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