How I Almost Lost the War in Home Depot

Updated: August 20, 2013


By Kerry Patton

War. It’s an interesting thing. We fight it abroad. We fight it alongside our brothers. We fight it against a very unique enemy. But sometimes that enemy isn’t some terrorist aligned with some Islamic group.

Yup, sometimes the enemy can be found in Home Depot.

I returned home from Afghanistan and within 36 hours of my arrival, my wife along with my in-laws decided it would be a good idea to head off to Home Depot as a “family.”

Admittedly, I was not the best of family members upon my arrival back in the States. I missed the guys terribly. I missed the job. And I was extremely bitter about the war in general for numerous reasons.

But to be fair, I was gone for eight months.

I left my wife with an old 1890 farm house in complete need of an entire makeover. I purchased it as our future dream home but left it up to her and my incredibly handy in-laws to start rebuilding. Let me be very clear, I couldn’t have been happier with the work they put into this house.

Needless to say, when they said they wanted to go to Home Depot, I was not hesitant. I knew it was the right thing to do even though deep down, I didn’t want to leave the house. We needed a door and considering I did very little in rebuilding this house, I realized it was my job to step up and start doing my share of the work in making it a livable abode.

Home Depot is a cool place. I mean, name the tool and they pretty much have it. But what I love about Home Depot is the mega sized shopping carts. In fact, I love those silly carts that are low to the ground and have three rails so you could fill that sucker up with some plywood, or in my case a solid door.

I grabbed my cart and started pushing it as fast as I could and jumped on it like some little kid ridding an oversized scooter. After banging into an isle filled with who knows what, I looked at my wife who looked at her own mother. Wife and mom both shook their heads likely wondering who this ass-clown was that was with them. I took the hint and calmed down.

After going to where the doors were, I parked my new toy in the center of the isle. My father-in-law and I started checking out doors and yes, I took my eyes off my cart. My wife and her mother didn’t drift too far. In fact, I believe they were only a few isles down from us.

And then it happened.

Some behemoth missing a few teeth decided he wanted MY cart!

2011 08 06 home depot cart1My father-in-law was first to see the man run off with it. After I realized why my father-in-law’s eyes almost popped out of his head, I knew something happened to my most prized Home Depot possession.

Not on my watch! It was time for this never before Ranger to “Ranger Up!”

“Sir…Sir!” I shouted.

Was this fool ignoring me? Oh, hell no!

I rushed out of the isle and through the main floor quickly approaching the area where the cash registers were located…You know, the one area in the entire store where everyone and their mother is gathered. Yeah, that place where if I did anything stupid, the world would see it.

Knowing the man wasn’t stopping, I quickly rushed over to him and as discrete as possible, placed my arm around his shoulder ensuring my hand was close to the side of his neck.

“Sir, I don’t know if you couldn’t hear me, but I was trying to get your attention.” I said with a calm voice. “Seems like you mistakenly took our cart.”

Would you believe he had the nerve to actually attempt to speak to me at this point? Of course you would. But at this point, in my possessed mind, I couldn’t. But he did.

“I heard you.” He said and smiled. “I don’t care if this cart was yours.”

Like a fat woman having her cookies stolen, I barked! “Oh no you didn’t!”

From this point, I don’t believe my brethren from Ranger Up would allow me to go on any further in articulating the things I said to this jack-wagon.

But this is when I almost lost the war. You see, I won the battle. I got my cart back. And thanks to my darling of a wife, I got it before I even needed to rip out this bastard’s larynx. Yup. I remember her screaming at me not to kill the guy and her screaming at everyone in the store explaining how “Little Johnny (or Kerry) just came home from war.”

Damn woman! Now everyone will think I have PTSD or something crazy like that.

Anyway, I applaud her abilities to de-escalate the situation. I never saw her look at me the way she did that day. I saw fear in her eyes. Fear that I instilled in her. It’s something I never hope she sees again due to my actions.

But then it got worse.

Remember, I said this was a “family affair.” Yup, I turned and saw my mother-in-law’s eyes. Let’s just say that it took me a good two full weeks to regroup and reorganize before I could look at her again.

I love my in-laws. They are tough, firm, and well, at least my mother-in-law is set in her ways. That’s not a bad thing for a guy like me. I respect her tremendously and love her as if she was my own mother. But that day, that day was one where I learned I could be my own worst enemy and lose a war from within.

No excuse. A valuable lesson was learned that day. No matter your predicament, no matter how awkward it may be coming home from war, there is no excuse to act like a jackass. No doubt, I was a jackass that day.




  1. JoeC

    August 20, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Without knowing exactly what you said or how you said it, I find it very hard to believe you were the jackass that day. The jackass was the toothless marshmallow man. He was the wolf that was trying to pick on a sheep but got the sheepdog instead. Good on you for not taking the modern American way out and cowering in fear while some douche takes advantage.

    • Abulldog

      August 20, 2013 at 10:42 am

      JoeC is right. the toothless cull was the jackass. Too many people today try to pull crap expecting others to just let it go. They hear some song in their head that goes something like me me me they owe me everything….the truth is back a ways someone would have knocked him on his ass. But not getting knocked on their ass is why there are more and more bold brazen jerks out there. Sad times. You my friend did nothing wrong.

    • Mike C

      August 27, 2013 at 10:58 am

      JoeC, I came to post this. I have done this same type thing many a time. I refuse to be a victim of anyone or allow anyone to victimize those around or with me. Just because this makes the sheeple nervous doesnt mean its wrong.

      Good on you Kerry! Welcome home.

      Semper Fi!


      August 27, 2013 at 11:57 pm


  2. Andrew

    August 20, 2013 at 10:41 am

    I don’t see how you lost the war on this one man. They’ll get used to it. Keep being a man and don’t let jerks walk all over you. Good job!

  3. Chris H.

    August 20, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I get what you’re saying, and it’s good that the situation didn’t end up with dillhole going to the hospital (not good for him, but good for you). However, I’m glad you stood up with yourself. I’m with Joe, I’m tired of seeing douchebags or punks get away with crap. I always say something, but that’s how I was raised. However, violence should always be a last resort, especially with those who have little exposure to it (my wife has also reacted in fear in similar circumstances – in fact she won’t tell me now when someone’s done something douchey to her until well after the fact.) So I guess don’t beat up yourself too much, learn & adapt & move on.

  4. ariemay

    August 20, 2013 at 10:51 am

    The beauty of wives, mothers and even mothers-in-law is our capacity for love, forgiveness and understanding. And frankly, we’ve done that or worse at a Macy’s sale.

  5. leftoftheboom

    August 20, 2013 at 11:03 am

    I know this is about the image of a man before his family and not the stupid cart or the asshat that took it. With respect to the family, the explanation that someone just got back from the war, as aggravation to “let’s go to Home Depot” should be addressed. Proper reintegration is a joint responsibility but also falls on the side of what helps the Vet re-adjust. This family needs to be educated. Secondly, spouses, wonderful creatures, should be warned that “he is back from the war” should only be mentioned when said Warrior is about to shoot it out with a room full of cops, NOT in public where a minor ass beating might occur. Thirdly, if the family in any way viewed the Warrior with fear or concern then they might need some counseling for their “fear” of their own. Why would they be predisposed to think that a violent outbreak would occur?

    Families need to understand that jumping right into public activities is not necessarily a good thing. I still get the crawls like someone is scoping me out and I have to sit with my back to something or I cannot relax. This is of course not all inclusive because some Warriors do need to jump back into such socialization. But that needs to be a joint discussion not a “pick up of responsibilities” as if you were never gone. That does disservice to the Warrior and causes conflict as they try and get the muscle memory to realize that they are not in the zone. I spent days reaching for a weapon that was no longer attached to me.

    The other part that I would like to address is the lack of manner in society today. In person or on the net people feel free to be as disrespectful, crude, and malicious as they chose to be without fear of the consequences because frankly there are none. At one point a man’s word and a handshake sealed the deal and people interacted with respect because failure to do so would result in a life altering or ending conflict. I think we need to start re-instilling a fear of consequence into people.

    In order for life to be treated as precious we need to re-establish the value of honor and integrity and the absolute consequences of lack of respect for one another.

    • Emma

      August 20, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      How do you do what you say in your last paragraph? That’s a deep and wide question I realize. How do you pick your battles? How do you defeat the bully? When do you turn the other cheek, or walk away, or be the ‘bigger person’, and when do you stand your ground and/or fight back? I agree that there needs to be a great change in society. What is the best way to start?

      • leftoftheboom

        August 20, 2013 at 1:09 pm

        Simple answer, you fight every battle, never turn the other cheek and you take the life of everyone who has proven that they cannot or will not respect others.

        We must stop the idea that an excuse can be found for anything and re-establish that actions have consequences.

        Show people that the price of a lie could be their life, they will start telling the truth and all life becomes more important.

        • leftoftheboom

          August 20, 2013 at 1:25 pm

          To illustrate my point, apparently three individuals in Oklahoma decided to kill a man for jogging because they were bored.

          The first excuse used is their age. No information is being released because they are minors. This is the first step to taking away their responsibility for their actions. Several parents have reportedly said their Kid was not a bad person.

          Now we watch the slow wheels of just turn and of course the death penalty is off the table because they are minors. WHY they killed a man in cold blood for no better reason than they felt like it and now we are going to do what? Lock them up for a little while? Let one get away so long as he tells on the others?

          What should happen is that after guilt is ascertained, all three of them should be taken to the exact spot where their victim fell, every relative they have should be present and every camera turned on to broadcast live, and they should be executed on the spot. Forget their age, forget the excuses, remember the victim and remove a cancer from society and all the while send a message to everyone else on exactly what you will face if you commit such acts.

          • JoeC

            August 20, 2013 at 1:44 pm

            I have to agree with you on the majority of this. Once it has been established that a “person” is useless to society there is no reason to keep them around. We can put a round in their head for 50 cents and walk away or we can send them to prison for the rest of their lives and spend several million dollars giving them a better life than they likely had. There is no blame for the parents, society, celebrities or anyone else. There comes a time to be responsible for your actions and those three are beyond it. If you are willing to kill someone just because you are bored there is no hope for you.

            The one area I disagree with is broadcasting it on TV. Half of these dipshits do what they do just so they can have their moment in the sun. Giving them what they want as a reward for being a douche is not the answer. You take them to a private “ceremony” at a landfill, execute them, and bury them with the rest of the trash and never mention a thing about it on the news. Or maybe you could have a short blurb about the worthless POS that was executed for his crimes and buried in a landfill, but don’t name names and don’t glorify the event the way they do now.

            Another problem is how we view death. I don’t remember the last time I was told that someone died or was killed. It’s always “passed away”. Bullshit. We can’t even say the words any more. We also need to stop making death seem like something that isn’t final, because it is.

          • leftoftheboom

            August 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm


            You have a point that the media attention could backfire. But think about it from this point of view, in the world today, the Boston Bomber is memorialized on the cover of Rolling Stones. That type of publicity is a travesty.

            But picture the situation when these three are placed where their victim fell, with all their relatives around them to watch. I don’t think they are going to be like the smiling selfie the bomber took. No they are going to be snot streaming crying babies about to face the ultimate consequence. That message sent to everyone else might just save several other people.

            And I am willing to bet that if you put the bomber on his knees at the location of his bomb and read him his final sentence before he was about to meet God, he would not be so smiling either.
            But it could go either way.

          • Damien

            August 21, 2013 at 1:14 am

            Right on! It may not stop all crime however it will deter many!

          • Mike C

            August 27, 2013 at 11:07 am

            Amen Brother!

            Your newsletter, I would like to subscribe to it.

            Semper Fi!

  6. Raul HDZ

    August 20, 2013 at 11:07 am

    I know what you mean and I went through it too except my girl was so scared she left me and now I distract myself with nothing but work. You did nothing wrong and it was awesome your family saw that and saw you come back from it w/o having a meltdown or breakdown. semper fi.

  7. Rok Sarge Kam

    August 20, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Son, you need a little professional help with that rage issue. Don’t go and put your loved ones in harm’s way.

    • leftoftheboom

      August 20, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      Rage issue just becuase he wanted the cart and some dirt bag took it? Well if I was in his shoes I guess I would have a rage issue too.

      So tell me Dad, when to I get to enforce my self-respect?

    • Mike C

      August 27, 2013 at 11:14 am

      First, you can stow the “son” BS. You disrespecting a warrior back from the war makes you look like the biggest douche nozzel in existence.
      Second, your view of the world where we should all be victims is exactly what is wrong with the world. Good job, “son”.

  8. John Almon

    August 20, 2013 at 11:22 am

    You did the right thing regardless of your familys’ reaction. The problem extends way beyond the incident in Home Depot. There are people who will constantly and persistently push the boundaries of decorum and respect. Unfortunately, the threat of bad manners extend way beyond interpersonal conflicts. People that have that poor attitude can also affect us at our jobs once we start working in the civilian workforce. Respect of one human to another has fallen to the wayside and that needs to be corrected and locked on!!

  9. Charlie N

    August 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Although I am no longer as young as you are, those thoughts still come to miy mind when confronted by butt wipes. It has been decades since I last was in combat, but still evaluate threats. Still sit with my back to a wall, in sight of the door, and note the exits. I still evaluate the possible threat of those I watch passing by. It becomes part of our life. With age I have become better at not showing anger, but remain ready. Younger brother, it is not a thing to be ashamed of, but rather a way of life. As the old guard dog will still stand at the door and get the grumble in his throat, we have ingrained skills. Like riding a bike, the situations bring back the reactions.

  10. Lisa VanHorn

    August 20, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Don’t feel down on yourself by the way you reacted that day. It happens, and hate to say it, it will happen again. The difference is, sit and talk it out with your family, they will understand (as much as they can). As far as everyone else…sometime this is what it takes to get it through to these jackasses that you respect everyone. You just never know who you’re stealing a cart from.

    Thank you for your service

  11. Just another Dirt Bag

    August 20, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    My poor wife has had to do that for me a few times, then she accuses me of having “crazy eyes.” Yes, I too have to agree with Joe on this. The risk-averese yuppy culture actually judges the good man who stands his ground more harshly than the bully accustomed to taking what he wants. For some reason, you are a magnet for these types when you’re recently redeployed.

    • JAFO

      August 21, 2013 at 4:25 am

      It’s easier for most parties involved in an incident to judge the Sheepdog as crazy than to condemn the Wolf. The Sheep knows the Wolf is a wolf, it’s always been. But recognizing the righteousness of the Sheepdog requires the Sheep to recognize his own weakness. Even Sheep are slaves to their own ego.

  12. JoeC

    August 20, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    LotB, I agree completely with that method. I would just skip the TV coverage because no good can come from it. I might offer the family of the deceased dibs on pulling the trigger. Or maybe auction the right to do so on ebay. Anything to add insult to punishment. And they should have to die in the same manner as their victims. If you shoot someone, you get shot. If you stab someone 20 times, you get stabbed 20 times.

  13. Josh

    August 20, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Thank you Kerry Patton for sharing this story. The part about ‘Yup, I turned and saw my mother-in-law’s eyes.’ Jogged a few memories in my mind when I got told for doing what I thought would be neeto. Like “I’ve never seen you act this way before.” and “You are a real axel.”

    Anyway, Home depot should get changing rooms with mirrors like clothing stores have, so one can see what one looks like with various axes, saws, hammers, and power tools.

  14. J.B.

    August 20, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Kick his ass, seabass!

  15. CavScout

    August 20, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    I loved reading this. Made me feel a little more normal. I pulled a knife on a salesman at Best Buy the weekend I got back from Iraq. He made a joke about running off with my wife. She calmed me down and explained to the guy that I just got back from Iraq.

  16. Sergeant Van

    August 20, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    I had an incident after my last deployment. I had been home less than 24 hours, and my entire family took me downtown to the Hard Rock Cafe. I ordered a beer and was carded (I was surprised since I was 32 at the time and figured the grey hair would be proof enough). I handed the waitress my military ID and was quickly told that they don’t accept a military ID as a valid form of identification. My post-war-rage didn’t start to flare up until I was informed that the military ID wasn’t accepted because there’s no date of birth on the card. When I politely informed the waitress and the manager (he was walking by when this whole “discussion” began) that the date of birth was right there on the back of the card, they still refused to accept it as a valid form of ID, and asked if I had a driver’s license instead.

    I wish I had a recording of the explosive rant I belted out, because it was rather brilliant and I don’t think I cussed a single time. I went off on how an identification card issued by the federal government and recognized by the Geneva and Hague Conventions (and the international community at large) that grants me access to secure facilities – many of which contain high explosives and enough weapon systems to level a small country – plays second-fiddle to a card that grants me permission to putt an automobile around the 12,704 square miles of the State of Maryland (I did a lot of useless reading while deployed) was quite possibly the stupidest and most insulting thing I have ever heard. My family was mortified at my behavior and gave the same excuse your wife did: I had just returned from war.

    To be honest, I think I was more insulted by my family’s excuse than I was by the Hard Rock Cafe’s ridiculous policy, because I’m quite confident that I would have had the same issue whether or not I had just returned from a deployment. I might not have been quite so, um, “boisterous” about it, but I certainly would have spoken my mind on the subject and definitely would have left the restaurant in search of a more sane establishment in which to torture my brain cells like I did on that occasion.

    I guess it boils down to the fact that while we’re in a war zone, we put aside a lot of the daily bullshit we have to deal with while we’re in garrison. We ignore worrying about peoples’ sensibilities, we stop caring about whether their feelings get hurt or not, and we just knock everything down to brass tacks. Nobody has time for “directive, nondirective, and combined approaches to counseling” when the bullets are flying and soda cans are exploding. We strip away all of the PC garbage and say exactly what we mean, demand exactly what we need, and communicate on a level that is far more effective than any motivational speaker ever thought was possible.

    And it is the experience of communicating on a basic, uncomplicated level that causes us to lose our damn minds when we encounter The Stupid that is the norm in society. We have to reintegrate those subtle levels of horseshit back into vernacular, and it leaves us frustrated beyond the point of comprehension. And its even more frustrating (and insulting, though the insult is never intentional) when people try to write our frustration with The Stupid off as battle fatigue, because it means that The Stupid is something we have to allow for instead of breaking through the bullshit and telling that fat muther-fucker to let go of our goddamned cart!

    • JoeC

      August 21, 2013 at 9:25 am

      I have never understood why a military ID is not good enough for some places. It shouldn’t even need to have a DOB on it. If you are old enough to get your ass shot off in some far away land because some politician said so you are old enough to have a drink.

      • RyanH

        August 21, 2013 at 10:47 am

        I 100% agree I think its total BS that you can be old enough to go fight for your country and get shot but you still can’t drink until your 21

  17. Roger

    August 20, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    on learning a war protest had been staged in my Mothers yard by some my high school alumni , the ones that finished school and didn’t enlist at 17 like me,,I searched them out,, 14 assault charges in 18 days,, so as a fellow Ranger, let me say,, you are fine young man,, carry on,,,

  18. Derrick J - Marriage & Family Therapist

    August 20, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Returning home from war or not, I would have gone after the guy simply on principle of him 1) not heeding your efforts to get his attention, and 2) him not caring about anyone else in his frantic effort to deal with his own needs.

    Boundaries are to be enforced and rude people should be confronted – sometimes with honey, other times with a firmness their “daddy” ought to have imparted upon them.

    In any case, being an Officer in the Army… I don’t know that I’d have done a whole lot different than you did, except maybe downscaled my response and simply taken the cart back from the guy. People who act like trolls need to be confronted – how we do it is as important as simply enforcing those boundaries that people in a civil society should observe.

  19. Reaper63

    August 20, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    I totally get what the author was saying. My “almost lost the war” moment came after I returned from Iraq in 2005. A couple months after I returned, I found myself sitting in the car with my wife as we were parked outside her parents apartment. She told me she was getting out, and I was going home alone. Then she told me why. We all carry a little bit of darkness with us. But you can get lost in it, especially after you’ve returned to “normal life” after a prolonged period of high stress.
    The worst thing for me coming home was the feeling of no longer being needed to really do anything. I left people I knew, trained with, drank with, fought with, and shared the myriad minutia of the military existence with. A few days after I returned, a buddy who relieved us sent me an email that the bad guys put a hole in my truck! I drove that truck hither and yon around Anbar, and he was there for a week and put a hole in it! The knowledge of the danger I left behind gnawed on my soul.
    It also darkened the relationship with my wife. To the point of separation.
    Fortunately, that night and the conversation that went with it was enough to arrest the slide off the cliff. I was able to put aside the feelings and fears I brought home with me. Not all at once, and not without struggle, but I made it. I saved my marriage, and the rest of the life we were building together.
    Everyone’s experience is different. But please take reintegration seriously. Don’t win all the battles, only to lose the war.

    As an aside, yes many people around us need a first class ass beating! But it’s usually not a good idea to give them the busted chops they so richly deserve. If you have kids, raise them right, so they don’t turn out toothless, brainless, and beat down in a Home Depot somewhere.

  20. dallas

    August 21, 2013 at 7:50 am

    …Like a fat woman having her cookies stolen? … that’s pretty disrespectful right there .. you may have missed the spot where you were being a jerk

    • Whitey

      August 21, 2013 at 11:05 am

      Were you born without a sense of humor? Would you be so butthurt if he had said something like “excited as a white guy surrounded by Asian girls,” or “happy as a redneck in a gun shop?” I doubt it. Lighten up.

  21. Tena

    August 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    You were not a jackass. If you were ready to walk away with your cart after your comment, then you were fine. It was your wife who escalated the incident with her misguided attempt to calm the situation. The situation was already handled and done when she spoke up. You, sir, were fine.

  22. Gail

    August 26, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    I applaud your decision to not let that self centered jerk get away with taking the cart away. I have a issue at our Home Depot. People think the horizontal blue lines next to a handicap space is for their shopping carts. My husband needs that area for his ramp. He is fortunate in that his wheelchair is motorized and we can park further away when the spaces aren’t accessible. I feel for the guys who need to pull their chairs out of the back seat or truck bed and manually wheel all the way to the store.

  23. dw

    August 27, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Home Depot has employees roaming the aisles for abandoned carts. I have had my cart disappear when I lost sight of it for only a minute and when I asked an employee if he saw my cart he told me it was probably one of his colleagues. Apparently a lot of customers abandon their carts so if they see one empty they are on it like a blackbird on a junebug so as to keep the aisles clear and probably to appear busy. A policy probably written by lawyers. It is irritating.

  24. Christopher Chapman

    August 27, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Hey Kerry,
    I can TOTALY RELATE to what yer sayin’…. I myself had a run in with two f*ck nuggets in the parking lot at Mc Donalds…. My wife had drove me over to get a quick bite before returning back to my company area.. Well, said nuggets had noticed my 2/75 scroll and tab and A-S-S-U-M-E-D due to my average stature I would be a push over to harass…. Needless to say if my wife hadn’t kept me from “un leashing the dawgs of war” on their young asses I’d be at Ft. Lavenworth now….

  25. Scott

    September 4, 2013 at 9:46 am

    I had been back from Afghanistan maybe a week and a half and was at a bar playing pool with a friend back home on my R&R. I had only had about 4 beers all night and this dude and his fat girlfriend decided to stand right by our pool table and have a conversation. My friend and I both on multiple occasions said “excuse me” so we could shoot. Then the fat woman decides to sit on our table during a game. I lost it. I went off on her to get her fat fucking ass off my table and that I’ve asked nicely more than a few times and they have no fucking respect to sit on my table during the game. The guy turns to me and said “what did you say to my girlfriend?” I said something like “apparently you got too much shit in your ears to hear what the fuck I said and to have some god damn respect for other people around you and go get a table or stand in the corner. He made a fist and my friend walks up with the bottom half of his cue stick ready to swing. I told the guy “you sure you wanna ride this train?” He grabbed his girlfriend and said “let’s go” and they left. I couldn’t believe they thought it was ok to block someone’s game repeatedly and then sit on the damn table. What the fuck is wrong with people?

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