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Air Force Recruiting in Philly

The next few days at home I spent recruiting for the Air Force. I went out with this guy Pete White, who, as he would tell everyone is “black.” He would expound on the Air Force from a black perspective as we drove from campus to campus. He’d say things like this...

“You can’t train a man how to use a gun and then not expect him to use it when he comes home. That’s what happened after Vietnam. They just never shoulda trained so many niggers how to use that gun and then not expect him to use it. That’s why we had all those changes in the sixties. They realized that this time we waz gonna use it. Damned right we waz gonna use it.”

We were cruising down Lancaster Avenue on the way to Villanova University, a receptive college.

“I come out here Brian and this looks like wonderland to me pure Disney World.”

I can’t believe the money some a you white folks got and it ain’t a few of you either to judge by the size of these houses and the number of them. Ain’t many of the brothers got houses like this except the ones that made it in sports or entertainment. These people ain’t as bad as the ones in the Northeast though.”

“Sure they’re prejudiced but at least they have the courtesy not to show it to your face. I go out to the Northeast to recruit at high schools and you know what they say to me?

“What do they say to you Pete?” I asked.

“They say “No offense meant sergeant, but ain’t you got any white recruiters in the Air Force?” Can you believe the audacity of those people? I’m gonna push their application real hard after a comment like that right? Like hell I am.”

“So what’s the secret of recruiting Pete?”

“Damned Lieutenant that recruited you doesn’t know it.”

“He expects me to go around to people’s houses asking people to join. Now who the fuck wants an Air Force recruiter to be on their front step? They’ll kill you in this city you pull some shit like that.”

“Secret of recruiting is getting your territory under control. I’m good for a few boys from Temple Villanova, Camden Community College every time I show. Why? Because I talk to the secretaries. World’s run by secretaries. I give ’em a few trinkets they put in a good word for me when these kids half of ’em who don’t know what they want to do when they graduate come in and start to ask questions. I meet or exceed my quota every time too.”

“Now I can’t do that at Penn because there are too many fag professors there who refuse to allow me to recruit.” They get the gay caucus out every time I show up and they set up a booth next to mine. The Air Force doesn’t like the publicity so we just never recruit there anymore.”

“You also gotta know people. I know people all over this damned town. You got a girlfriend?”

“Uh huh.”

“You like the ballet?”


“I got tickets for you then. Two twenty-five dollar tickets. Houze at sound.”

“Sounds good. How did you get them?”

“You let me worry about that....shit, I might as well tell ya. People try to get their kids or their nephews in the service all the time Iotta times just to get rid of them. I see what I can do, they take care of me. They didn’t teach you that at OTS huh?”

“Not really.”

“Lotta things they didn’t teach you at OTS. Stick around Pete and you’ll learn though.”

We pulled into Camden Community College and after Pete chatted up a few secretaries as we set up our booth. A fine looking black woman chatted with him all afternoon as I distributed brochures and information.

“See that chick Brian.”

“How could I avoid her?”

“She gave me her number but she ain’t got a chance.

“Woman with me gotta have a car her own place and lots a money otherwise she don’t mean a thing. They see this uniform they figure I got it a steady job. That can mean a lot in the black world.”

“You have a weddin5 ring on Pete.”

“That don’t mean a thing to these women. They see the uniform they figure it’s steady money. What I want with another woman? I can’t handle the one I got now. You enjoy yourself with your woman tonight, huh?”

“I’ll try.”

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