During my senior year of high school I kept receiving calls from military recruiters. They wouldn’t stop calling. One of the kids who had been in my freshman science class, Joel Detleff, was going into the Marines, and he worked it out with his recruiter to bring me in to the recruiting station. Apparently they thought that since I didn’t know how to say ‘no’ that meant I was a possible sucker.
I went to the recruiting station with Joel after school one day and the recruiter sat me down in his office and had me take some form of standardized test. At this point I still had absolutely no intention of ever joining any military branch, let alone the Marines. He scored the test and told me that I did extremely well. That meant I would have my choice of what kind of role I wanted to play in the Marines. When I tried to tell him I really liked my friends and my life in Milwaukee he asked me – and I remember this very clearly – ‘Who are you going to listen to regarding your own life, yourself or your friends?’ As if he had somehow made the statement that my personal choice was going into the military. My answer was that I would listen to my friends – partly because at that point in my life, that was probably true. I was very close to a group of people and I didn’t want to leave them. However, I saw that as my way of finally being able to tell this recruiter that I really wasn’t interested. Well, that’s at least how he took it. He looked at me with a disgusted scowl and told me that I wasn’t fit to be a Marine anyway.
The entire time, from the start of the calls to that day in his office, I felt that the recruiter really didn’t care if I wanted to go in or not, he just wanted to meet his quota. It made me feel very uncomfortable and I still feel that way whenever I see recruiting stations.
After that day I would still get calls from other military branches, but not the Marines. At the end of each call they would always ask if I knew any other kids who would be interested. These guys were so pushy I felt I had to give them names – kind of like the Hollywood Blacklist. So I would give them names of kids I knew – NONE of which would probably have any interest at all in the military. I often wondered if those kids had the guts that I didn’t have to just tell those guys that they simply weren’t interested.