Becoming a General

September 22, 2016

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I’m tired of loading trucks and need a job that’ll earn me plenty of money and respect. I don’t want to be a lawyer, those guys are thieves, and studying science makes me sick so I can’t be a doctor. I suppose I could sell real estate but need something a lot more exciting. I want to be a general, I tell my dad.

You better get back to college, like I told you, he says. There’s an article in the Washington Post today about what it takes.

I read the article online and at first feel discouraged but decide to find out what the army thinks. I don’t mean a recruiter. Those guys are underlings. And I sure don’t want to talk to the uniformed guard at the entrance to this army base.

I need to talk to a general, I tell him.

Do you have an appointment, sir.

No, but I’ve got a list I need to discuss with the general.

Sorry, sir, but you’ll have to drive right around this guard post, turn around, and drive off the base.

Sure, I say, and accelerate into the base and skid around several turns, as a military vehicle chases me, and locate the biggest building and run inside ahead of a guy yelling, stop or I’ll shoot.

I see an authoritative man walking toward the front doors.

Sir, are you a general, I ask.

I am, he says.

Careful, sir, he’s probably a terrorist. Put your hands up, the MP tells me.

I follow the order, wanting to impress the general as well as avoid getting blown away.

Are you a terrorist, young man, asks the general.

No, sir. I’m here because I want to be like you.

You’re a long way from that.

How do I become a general.

He laughs. You’ve got to join the army first.

Can we please discuss the requirements. I’ve got a list.

Shall I arrest him, general.

No, I’ll talk to him here. He motions to some cushioned seats in the lobby.

Point number one says I’ll have to attend a service academy.

It helps, more now than ever, says the general. But Colin Powell only went to City College of New York and joined the ROTC. That’s very much the exception and may not happen again, especially if the officer candidates, like Powell, are just C students.

Point two says I’d have to get the right assignments in the right places and take a lot of unpleasant assignments in rough places.

That’s correct – like Iraq and Afghanistan, the general says. We don’t have many assignments in Beverly Hills.

I see I’d have to be about the best officer around for twenty years.

Think you can do that.

Frankly, sir, I do not.

Let me see your list. Point four, have you or your spouse had any legal problems.

I’m not married, and I’ve only had one DUI.

Here’s point six – your health. How is it.

I’m in great shape and never ill.

Finally, a good one for you. Now, point seven. How are your political skills. Do you know how to cover your ass while taking out other people’s balls.

That I can learn.

Point eight. When you get married you better stay married.

Maybe I’ll stay single.

Not if you want to be a general. You aren’t gay, are you.

No sir.

That’s good, but I still don’t believe you’re fit for high command.

What do you recommend.

You’re a strong, half-crazed young man who’s willing to take people out. There may be some mercenary jobs for you overseas.

George Thomas Clark

George Thomas Clark is the author of Hitler Here, a biographical novel published in India and the Czech Republic as well as the United States. His commentaries for are read in more than 50 countries a month.

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