By Christian Davenport Washington Post Staff WriterHe knows they’re going to stare. They always stare. As soon as Pat Murray steps in the elevator, they’ll notice his prosthetic leg and maybe accurately surmise that, yes, he is an Iraq war veteran, and, yes, he got blown up. Then the sadness will sink in, the pity, and they’ll give him that look, which he can sense even if he doesn’t see, and it will be an uncomfortable few floors up. So as Murray approaches the elevator and the woman thrusts her hand between the closing doors for him, he says, “Careful, you can lose a limb that way.” “Oooh,” the woman says, noticing Murray’s metal leg. She’s obviously shocked, unsure of what to say or how to act. Murray flashes a smile, lets loose an “it’s okay” chuckle, and suddenly the ride up isn’t nearly so awkward after all. It’s that type of humor — spontaneous (he once asked his doctor when his leg would grow back), cunning (he tells children who ask about his “robot” leg that he didn’t eat his vegetables) and, at times, gruesome (there are stump jokes that can’t be printed here) — that helped him come to terms with the fact that his right leg is no more.
Monday, July 27, 2009