Brief as Photos – 19: Ambassador to the South

He thought he would make an exceptional ambassador one day. He lobbied hard to get a stretch assignment even in the belly of Africa but was not quite lucky. Instead he got a Principal Officer’s assignment in some backwater country. It was not the ambassadorship he had hoped for but the country was large and his consular district straddled two-thirds of the country. So he was not entirely unhappy.

He was in one of his trips to the southernmost part of his district when he realized that people had difficulty trying to understand his title as principal officer of the consulate. He thought of introducing himself as the American Consul, but his hosts often think of that as exactly the same level as the Honorary Consul of Belgium or Liechtenstein or some other old European country. In one of his radio interviews, he explained his role as kind of the “ambassador to the south.” And before long, he was being introduced as the U.S. ambassador to the south. He was quite popular wherever he went. He visited just about every large city in his district and a few smaller towns with ethnic and indigenous populations. He shook hands and chatted with politicians in fancy clothes, tribal leaders in colorful attires, farmers working in their fields, housewives carrying babies, students in town hall meetings and more. He listened and dutifully wrote a cable after every trip. He told himself that sooner or later, somebody was going to discover the wisdom of his insights, as well as his reporting skills, and send him somewhere important.

In May, he received word that the US ambassador wanted to host an official 4th of July celebration in his district. It was going to be their largest reception ever, as the U.S. ambassador wanted to meet all their local contacts in the southern part of the country. By early June the list had been finalized, the invitations all sent out, and his office was conducting telephonic confirmation for all the missing RSVPs.

The 4th of July reception at the residence was the talk of the town. On the night of the reception, the principal officer happily introduced his local contacts to the U.S. ambassador. Some have travelled from the far ends of his district.

A man in a colorful tribal get-up with a large smile walked excitedly towards where the principal officer and the U.S. ambassador were greeting the guests. The officer remembered him as the senior leader of a large tribal group.

“Mr. Ambassador, I’m so glad to see you again, sir!” the man said as he shook the principal officer’s hands.

The principal officer quickly introduced the tribal leader to the ambassador, hoping the latter would put the incident to nothing more than ignorance on the part of the guest.

But the tribal leader was not to be deterred. “It is nice to have two ambassadors here; it shows that we are a very important country,” he declared.

“Mr. Salamuddin,” the principal officer interrupted, “we only have one American Ambassador here. I work for him.”

“But I don’t understand, you are the ambassador to the south, no?” the tribal leader persisted.

The principal officer dared not look at his boss’ face. With an arm across the tribal leader’s shoulder, he quietly walked him away from the receiving line.

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About this series and the All Persons Fictitious Disclaimer

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Brief as Photos – 19: Ambassador to the South

He thought he would make an exceptional ambassador one day. He lobbied hard to get a stretch assignment even in the belly of Africa but was not quite lucky. Instead he got a Principal Officer’s assignment in some backwater country. It was not the ambassadorship he had hoped for but the country was large and his consular district straddled two-thirds of the country. So he was not entirely unhappy.

He was in one of his trips to the southernmost part of his district when he realized that people had difficulty trying to understand his title as principal officer of the consulate. He thought of introducing himself as the American Consul, but his hosts often think of that as exactly the same level as the Honorary Consul of Belgium or Liechtenstein or some other old European country. In one of his radio interviews, he explained his role as kind of the “ambassador to the south.” And before long, he was being introduced as the U.S. ambassador to the south. He was quite popular wherever he went. He visited just about every large city in his district and a few smaller towns with ethnic and indigenous populations. He shook hands and chatted with politicians in fancy clothes, tribal leaders in colorful attires, farmers working in their fields, housewives carrying babies, students in town hall meetings and more. He listened and dutifully wrote a cable after every trip. He told himself that sooner or later, somebody was going to discover the wisdom of his insights, as well as his reporting skills, and send him somewhere important.

In May, he received word that the US ambassador wanted to host an official 4th of July celebration in his district. It was going to be their largest reception ever, as the U.S. ambassador wanted to meet all their local contacts in the southern part of the country. By early June the list had been finalized, the invitations all sent out, and his office was conducting telephonic confirmation for all the missing RSVPs.

The 4th of July reception at the residence was the talk of the town. On the night of the reception, the principal officer happily introduced his local contacts to the U.S. ambassador. Some have travelled from the far ends of his district.

A man in a colorful tribal get-up with a large smile walked excitedly towards where the principal officer and the U.S. ambassador were greeting the guests. The officer remembered him as the senior leader of a large tribal group.

“Mr. Ambassador, I’m so glad to see you again, sir!” the man said as he shook the principal officer’s hands.

The principal officer quickly introduced the tribal leader to the ambassador, hoping the latter would put the incident to nothing more than ignorance on the part of the guest.

But the tribal leader was not to be deterred. “It is nice to have two ambassadors here; it shows that we are a very important country,” he declared.

“Mr. Salamuddin,” the principal officer interrupted, “we only have one American Ambassador here. I work for him.”

“But I don’t understand, you are the ambassador to the south, no?” the tribal leader persisted.

The principal officer dared not look at his boss’ face. With an arm across the tribal leader’s shoulder, he quietly walked him away from the receiving line.

Read:
About this series and the All Persons Fictitious Disclaimer

Brief as Photos – 18: New Hire

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

After they’ve completed one domestic tour and halfway through their third overseas tour, she became convinced that real jobs were difficult to come by in this lifestyle. She hated begging for jobs at every post. It was not that she was not capable; there were just not enough jobs to go around.

One day she made the leap to becoming a secretary; she thought this would afford her a job as she moves around with her husband every two-three years. She taught herself the Microsoft suite, applied online and easily got into the OMS program. She left her two kids with her husband in South America and went back to DC for training. They talked every week and she worked really hard. She had no problem completing the training but she missed her family every single moment. Then she learned that she was going to Barbados for her first assignment.

Considering the other places where she could have ended up for her first directed assignment, Barbados seemed like heaven. Except that her husband was being sent to the other side of the world. She came up with four locations where she and her husband could have served together but the assignment office told her “no.” She helpfully pointed out that one of the four places in her list had not been filled for the last two assignment cycles. The answer was still “no.” She talked it over with her husband and they’ve decided she should still go to Barbados. So she put in a request to visit her family and pack out before she shipped out to Barbados. The answer was also “no.” There was no time to spare; she was needed at post immediately. She wondered out loud if the needs of the Service will now always outweigh the needs of her family. Her assignment officer did not have anything to say.

One day she was a new hire, a few days later she was part of some statistics. It almost felt like a dream, except that she had a bill asking that she pay back all the training and related expenses. All of it.

Read:
About this series and the All Persons Fictitious Disclaimer

Brief as Photos – 18: New Hire

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

After they’ve completed one domestic tour and halfway through their third overseas tour, she became convinced that real jobs were difficult to come by in this lifestyle. She hated begging for jobs at every post. It was not that she was not capable; there were just not enough jobs to go around.

One day she made the leap to becoming a secretary; she thought this would afford her a job as she moves around with her husband every two-three years. She taught herself the Microsoft suite, applied online and easily got into the OMS program. She left her two kids with her husband in South America and went back to DC for training. They talked every week and she worked really hard. She had no problem completing the training but she missed her family every single moment. Then she learned that she was going to Barbados for her first assignment.

Considering the other places where she could have ended up for her first directed assignment, Barbados seemed like heaven. Except that her husband was being sent to the other side of the world. She came up with four locations where she and her husband could have served together but the assignment office told her “no.” She helpfully pointed out that one of the four places in her list had not been filled for the last two assignment cycles. The answer was still “no.” She talked it over with her husband and they’ve decided she should still go to Barbados. So she put in a request to visit her family and pack out before she shipped out to Barbados. The answer was also “no.” There was no time to spare; she was needed at post immediately. She wondered out loud if the needs of the Service will now always outweigh the needs of her family. Her assignment officer did not have anything to say.

One day she was a new hire, a few days later she was part of some statistics. It almost felt like a dream, except that she had a bill asking that she pay back all the training and related expenses. All of it.

Read:
About this series and the All Persons Fictitious Disclaimer