Allow me to share a story – it’s a long one. Have a seat.
In my (military, civilian, non-profit, etc) career(s), I haven’t had an opportunity to speak with anyone at the federal, national, even state level, to my knowledge. So when presented with such opportunity, I nicely jumped all over it. Some parts of this event were volun-told, but others were sheer chance alone. During a recent visit from the United States Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen CQ Brown, Jr., as hundreds of people crowded into an auditorium, I took my place about 5 rows from the front. Again, when would a visit from this official ever happen again? We were presented typical pre-speech information: don’t take selfies, turn your phone off, and (my favorite) here’s how to ask a question at the end. My friends and I made small talk, ahem, jokes. I regaled them with the story about the time I sang in front of the installation commander. Them: You can sing?! Me: Hahahaha no. On time as always the General arrived. He is a wonderful speaker, a seemingly humble individual, and a strong leader. His slides were short and his humor spot on. In many ways, he reminded me of my current squadron commander. I truly hope one day he, too, will grace stages with an entourage of security detail and big picture awareness. Approximately 30 mins later, the big QA session began. My hand went up before the words were out of the moderator’s mouth. I stood, politely introduced myself, and asked the following question: “Sir, as you have a high impact, high visibility position, what perception do you think we, as civilians and Airmen, get wrong about what you do?” Silence. Deafening silence. Suddenly I became the recipient of wild looks and laughter. The General began to pace the stage in silence. Finally, he answered. His answer was a well-rounded approach to being a father, husband, and son. He struggles with the same things we do. He worries about his children, now adults themselves. He sits around at night and can’t believe he gets to do what he does. I thanked him for his time so others could ask their questions. Fast forward to my office later – a conversation ensued between the Senior Leader and my supervisor. Cue the laughing. Unbeknownst to me, jokes of stumping the General were made on the surrey as he departed. I can only imagine my commander’s face. Kel, you need to stop speaking.
And that’s how I became known as STUMPER.
I ask you –
Thoughts on the call sign?
Have you ever been laughed at?
Share your wild stories!
(The post Call Sign STUMPER first appeared here at Running on Fumes.)
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