Once Attila the Hun applied for a position in the administration. It didn’t matter where the appointment might be—the vice president’s office, Department of Defense, U. N. delegation, Supreme Court, Department of the Interior—any of them would be “right up my alley,” Attila wrote in the cover letter to his application. The letter hadn’t been easy to get started, mostly because Attila wasn’t sure what salutation to use. Finally he just went with his gut and began, “Greetings from the Scourge of God, Destroyer of Nations, Founding Father of Shock and Awe!” That works, Attila thought to himself. First impressions were important when building a personal relationship of trust and mutual benefit. When you needed to look into the soul of a born leader and find that certain something you could count on. Swagger and tough talk were child’s play, but what was inside a man couldn’t be faked. In that spirit, Attila filled much of the letter with a listing of his qualifications to come on board the team. He alluded to his early education and the contacts he’d made when sent away by his family to school in Rome, being careful to drop a few hints about secret student clubs and such that might catch the eye of any fellow initiate and stand him in good stead. Then there was the list of exploits as a war leader—the razing of cities, the slaughter of enemies and innocents alike, the torture of those who might be either enemies or innocents until “things kind of sorted themselves out in that department,” and the reduction of whole countries to smoldering ruins—all of which he was confident would show he knew something about regime change. But that wasn’t all. Attila was determined not to spoil his chances by appearing overqualified either. More important than experience was the can-do spirit of being ready to make the most out of any opportunity thrown your way, no questions asked and no qualms expressed. And then, of course, there was the whole loyalty thing. One had to be absolute in demanding it and ruthless when enforcing it. Unless, that is, people you were convinced had no loyalty to you whatsoever and no power to touch you were involved. Then the best policy was simply to ignore them as if they weren’t there, or wouldn’t be for long. At least those would be the answers Attila planned to give if asked about loyalty in any interview. Last but certainly not least in his favor, though, had to be his record when it came to plunder. Here solid evidence could be presented, not just the claims any applicant might be tempted to make in a pinch but glowing testimonials from those who’d profited from his patronage to enrich themselves through pillaging the countryside and had dutifully given part of those gains back whenever he’d taken one of his many tribute tours. A warm meal, a few rehearsed remarks, and he’d always carted away enough lucre to launch his next campaign. By the end of his letter, Attila had grown quite confident about his prospects for landing a top post in the administration. When it came down to it, they should thank their lucky stars to have somebody with his strengths interested in joining their team. The only potential hitch he could think of would be if some partisan naysayer held up the nomination in hearings. With that eventuality in mind, Attila added a final sentence that read: I would be available for a recess appointment if necessary.
Copyright © 2006 by Geoffrey Grosshans