The Major

In one of my early jobs in the IT sector, one of my responsibilities was to make sure that no one installed unauthorized software on the office computers. This was back in the Windows 3.1 days, and nothing prevented users from installing whatever the heck they wanted. I had to run a weekly scan to determine if anything unauthorized was installed and remove anything that wasn’t legit. Most users took it in stride once I explained why it was a violation of policy.

Most users, but not Major Rick Dugan.*

Dugan was one of those guys who retires from the military but never gets over it. He insisted that we address him by his old rank. He ordered everyone around, regardless of their position in the organization, as if we were his private army. I think he secretly wished we would salute him.

One day, I discovered that Dugan had installed his personal copy of a CAD application. I explained the policy and told him I’d have to uninstall it.

He yelled, he blustered, he threatened. No “snot-nosed kid” (I was in my late 20s) was going to tell him what he could or could not do.

I remained steadfast. Tried to explain again how and why it was against the rules to install personal software on our machines. Not only was it a policy violation, it was also a violation of the license agreement, and therefore illegal.

That only made things worse. How dare I impugn his integrity? Didn’t I know he had been a Major in the US Army?

As if anyone could have failed to know.

As if the mere fact of his having been an officer precluded him doing anything wrong.

Dugan eventually got his way. He complained to my boss, was told no, then went to my boss’s boss. Eventually, I got email from someone far up the food chain telling me to allow the Major to install whatever he wanted. I quit soon afterward.

I hadn’t thought of him in years, until earlier this month, when White House Press Secretary Sanders said that it was “highly inappropriate” to argue with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly because he was a General. Like Dugan, Kelly is retired from the military, but even if he were active duty, the idea that military officers are beyond question is appalling.


* Not his real name or rank.