Friday, December 28, 2007

Short People

In the early 70s while living in Olympia I happened to hear a radio advertisement soliciting recruits for the Washington State Patrol. The ad said applicants needed two years of college and must be 6 feet tall. However, if you had four years of college and were 5’ 11” tall you could still qualify. Say what? This seemed to suggest that 1” of height equated to two years of college and therefore, someone of my stature (5’ 7”… ignoring the fraction over) would need 12 years of college to qualify! It seemed unlikely to me that anyone with twelve years of college would be interested in becoming a state cop. This arbitrary height requirement also effectively eliminated nearly all women, Asians, Hispanics, American Indians and yes, Blacks. All averaged less than 5’ 8” at that time.

I wrote then governor Dan Evans a tongue in cheek letter complaining. I reasoned that since the State police were using automobiles, guns and pens to write tickets, I could not see where size was a job requirement…. Unless it was for show or, perhaps they had a large inventory of long legged trousers. I told him that only the over crowded field of protesters kept me from starting a “Short Power Movement”. Our theme song would be Randy Newman’s “I Was a Big Man Yesterday but Boy You Oughta See Me Now” and I envisioned “squat-ins” at the Big and Tall shops. The response I received ignored my attempt at humor. Short guys, said Gov. Dan, were quicker to anger and use violence. (Really? Says who?) And, he continued, big guys were less likely to be challenged. Maybe. But, who challenges a guy packing a .357 on his hip?

A few years prior to this amusing exchange I had served with the US Navy SEALS, widely regarded as the most difficult and selective program in anybody’s military. About 200 guys showed up for my training class (#33) and you would have been hard pressed to pick out the 36 that finally graduated. The least effective method would have been to line us up by height and pick the tallest 36! We all learned in those grueling eight months that you could make no judgments about a man by his color, appearance or size. After all, none of the important qualities of an individual; character, intelligence, strength, determination, honesty, resourcefulness, courage, etc, are measured in feet and inches. Trees are measured in board/feet, not people. As a Teammate of mine who served 30 years in the SEALS once said, “Anything over 5’ 8” is unnecessary and just showing off”.

Note: I wrote this one a long time ago.

The Measure of a Man

The length of a man’s inseam will tell you nothing about his courage.
Nor, will it give you any indications about his strength, determination or stamina.
The inseam measurement will give few clues to a man’s intelligence, wit or reasoning power.
It won’t tell you much about his capacity for love and understanding.
Or, whether you can count on his friendship when you need it.
The length of a man’s inseam will not tell you whether he will give you his last dollar if you are desperate.
Or, steal yours when you least expect it.
The length of a man’s inseam won’t tell you much about a man---
Except that he is tall……. or not.


Merrie Cuylter said...

You had always told me, Dad, that being short meant you were faster around the corners. Then again, attitude is everything. Most people don't believe me when I tell them you're NOT six feet tall. :)
Love, K

Heide said...

Here's to those of us who require fewer natural resources to be clothed, etc. I've officially shrank from 5'4 1/2" to 5'3" in the past few years. Does this mean I'm becoming more green? My late God father (not Italian) was a Washington State Trooper following his years in Vietnam. He often joked about the 6 ft. requirement... after all, they aren't the Rock-ettes. Cheers!