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The Truth, Mainly - 10/09/2006

Why I'm not a CEO

Six and a half years ago, soon-to-be President George W. Bush made an odd little statement that's left me a bit uneasy ever since. Here's what he said on Feb. 25, 2000, shortly after he announced he was running for president: "I'm running for CEO of the executive branch."

"CEO"—in case you're as unlearned about such titles as I am—stands for "Chief Executive Officer." I've since been told that it's about as exalted a title as anyone gets in the business world.

Combining Bush's financial successes with his piety, you get the idea that he believes he's a CEO who will be canonized, and has a direct line to whichever deity it is that requires him to make a sign, not of the Cross, but of the Dollar.

That's not to say that CEOs have no real religion—although it's probably a more difficult climb to heaven for them than it may be for others. We all remember what Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 19:24: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

Gives me the fantods every time I cash my Social Security check.

I've never been much of a capitalist. Not because I have anything against capitalism, but because I've never been very good at making it work.

Hey, I was an English teacher for 40 years.

But my father was something of a capitalist. He did a little farming and ran a service station while I was growing up, and he had the odd notion that as the only other male in the family, I should assist him in efforts to make money.

So when I was 14, he put me on his John Deere tractor. I wasn't very good at driving it, especially when he told me to drive it from the field just west of town to the service station for some minor work. Rather than going to the dirt road on the other side of the field, I decided I'd save time by going across the ditch where I already was.

And that's when the prettiest girl in school drove by and waved at me. I was on the cusp of puberty so I fell off the John Deere as it started up the other side of the ditch at about a 30-degree angle. I got up, waved at the pretty girl, and chased the John Deere on foot for about 25 yards or so before I caught it—while she laughed and laughed and laughed.

When someone told my dad they'd seen me chasing the tractor out of the ditch, he decided I wasn't meant to be a farmer, so he put me to work at the service station. I was pretty good at filling up gas tanks, but then he moved me up to changing cars' oil. Here's how:

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Drive the car onto the hydraulic lift, raise it high enough I can stand up under it, unscrew the drain plug on the oil pan, drain the old oil into a bucket, screw the drain plug back in the oil pan, lower the lift to the floor, raise the hood of the car, locate the hole where you put in new oil, back the car off the lift, give the key to the owner and put his money in the cash box.

So when a Oklahoma father and his very pretty daughter asked me to change the oil and "fillerup" with regular, I jumped at the chance to show off. While the very pretty girl watched me, I raised the car on the lift, unscrewed the oilpan plug, drained the old oil, lowered the car back to the floor, raised the hood, put in the new oil.

I watched the very pretty daughter watching me. I decided she probably had the hots for me and I smiled at her.

Then her father began backing his car off the lift. And all three of us noticed the new pool of oil on the floor. He asked me to check his oil. I did. There wasn't any. So the man and his daughter started laughing and I saw the oil pan plug on the floor in the middle of a puddle of very clean oil.

That was the end of my quest to become a CEO of capital enterprise. And so I became an English teacher, thereby saving myself from the humiliation of trying and failing to work my way up to the same CEO status that George Bush has achieved. O, the pain of it all.


Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail address is: leonsatterfield@earthlink.net.


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