Hurry Up and Wait


Sir, permission to speak, major sir. Go ahead, private.
Sir, what time is the 10 o’clock inspection, major sir?
You mean the ten hundred hours inspection, private?

Sir, yes sir, I mean ten hundred hours inspection, sir.
The inspection will be at ten hundred hours, private.
Sir, yes sir, however we’ve been standing here since

ten hundred hours for thirty minutes now, major sir.
It will be ten hundred hours when I say it is, private,
as he checks his watch, waits for the colonel to arrive.

Will I ever get the military out of my mind, must each
situation become another army wrinkle in time? While
I wait thirty minutes past my 10 o’clock appointment,

ponder if I should be the private, ask the receptionist
how much longer until my 10 o’clock job interview or
take the role of major and wait for the colonel to arrive.

—Carl “Papa” Palmer

Department of the Army retirement ceremony

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May 2023