The Recruiter

When I was seventeen, a military recruiter who must have lifted my home phone number from a college application or SAT registration or perhaps through some more nefarious means; several times a month the recruitment office would call asking for me.

I spent my afternoons in high school drama club rehearsals or otherwise involved with a nerdy activity. I never was home to answer the call though my mother would dutifully pass on the messages. For months the recruitment office called every other week or so. I have always been too tall to comfortably fit on a naval vessel and my eyesight has always been too poor to pilot a fighter jet. And I have never had a desire to fire a gun. Sure, the battle dioramas at the museum at West Point fascinated me, but I always much preferred looking down on the still-life action then entertaining any fantasy of marching off into battle.

Finally, the recruiter called one evening while I was at home. I picked up the heavy plastic rotary phone in my parents’ bedroom. The conversation went something like this:

“This is [Captain Yossarian] down at your local recruitment center. With high school graduation coming up soon, have you given any consideration to joining the US military?”

Me: “No.”

Yossarian: “Well joining the US Military can be a great way to help pay for college and provide great career opportunities after serving.”

Me: “Yes, I’ve seen the television commercials. But I’m not going to enlist.”

The emphatic rejection must have shocked Yossarian because he paused for a few seconds seemingly without knowing what to say. “Do you mind if I ask why?”

Me: “History. I’ve read a lot of history.”

Yossarian muffled a chuckle on the other end, probably conceding me as a lost cause. “Alright then,” he said, “I guess I can understand that.”

Our conversation ended and the recruitment office never called again.

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