my heart (in more sense than one) & took a job in a different state. It was the best decision that I’ve ever made, but sometimes I still miss it.

    You’re a brave person for going through the things you did in that story. I sat in my cubical for a while thinking about how I would have handled the situation, but I couldn’t wrap my head around it. So instead I thought of the more general idea of a military career & came up with this three step plan:

    Step one: Mandatory enlistment in military at 18.
    Step two: Curl up in a ball & cry for three years.
    Step three: Discharged from military.


    July 14, 2009 at 6:40 am

    • I say again, Death, thank YOU for the inspiration.

      I’ve personally never been to Portland, but it does host the best (arguably) Ad agency in the world (W-K), so I would love to live / work there. I would also love to live in a trailer park for a month or so, mingle with the natives etc. I’ll have to convince The Woman I Love that’s it’s safe and that we won’t do Meth but I really want to, in all seriousness.

      Your three step plan sounds promising…:-)
      Give yourself some credit. It’s a lot easier when your 18 and your Macro perception of the world is at that stage, too. Though I know a few that spent their 3 years crying, no worries.

      Thanks for your guest appearance,


      July 14, 2009 at 10:49 am

  3. If advertising doesn’t work out, I think you should write a book. That story was fantastic.

    I had a similar experience in Nicaragua, but I wasn’t in the army and this kid was wearing Tommy Hilfiger. Regardless, our future goals are the same.

    And yeah, DIF is right…my inquiring mind wants to know if you hit it with the FO too.


    July 14, 2009 at 9:06 am

    • My dearest lovely gorgeous Piña-colada sandwich B,

      Thank you for your kind words, it means a lot coming from you! And it fills me with admiration, anticipation and warm fuzzy feelings knowing that we share the same future goals.

      As for the female officer…well. Like I wrote, I was discharged without completing (all of) my 3 main goals, and sad to say I missed on the FO. That being said, I managed to ascend that mountain a year or so afterward, though it only made me feel a tad better.

      Always a pleasure,


      July 14, 2009 at 10:55 am

  4. my first time here and i completely enjoyed your post today. it was the perfect length and i might add, you have quite a way with words.
    “like telling someone to ‘watch out for boobs’ in a Strip Club” (very good and funny too)

    that little boy in the nike shirt has inspired you to do something worthwhile- when the right time comes i’m sure you will use your memory of him to do something simply wonderful. again, this was a sad yet beautiful post… oh and btw, sleeping with a female officer is so overrated anyway. until next time…Lynn


    July 14, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    • Hi Lynn,
      Glad you decided to stop by.

      Thanks for your kind words, and yeah, only in retrospect I learned that the female officer, like most fantasies, is much better as a dream.

      Feel free to revisit, and I’ll be waiting patiently for the next sexy monday, Redhead edition.


      July 14, 2009 at 3:43 pm

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