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“Who is the old guy that hangs out around here?” I asked. “That’s Sarge, He’s the eyes and ears of the owner, watch it”, was the common reply. I was new in the car business, but, a guy who watches and tells didn’t seem right to me. I didn’t know anything about the guy except that he was old, short and I didn’t trust him. So I made a point of making my position known to him.
I was in a small used car office when Sarge walked in. I don’t even remember what I said to him other than something to piss him off. Apparently this time it did. No sooner did the words leave my lips than Sarge jumped over the desk and put me up against the wall. He grabbed my necktie and spun it around as to restrict my airway. This old, short, retired Sergeant was in the middle of calling me a “smart ass” when I calmly asked him to let me go. I learned that strength is better displayed through endurance then fighting back.
Over the next 20 years I learned a lot more from Sarge. He was a non-commissioned pilot in WWII. He flew supplies to Patton. He dropped Para-troopers into battle. Sarge landed in North Africa and was captured by Rommel. He was a Prisoner of War. Marching through the snow going into Germany he escaped. His description of hiding in French sewers has forever affected any possible positive thoughts of the French and the smell of their food. Sarge talked about getting smuggled across the English Channel in a fishing boat. He said that he spent three weeks drinking before reporting back to duty.
When describing the flack burst that left him peppered with shrapnel, shredded the cockpit of his Bomber and killed his co-pilot, He said “After a couple of minutes you realize that what you feel, running warm down your leg, must not be piss”. Bleeding, he landed that plane.
Sarges told me with tears in his eyes, that he would much rather tell me of the women that he knew and the alcohol he drank, instead of the friends that he lost.
It was a privilege to have learned respect from my friend. I still can’t believe that he jumped over that desk. But I know I’m better for it. Thanks you old goat, for allowing me to learn self worth in a common moment, in a small used car office.
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