Flash Talk

Some years ago I was attending an Air Force prep school, a necessary function if I ever hoped to enjoy timely promotions. There were thirty of us in this school, as far as I knew I was the only aircraft maintainer in the group. They were all strangers.

No one was overjoyed with having to attend this school which was similar to boot camp. Consequently, attitude was the prime objective of those in charge. We were required to stay positive in spite of the rough conditions and surprises we encountered at every turn. One morning, immediately following our room inspections, we were directed to assemble in our ready room and await further instructions. After an extended waiting period a master sergeant entered and strode to the podium.

“This morning, gentlemen, you each will perform an extemporaneous speech lasting four minutes. As your name is called you will join me at the back of the room where I will hand you a slip of paper on which you will find your subject. You will have the time it takes you to reach the podium to organize your thoughts. The clock will start when you turn to face your audience.”

I was grateful not to be first. On the other hand the extra time was becoming counter productive. At last I was called and my subject was ATTITUDE.

I was stunned. But by the time the clock started I realized that attitude was the primary subject on everyone’s mind.

Placing my hands on the podium, I let my eyes travel the room, making eye contact with each individual. Perhaps, I used a full minute before I said: “I HATE THIS PLACE!” And then I let my eyes rove again, enjoying the shocked expressions I saw, especially that of the master sergeant. I was into my third minute when I continued in a normal tone … “How many times have you heard these words when the powers that be were not within range to hear them?” I don’t recall how I finished my final minute because this occurred in 1964, fifty years ago.

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