I recently posted a blog titled "My Last Day in the Army," in which I described my misadventures during my trip to Fort Huachuca on my last day of active duty military service to pick up my final paycheck. However, there is one minor detail that I omitted from my narrative.
In the transition office, where soldiers pick up their final paychecks and take care of dozens of other mundane tasks that must be completed before they exit the military, someone had posted Saxon White Kessinger's semi-famous poem Indispensable Man on the wall. In case you're unfamiliar with it, this is what it says:
Sometime when you're feeling important;
Sometime when your ego's in bloom;
Sometime when you take it for granted,
You're the best qualified in the room:
Sometime when you feel that your going,
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions,
And see how they humble your soul.
Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that's remaining,
Is a measure of how much you'll be missed.
You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop, and you'll find that in no time,
It looks quite the same as before.
The moral of this quaint example,
Is to do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself but remember,
There's no indispensable man.1
In other words, despite many soldiers' years of patriotism, loyalty, diligent work and personal sacrifice, someone in the transition office decided to make it his or her personal mission to let every soldier who passed through the transition office know that they would not be missed, and nothing that they accomplished during their time in service meant anything.
Pardon my language, but the nameless person who posted that poem was an asshole.2
- Saxon White Kessinger, "Indispensable Man," in The Nutmegger Poetry Club (1959). (Note that the author originally published this poem under the name Saxon Uberuaga.)
- I'm ex-military, and I still believe that occasionally there is no substitute for foul language.