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The long haired officer by thadeusz
My name is Peter Riker. Those of you who have read "Marine against his will” know how I was tricked by a Marine recruiter to sign an apparent innocent piece of paper which was in fact a "promise to enlist”. I did not not realize this before I was arrested "for being AWOL” on my way to graduate school. This resulted in me losing my big blond mane and becoming a US MARINE, and even a MARINE officer. I also explained there that after Boot Camp, an intelligent officer assigned me to a MARINE research lab where I was told to work and do research in chemistry, which is exactly what I wanted to do in graduate school. In this lab, I was told to work under the guidance of a young 2nd Lt named Arthur.
Arthur and I were of the same age. We had both studied chemistry in college and we were there to do research. The main difference was that Arthur was an officer and that I was a LCPL. Another difference was that I arrived there after going through Boot Camp, while Arthur had gotten his commission by taking NROTC credits while in college. A third difference was that I had learned through my adventures in Boot Camp and also prior to Boot Camp that my uniform had to be perfectly neat and well ironed, and that my hair had to remain very short; Arthur was rather sloppy with his uniform and kept his hair as long as possible, despite several remarks by the officer commanding our lab.
Despite these differences it was impossible for us, working constantly together in the same field, not to become friends. But the regulations imposed severe restrictions : Arthur could call me "Peter” or "Riker”, but I had to reply saying "Sir”. Even if it was to make a simple remark or to formulate a simple conclusion about an experiment we were doing. It was thus impossible for us to go friendly and have a drink together. Things changes as soon as I came back from OCS as a 2nd Lt : Arthur was still a 2nd Lt, so we were equal in rank.
We were still working together, but we were both officers and even if I was younger in grade, we could go and have a drink together. Arthur never told me anything about his youth, his sloppy uniform or his long hair. One evening, while we were having a drink outside camp, Arthur looking at me, asked :
"Why didn't you take NROTC credits while you were in college ? It would have been easier for you since you wanted to become officer ?”
"Because I did not want to join the military. I wanted to go as civilian to graduate school!”
Arthur looked at me, in Marine corps uniform, with very short hair and appeared stunned.
"But then why did you join the Marine Corps ?”
So I told him the whole story : how the recruiter cheated on me and made me sign a paper, saying it was to acknowledge his visit while it was in fact a promise to enlist after college. I also told him I had been arrested and how my long blonde mane had been shaved, how I had the choice between prison without grad school and enlistment with a job in a research lab. I also said that at that time, I enlisted but I was decided to leave the Corps as soon as my contract was finished.
He then asked "But why did you decide to go to OCS : it means a much longer contract?”
"Because it was more comfortable to be an officer, and also because I was told that if I refused to go to OCS, I would be thrown out of the lab.” This was partially true : the Major commanding the lab had in fact told me that he wanted me on his research team because I was good and Arthur was not ! This implied that I would have the possibility to do research, but this part of the story I kept for me.
"Now that you are an officer, why do you keep your hair so short ? You don't have to and I hate it”
"I would certainly not be allowed to have again a long blond mane. Moreover, when I became LCPL, after a certain time, I got used to having short hair. It is easier to comb, and in the morning it takes less time in the shower !” I could understand his question : I kept my hair so short that it looked like an induction cut, having been forced to accept that once, I had decided that it was good for me !
The day after that, or better the night after, Arthur, who kept his hair as long as was permitted (and probably slightly longer) started to tell me his story. After the first drinks, we went on with a meal and we ended up very late at night. Once Arthur had started, he could not stop: he was so full with his past and had probably never told anything about his feelings to anybody. Here is Arthur's story !
Arthur has a brother, Steven, three years and a half older than he is. They were born in a military family : father and grandfather were both officers. When Arthur was young, his father was always far away. So the two boys lived with their mother in their aunt's and uncle's house. The aunt was their mother's sister. They were happy there, playing with their cousins : a boy and a girl. Their mother had chosen for them an old fashioned haircut in the style of the long locks of Little Lord Fauntleroy. Unluckily for Arthur and Steven, when Arthur was 12 and in 7th grade and his brother Steven already in 10th grade, their mother died of cancer. Their father came for the funeral: it was probably the first time Arthur met him. Arthur's father was a Marine officer, recently promoted to Colonel. He promised to take care of his sons, but he first had to leave and get organized. So, he left them with their aunt and uncle, saying that he hoped that next time they would have a decent haircut.
He came back in July and told the boys and the rest of the family that he would first take them to a Summer Camp and then to his new home, near the base he was now commanding. They would have their room in his new home, on campus (meaning on the base), and would go to a school in the neighborhood. Arthur was going to start his 8th grade and Steven his 11th grade. The aunt and uncle regretted the departure of the two boys, but they had no valid reason to object. They simply made the boys promise they would write often.
The Colonel in fact took the boys to a Military Summer Camp in a military school. Arthur told me that when they arrived, he was frightened: he did not know his father well and knew he would be left in this camp all alone during 4 weeks. As soon as they arrived, Arthur and Steven were separated: the Colonel had insisted on that explaining that each boy was now old enough to learn to live all by himself. Arthur said: "As soon as we had been separated, the camp administration asked for my name and stuck a sticker with that name on my T-shirt, they pushed me then quickly into a passage before I had had time to say goodbye to my father. The passage led to the school barber: there I was forced to sit on an armchair and the barber started to work with my hair. Curl after curl he took them all away. In fact he used clippers in order to go faster. I could not see what he was doing, but I could feel the clippers on my head. Close, very close to my skin. I really did not like that because I was used to have a kind person, often a lady, cutting the excess in my curls. That day, I was really frightened: did my father know what was happening ? Did he approve it ? Why did he want that ? While I was wondering about all that, the barber had finished his job. He turned the armchair so I could see myself and I discovered that I was completely bald, or at least completely shaved. I looked like a prisoner I had once seen on the news and I did not like that. The barber told me that he had painfully succeeded to make me look like a man and not a sissy. I did not react but I felt like a prisoner. Later I had the opportunity to speak with Steven who told me he had answered to the barber ‘I am not a sissy, but you are a criminal' and the barber started to laugh ! I hated what he had made of me, the look he had given me, and I hated my father for what he had done to me. But I was only 13, too young to dare say it aloud.”
Arthur explained further that he was told to "hurry up to the counter and wait there”: "hurry up and wait”, very usual for a Marine, but Arthur was a boy who felt abandoned by his father. At the counter he was measured and got a set of uniforms. From what he described I gathered that it was a typical MCJROTC utility uniform: three green utility uniforms with a MARINE utility cover, but without any MCJROTC patch. Arthur also received boots which he described as rather comfortable, three uniform T-shirts with the name of the school, two shorts and a swimming suit. All boys received the same uniform and had to change into it very rapidly. Their own clothes were taken away (later Arthur heard that they had been sent to his father). Arthur was then lead to a room he would have to share with another boy for the duration of the Camp.
The Camp activities, as Arthur described them, were rather classical activities : sports, drill, and all other kinds of training activities, including swimming. Nothing of all that appeared to me as bad or nasty for the boys, but Arthur was only 13. He had not been warned and his father had not explained anything, so my friend was afraid and considered all this as a very bad punishment for him, but he did not say a word about it. During all the Summer Camp Arthur could only be in contact with boys of his "Platoon” and was thus completely separated from his brother Steven, which made Arthur's life even worse. Arthur told me "The first night, I cried like a little boy. I tried to do it in silence, but the other cadet in my room noticed it and the next day, at breakfast, the whole platoon knew about it. They called me ‘the crying hair', and that stuck ! It did not make my life easier during this camp”
The kids at this Summer Camp prepared feverishly for their final graduation parade. That last day, the Colonel came to admire his sons and take them back home. That day, from what I gathered from Arthur's story, the Colonel made a dreadful mistake: instead of trying to befriend his sons, whom he did not really know, and show them he really loved them like a father should do, he simply took them apart after the end of the graduation parade and asked:
"That was well done sons, did you like this uniformed Summer Camp ?”
Steven immediately reacted: "I hated every moment of it !”
"Too bad, this place is going to be your new school and you will start here as boarders in two weeks time. You will be Marine Cadets, isn't that great ?”
"No, I don't want to be a Marine cadet, I want to go to my old school” said Steven.
"That is no longer possible, I made the decision. Moreover, when you address me, you start and end with ‘Sir' since I am an officer. Understood ?”
"Yes, dad” replied Steven.
"I said that you must address me as ‘Sir', cadet Steven.”
"But you are my dad !”
"Steven you will be punished for that ! Look at your brother Arthur's behavior: he is much better than you.”
Indeed, Arthur told me that he was so afraid by his father's decision to lock him in that military school as cadet and boarder, that he said nothing.
Now that Arthur had started talking, he could not stop and I kindly listen to my friend's old story. A sad story which could have been very nice if the kids' father had tried to understand them, to explain them his wishes instead of giving orders like the officer he had been trained to be !
The colonel took his sons to his home which was inside the base he was now commanding. He told them that in order not to give them bad habits, and since the base was reasonably close to the school he would apply one of the school rules, which said "As long as a cadet is less than 60 miles from the school, he must be in uniform”. The colonel decided to apply this rule, despite the fact that his sons were on holiday and were not even formally cadets in that school! The base was farther than 60 miles, but for the colonel it was good enough. When they arrived at the base, the boys were still in Summer Camp uniform and the Colonel did not want them to be clad otherwise, while on the base … and he forbade them to leave the base. The Colonel also showed the boys to their room which he had arranged to look exactly like the room which had been theirs at the Summer Camp, with the exception that they now had the possibility to share the room and be again reunited.
The next morning, the boys were woken up early and told by their father to get ready. They had to put on the sport outfit they got at their future school and join the Marines who were doing their morning sport, then to go back and clean their room, get a shower, put on their school uniform (which looked very much like an actual Marine uniform) and go to the base barber: their hair had been slowly growing since the initial shaving at the start of the Summer Camp. When in the barber's place, the Colonel ordered that Arthur would get a very short High & Tight, but for Steven, since he was punished, he ordered the barber to shave his hair off using no attachment on his clippers. Arthur told me that "after that, Steven, who was already quite tall, looked like a real Marine and did not seem to like it”. It is only after all these events that the colonel took his boys with him to the mess hall for "a fast breakfast in the Marine Corps fashion”. He then took the boys to one of the Drill Instructors and told him, showing Steven "This boy is a son of mine but he is rather a rebel. You take him with your men and train him to be polite the Marine way”. And Steven had to stay with the DI for the day. Arthur, once again separated from his brother, was allowed to go back to the Colonel's house and "get ready for school”. There his father called a Cpl and ordered him to help Arthur get ready "both mentally and physically” for his next step: becoming a cadet. Arthur told me that the Cpl taught him how to salute, speak, march and even eat as a little soldier, but in a friendlier way than what was done to Steven. After that Arthur, was still afraid, but he was very careful to speak to his father as his father expected him to do: in the military way.
During what should have been holidays, every morning at 04:30, Steven was woken up, had to get in uniform and go to the DI for "training”. Every evening he came back late, more or less disgusted by his day. Steven never told in details to his younger brother what he had to do with the DI, but he advised him to "avoid punishment in order to avoid the DI”.
After two weeks at "home”, the Colonel took his boys back to the Military School. All new boys had to go through a somewhat grueling "plebe training” of 4 weeks, during which they could not have any contact with the outside world. But Steven and Arthur had been through Summer Camp, and thus did no longer need to be treated as plebe. This was without the Colonel's rigor. As soon as they had arrived and had been greeted by one of their former Camp Instructor, the Colonel said that he did not want any favor for his sons. In fact he had arranged for his sons to go nevertheless through plebe training. As before, the boys got a sticker with their name on their vest (which was already a uniform vest, but without the school patches) and were shoved into the barber's place. Steven was shaved again, despite the fact that his hair was very very short. Arthur had started to get used to his H&T, but he had nevertheless to sit in the barber's armchair. The barber said that it was a pity to have to shave this nice Marine cut, but the Colonel had been inflexible: Arthur was also going to have his head completely shaved "in order to become a man” and to start his cadet life as the others. This was really painful for Arthur who had done everything he could to accept the haircut his father had imposed on him in the Base, hoping to gain his love. But showing love for his sons was asking too much to the Colonel.
After the barber, the boys were sent, with all the others, to the Quartermaster. They had to stand in front of a long counter where they received a big bag with all the uniforms they needed: new BDUs with MCJROTC patches on one sleeve and the School name on the other, utility cover and also several elements of service uniform (in order to be able to change during the week). They of course received the necessary swiming suit (again) and sport uniform. They got the adapted shoes and also a Dress Blue Uniform. In fact it was not less than a complete set of MCJROTC cadet uniform, but with several copies so that they were prepared to wear it every day ! After that they had to change in a special room where all their prior possessions were taken away, in order, they were told, to be sent to their father. Arthur described all that in details as if it had occurred yesterday: obviously this "induction” in his new school had marked him for life.
The two boys were sent to different companies in the school, so that they could not have any contact after school hours: that was also a requirement formulated by the Colonel in order to protect his "good” son (Arthur who seemed obedient since he was saying nothing) from the influence of his "bad” son (Steven, the rebel). They were also attending different classes since Arthur was in 8th grade and Steven was going to start his 11th grade.
The "grueling” plebe training period was not really grueling, but the hazing by older boys, higher ranking cadets, in a certain way traumatized Arthur. After the end of plebe training, when each new cadet had received an emblem inspired from our EGA, the classes really started. Arthur, knowing nothing better was obedient and studied well, although not in a very creative way. My friend discovered later that this was the case with his brother: Steven appeared to be more imaginative and ingenious, which valued him very high marks, but this ingeniosity went with a sort of freedom of mind which was not acceptable in a military academy. When the boys went home for their first vacation, the Colonel appeared satisfied with Arthur's results but not with Steven's disciplinary results. Acting as a Marine officer, and not as a father, he immediately sent his sons to the barber, Arthur for a refreshing haircut: a short H&T, but Steven for a new shave ! Steven, who had just turned 17, was then sent to a Sergeant, with the order to place Steven in re-education, with punished Marines, and keep him there for the duration of the holidays. Arthur was left at home but had to train everyday with a Marine sergeant in order to prepare himself to become a Marine officer.
This lasted for a whole school year: when holidays time came, the two boys came home all by themselves and in uniform. The colonel checked their school reports. Arthur's was correct as far as academic matters were concerned, but he was described as "an obedient cadet” as far as discipline was concerned; Steven was brilliant in all academic domains, but had very poor results as far as discipline was concerned, there were also very negative remarks from his military instructor. As a result of all that, the Colonel made two decisions for his sons : Arthur got a short H&T while Steven got a new shave. Then Steven was sent to re-education where he was drilled by a DI who had been ordered to try to "break him”, but Steven resisted. Arthur simply had to train with selected Marines or to read in order to prepare the rest of his studies. He did not like it and asked several times to be allowed to go and visit his aunt and uncle. The father always replied that it would not be good for his "morale” and that he had to stay, in uniform, on the Base. Finally Arthur got tired of asking, tired of writing letters to people he was not allowed to see, or to phone to. But Arthur also got tired to read and read and read to prepare the rest of the year: he wanted to play, as would be normal at the age of 13, and preferably to play with other children his age. But that was forbidden: the only interactions he could have were interactions with a Sergeant and, on the good days, with the Marines with whom he was training. The consequence of all that was that at the end of the year Steven had excellent school results but a very bad disciplinary report, Arthur had abandoned the fight and had plain school results and bad disciplinary results for the last quarter, but excellent ones for the rest of the time. The Colonel did not hesitate and he sent both his sons to a summer Boot Camp for the Summer holidays. There, both had their head shaved, but got a stupid and uncomfortable uniform and to make sure they would not go away, both had to wear an electronic bracelet.
At the end of the summer, the two brothers were called in the office of the head of the camp, their father was present. He asked them "Are you ready now to behave as good well disciplined cadets, good learners and future Marines, or do I have to leave you here longer”
Steven was the first to react and his reaction astonished Arthur, more by the way he said it than by the content: Steven simply said "Yes, Sir” using the tone he had been told by force to use when speaking to the Boot Camp educators. Arthur confirmed that he would from now on, again be a "good” cadet.
After that, both boys went back to their military school, but their father arranged that they could stay in the institution during the holidays. Both had from then on simple High & Tight haircut. There was nevertheless a difference : Steven, who was brilliant during classes, always managed not to be promoted without behaving too badly and thus without being punished. Arthur started as Cadet Pvt and eventually became in his Senior year a Cadet Staff Sergeant. The colonel kept visiting regularly and dutifully his sons during the holidays, but he never more took them to their "home”. The boys did not write to their aunt and uncle : Arthur said "I was too ashamed of what I was to write to my family”.
When Steven reached his senior year, his father asked him what he wanted to do later. Steven told him that he wanted to study English literature and become a poet. His father objected that this would lead him nowhere. On the contrary, the Colonel refused to help Steven unless he applied for a NROTC scholarship, or another military scholarship. Steven remained quiet, did not apply for such a scholarship and as soon as he had his diploma, he used the fact that he was older than 18 now and he disappeared, not telling his father or Arthur where he went.
After telling me all that, Arthur who had drunk a lot, stopped speaking and I felt I had to stay with him in order to help him going home. The next day, in the lab, he was still dreaming while pretending he was working with me !
A week later, Arthur told me "I did not finish my story. If i started it, it is only because Steven had sent me a message. He is well and teaches English as he hoped he would be able to do. Shall we go out again this evening and may I tell you the end of my stupid sad story ? Please say yes, you are the best Marine I ever met.”
I accepted but I invited Arthur at my place, expecting him to drink a lot once again ! It would be easier to help him if we were both in my small apartment, on the base !
Arthur thus came to my place and resumed his story.
He started with his brother's story: "As soon as Steven had his diploma, he left the school not saying where he was going to. He was still a minor, but for long. So when my father tried to have the police find him, he got no help. Especially because Steven had left a note saying ‘I leave in order to be free and to to be able to study what I really want'. It is only now that he sent me a letter explaining what he did. I will tell you that later. Let me first get rid of my story. You will be the only one, with the major to know it”. The Major was our chief, the head of our lab.
So, when Arthur was in his senior year, his father told him to apply for an NROTC scholarship and Arthur being the obedient boy we now know applied. Having a father Colonel and being in a Military School, plus having decent school results, helped Arthur to get a scholarship for a Military 4 year college : The Citadel. There again when he arrived his head was shorn, but he had been warned and was ready for all the hazing he would have to undergo as "plebe” during his first year. He considered that he had no choice, except obeying his father. He was again in uniform, no longer a marine uniform, but a uniform copied on West Point uniforms. He was now allowed to go to his father's house during the holidays, provided he remained in uniform and kept a very short High and Tight. Arthur graduated, with a major in chemistry, as a Marine Corps 2nd Lt. His father wanted him in his regiment. Arthur really did not like this idea, but as usually he did not know how to object: he was unable to oppose himself to his father. Luckily for him, while he was in TBS, he heard that a new US Marine research lab was looking for of able and young researchers in chemistry for specialized researches. In a surge of energy that he still does not understand, and that he could not explain to me, he applied for this job. In fact, now that I am at the head of this lab, and now that I have interviewed many young officers and some able Marines for a job, I believe that Arthur had unconsciously realized that going to this lab was a way to escape to the future his father had imagined for him: applying for this research job, far from his father's regiment, was his way to "kill his father”.
Arthur was told to go to the lab and there he was interviewed by head of the research unit, our Major. The major did not only look at his results in the University, but asked him about his potential research project, the research he might wish to start as an extension of his Undergraduate studies. The Major, Arthur told me, also asked him about his motivations and started questioning him about his past. That is when Arthur told him his whole story, the story I just told you. Apparently Arthur was convincing and got the job. It must be said that my friend had worked very well in college and that there were solid hopes he would make a creative researcher, a good worker certainly but creative … that is always like tossing a coin when you look at a boy or a girl fresh out of College. Arthur's father was furious, but could not do anything against a decision coming from higher up.
When his story was finished, Arthur's apparent strength left him. He stopped speaking but kept drinking. In my living, I had the impression to see a little boy without stamina anymore and I was pleased I had told Arthur to come to my place. My friend started to drink beer and other alcohols. He remained silent and I respected his silence. After a certain time he fell asleep on my couch and I did not wake him up before normal breakfast time. I even phoned the lab in the morning telling them that we were both busy "doing some outside research” and that we would be late.
I understood now why Arthur, the good young 2nd Lt who came straight out of a military academy did not look like a real good Marine. He had once had the necessary surge to take a path his father would not have wanted for him, he then decided to change everything. He started to have long hair and to wear a not very neat uniform. He did everything his father would have disliked. I also realized that the major probably wanted me, of all possible Marines, to help Arthur straighten things up. Our chief was very smart : he had not told me to do that, but he only me, when I was promoted to Cpl, that I had to go immediately to OCS and become an officer because "What do you believe you are doing with that slow 2nd Lt of yours ? He needs your scientific help to do his work properly. You must be an officer to do so in order to outrank that idiot who is serving as your mentor for the time being”. In fact he did not want me to help Arthur only on scientific grounds, he wanted me to help him becoming a good Marine. Me, who had been tricked into becoming a Marine, but who had accepted my fate with dignity, wearing always a perfect uniform and having always very short hair.
When Arthur was finally awaken, he looked miserable with his uniform in poor shape, his dirty hair but he also looked more serene than I had ever seen him : he was obviously pleased he had finally succeeded to tell his story.
I first served him some coffee, then I sent him to the shower. When he came back I told him that he could not go to the lab in uniform in which he had slept. Should we quickly go to his place and get a clean and well ironed uniform ?
"That's no use, all my uniform are badly ironed, and badly cleaned”
"In that case, since we are more or less the same size, put one of my uniforms on.”
Arthur did it and instantly looked much better, much more like a Marine officer, than he had been since we first met.
We thus went to the lab and started working together, as usually. The people in the lab could not avoid noticing Arthur's correct uniform, and I even observed that our chief, the Major, looked at Arthur, smiled and then looked kindly at me.
At the end of the day, I told Arthur: "Let's go to my place, I will cook us some steaks and we can have more beers and more discussion if you feel like it”.
I did not tell Arthur, but I had a plan in mind to help him.
We went to my place and had some food and a very limited number of beers. I started then the discussion : "Your uniform are always so wrinkled and crumpled, they look like second hand uniforms, and that's not good for your career”
"I don't want to stay in the Corps”
"So why did you join ? Were you tricked by a recruiter like me ?”
"I was simply afraid of my father”
"Because he forced us, Steven and me, to be in a military boarding school, and because he forced me to go a military university, so now I have a debt for my scholarship”
So I continued : "Do you want me to help you and teach you how to iron your uniform ? I have learned to do it as early as Boot Camp !”
"I know how to clean and iron my uniform. I had to learn in the military school and the military college, I simply don't want to”
"But why ? Is it more comfortable ?”
"So having a disgusting uniform and shaggy hair is a form of revenge ? One way of killing your father ?” That reminded me of my psychology courses.
Arthur nodded and said "Yes” with a long sigh.
"And finally, do you like it ? Do you like the way you look ?”
"Not really, but I don't want to be like my father”
"Would you mind looking like the Major ?”
"Certainly not, he is intelligent and kind”
"So, to sum it up, you live in clothes which are crumpled but you don't like it, and you have long shaggy hair and you don't like it either”
"Correct” another sigh "But I don't want to do what my father wants”
"Don't you think you are giving too much space in your life to your father ? It is YOUR life, and not his life. By behaving the way you do, you are in fact letting him control your life”
"Do you think so ?”
"It is obvious. So now you must decide for yourself what type of haircut you want for yourself, not for your father”
"Well, I like it the way you have your hair” I keep my hair short : a very short High and Tight, but not an induction cut.
"In that case, we go to the camp barber NOW and you tell him what YOU want for yourself.”
We went to the barber, Arthur got his High and Tight and got my usual refresh. I observed my friend while the barber took care of him : in the beginning he was tense, then when the clippers began to do their work, he got hold of the arms of the armchair and did not leave them. When everything was done, he looked in the mirror and asked the barber : "How do you think I would look with an induction cut ?”
I intervened : "Arthur, is that what you want for yourself ?”
"Yes” said Arthur "this time I want to start a new life, next time it will simply be a High and Tight”
And the base barber went on with his work, shaving nearly completely my friend's head who at that time looked relax. He then told me "Today i am able to do all this : I received a letter from Steven and he will be here very soon”
After that, we went to a bar, got a few beers and went to Arthur's place. There I got hold of all his uniforms and showed Arthur how to have them clean and perfectly ironed very rapidly. When that was done, I left him and did not see him before the next day.
I arrived early in the lab, wanting to look at my colleagues when Arthur arrived. They were all very impressed : he was great in his freshly pressed uniform and his induction cut. The Major called me in his office and told me "You did it ! Well done, great job. remind me to promote you to 1st Lt as soon as possible. Now go and work !”
Arthur and i got promoted on the same day, early for me, late for him. But all that, including Steven's story is … another story