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The General's Driver

May 10, 2005

Of all the jobs one can have as a low ranking enlisted man, General's Driver is probably the most prestigious and the one with the most benefits. Because they must drive the general where ever and when ever the general's driver answers to only the general. Many drivers have access to multiple vehicles and usually have a jeep of their own separate from the one in which they usually drive the general. General's driver is definitely good duty.

Although my military occupational specialty was a radio-teletype operator, I spent most of my time working in the troop information and public relations. Working in the Public Information Office was easy duty and I was exempt from most work, but the idea of being personal driver to a general in the 82nd Airborne Division seemed like a good idea.

Along with a few dozen other troopers, I spent most of a day answering questions about the military, my job and world affairs. I was never given a driving test.

I was called into the office of the commander of my unit to be told I should report to Division Headquarters at 10:00 AM the next day for an orientation. I was excited. General's driver in the 82nd Airborne! What more could a guy ask for? Best of all, an introductory letter mentioned that drivers will be permitted 'reading material' while waiting for the general. I could take a book!

The next morning, I reported to Headquarters of the 82nd Airborne staff sergeant major with the words, "Specialist Fourth Class Sayers reporting for duty as General's Driver, Sergeant."

The sergeant was busy with other things and said as he pointed, "...that room is the driver's waiting room. Make yourself comfortable." 

I walked into a clean little room with a few stuffed chairs, a sofa, a bookshelf and a table with a coffee pot steaming hot. I poured myself a cup of coffee and got comfortable in one of the chairs. I had brought my latest reading material which was an almost three inch thick copy of the French existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre's magnum opus, "Being and Nothingness." 

I chuckled to myself as I took a sip of coffee and opened the book. I thought, " I am at the Headquarters of the 82nd Airborne Division, sipping coffee and reading existential philosophy while waiting for a general. Life is good."

My thoughts of the good life were broken when a Captain came in with a pair of Corcoran jumpboots. He said, "Sayers, the General needs these for the parade you are taking him to at 11:00 hours"

"I'm sorry, sir, I don't understand," I said to him.

He replied, "The general needs his boots shined for the parade."

"Are you saying that shining his boots is part of this job, Captain?" I asked somewhat astounded.

"Of course it is," he replied with a look of dismay.

"I don't think so, Sir. Not for me. I don't like to shine my own boots I'll be damned if I'm going to shine someone else's. I quit."

"Are you crazy?! Driving for an 82nd Airborne general is the best job in the whole United States Army, Sayers." he said in total disbelief that I was really quitting.

"No deal, Sir. I'm done. I'm going to see the command sergeant major and resign formally."

I closed my book; took the last swig of my coffee; trashed the cup and headed out the door. The Captain looked on in total shock.

I walked up to the sergeant major's desk; snapped to attention and said, "Specialist Fourth Class Sayers, is resigning duty as general's driver."

"Sayers," he said, "you haven't even been here for twenty minutes! Why are you quitting?"

"The Captain just informed me that one of the jobs of the general's driver is shining the general's boots. I'm not interested in shining another man's boots, sergeant, even if that man is a general. I guess you could say it's against my personal philosophy," I said as pleasantly as possible under the circumstances.

" are relieved of duty as general's driver. You can return to your unit." the sergeant major said with a look of disbelief and disgust.

I did an about face and walked out.


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