In the military there has always been and will continue to be a clear cut dichotomy between those who really serve the country and those who expect to be served. I remember Charlie Z, a major assigned to the air traffic control element at HQ 15 Air Force. The very epitome of the latter type, seldom did a week go by that Charlie wouldn’t find a way to take credit for the work of others in pursuit of higher, unearned office.
October 1, 2011 by Ron Scott
On one memorable occasion, hearing that the Plans and Operations Division had just obtained specs for the newly digitalized, B-52 navigation system, Charlie walked into our office and asked for a copy of the audio presentation so he could brief the Commander. Charlie, incidentally, would be the last person on station to present such a briefing so everyone in the office knew he just wanted it for personal use, perhaps a presentation of some sort in pursuit of his masters degree.
Suspecting that he, in fact, was going to just play it in one of his classes and that he probably wouldn’t even listen to it before he turned it on, I begged his indulgence telling him that there was only one copy and that I would necessarily have to make a copy of the cassette. (At the time I had two high speed duplicators that I had acquired while stationed at Minot to run a little side business I had selling old time radio tapes.) When I arrived home that night, instead of making a copy of the tape as promised, I pulled out a copy of an old Warner Bros cartoon tape. The first cartoon on the tape was an old favorite of mine — one involving Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam.
The next day Charlie popped into the office and, as promised, I provided him a copy of “the tape” which, unbeknownst to me at the time, he proceeded to deliver to the word processing secretarial staff on the second floor. He told the head gal that he needed a transcript by close of business the same day so he could brief General Murphy the following morning. He then returned to his office.
It wasn’t but a few minutes later when Charlie received a call the word processing center. Charlie pushed the conference intercom button on the phone as he always did, broadcasting the call to all within earshot.
“Major Zukerman.” he announced in his practiced authoritarian tone of voice.
“Major, this is Sally in the word processing center,” she said. (Sally was the pool’s supervisor.)
“Yes, Sally. Is there something I can help you with?” Charlie asked.
“Well, yes. We need a little clarification. Do you want Yosemite Sam in all caps or would you prefer we use upper and lower case?”
According to the head honcho sitting nearby, Charlie immediately cut the call short and bolted upstairs. He was quickly followed by three members of his fellow staff who had heard the exchange and, not coincidentally, had been informed of the switch that had been made to set Charlie Z up.
Well, when Charlie arrived in the word processing center the tape was being broadcast over the intercom system and everyone was having a grand laugh. A short guy, barely tall enough to see over the office counter (not just a little reminiscent of Yosemite himself), he had no choice but to stand there hoping upon hope that he could get the tape back before someone in General Murphy’s office overheard it and demanded an explanation.
Charlie never again asked for a copy of the tape and, as one might well imagine, it didn’t take long for his story to make the rounds because the inevitable question would always arise when a co-worker would refer to him as Yosemite. “Why do you call him that?”