Sometimes you have to Play Cards

By | September 10, 2020

[September 10, 2020]  Laid out before us was a bounty of food and drinks, all in honor of our visit to Honduras.  Our advanced party had been sent to determine the needs of our local military counterparts in their war against illegal (and very dangerous) drugs coming across their border from Nicaragua.  Our soldiers were going to eat, drink, and enjoy the feast – like it or not.

It was not unusual for our military units to be surprised by such an outpouring of hospitality.  Such generosity is typical in most countries we visit, especially in South America, the Middle & Near East, and parts of Africa.  We do the same for visiting military personnel from other countries.  The problem for most of us is that the food will play High School biology with our internal digestive systems, and we are the experimental frog.

We know in advance this will be the case, and anyone properly prepared will bring broadband antibiotics, diarrhea medicine, and nausea tablets.  Sometimes you have to play cards with those around you.  If I don’t like their food, these people should never know.  Surprisingly, the spiciest foods in my experience are from Korea.  The Middle East food occasionally has sufficient contamination to test any American’s stomach capability.

There is little need to discuss the results of the food from Honduras.  Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed their treat.  And I had no problem digesting it.  Our medical doctor in attendance (yes, we do bring them) said these foods have so little negative effect on me is “due to you eating everything all over the world.”  The rest of the advanced party was not so lucky.  For two days, I was the only one able to engage with our hosts.

Eating in “the field” brought another level of interest to the group with which I was traveling.  Our visit to the border between Honduras and Nicaragua was to see firsthand the widespread flow of illegal drugs over the border.  I was set up with one of their light Infantry Battalions that had been on duty there for nearly six months (the unit name and exact dates are classified).  Unit soldiers were experienced, motivated, and good at what they did.

The first night I was there, we participated in an unusual ceremony of eating live scorpions.  The trick is to tear off the stinger before ingesting the insect.  And I thought eating live octopus in South Korea was different.  I’ll eat anything, but uncooked bugs approach even my limit.  We did have fun and caught two Nicaragua soldiers smuggling drugs.  That made the trip all worthwhile.

There are times as a leader when participating in local traditions is necessary to be accepted.  We’ve all done it.  And we often have initial thoughts are that we will not like it.  Sometimes it can seem unusual, but sometimes you just have to play cards … like it or not.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

21 thoughts on “Sometimes you have to Play Cards

  1. Benny

    Sometimes you have to play cards … even when you don’t want to and “love it.” Great, Gen. Satterfield. I’ll remember this.

  2. Yusaf from Texas

    I didn’t realize that eating food in foreign countries could be so “upsetting” to the digestive system. Sanitation, local bacteria, spices, etc. … all come into play. I’m from Texas so I like steak but my friend Frank Smith likes fried fish best. we all have different tastes (some culturally influenced).

  3. Darryl Sitterly

    Thank you Gen. Satterfield for another article on what leaders do. They ‘do’ a lot and this idea of doing what they don’t want to do is a fact. Keep up your great articles every day. Now my sister reads your blog too. Please say hi to Jannette.

      1. Darryl Sitterly

        Thank you Gen. Satterfield! I never dreamed you would say “hi” to her. Now she is over the moon.

  4. Eddie Ray Anderson, Jr.

    Another excellent article by Gen. Satterfield. Remember, “sometimes you have to play cards.”

  5. Kenny Foster

    Folks, as usual, Gen. Satterfield has a story within a story. His trip to Honduras and being on the border with Nicaragua should tell us something. And that is there are troops from Honduras fighting a drug war in a live and die situation. For those in the US and Europe who say that illegal drugs are simply a victimless crime, I say baloney. Drugs like this kill and the killing starts down in South America. Users in the US are contributing to murder.

    1. JT Patterson

      Excellent point, Kenny. I say that anytime you see someone using an illegal drug (or even marijuana), call them out for it and make sure you tell them they are an accessory to murder.

    2. Dale Paul Fox

      But But But, the little baby-mind young folks who “use” drugs don’t give a hoot about it. Those killed are just collateral damage. What does Joe Biden and K Harris have to say about it? Let me see now …. wait for it …. they say NOTHING. Why? Because they support illegal drug use because it keeps those people down and dependent on the govt.

  6. Fred Weber

    When I was a team leader for production in a small business out of Montana (before I moved to Texas), I had to brief my boss everyday about anyone on my team that was falling behind in their quotas. I didn’t like it because it seemed like I was squealing on them. It was a requirement that only a few team leaders knew about. But I did it. My job, I said to myself, was to protect my team from the “upper echelon” and their tendency to fire people at the low end of production. Glad I left.

    1. Dennis Mathes

      Fred, good that you shared this with us. I’m sure anyone who has ever held a leadership position has to do things they don’t think is correct (I don’t mean illegal or immoral) but that is not necessarily in the best interests of the company they work for. Speak up, if so.

    2. Martin Shiell

      Yes, Fred, glad to hear you had such an experience. I have too on many occasions. Sometimes I’m wrong, however, and the boss knew better.

      1. Dead Pool Guy

        That is why that person is your “boss.” Doesn’t mean they know everything but they get to be the boss for some good reason (hopefully it’s a good reason).

  7. Army Captain

    Really interesting and a bit twisted article. I’m in full agreement that sometimes you have to do things as a leader you don’t want to do but must show you enjoy it. Obviously, I might add, that don’t do anything illegal, unethical, or unlawful.

    1. Doug Smith

      Good comment Army Captain and thanks. Yes, don’t do anything “wrong” when doing things you don’t want to do.

      1. Max Foster

        Key theme of Gen. Satterfield in his blog, IMO. Hey all, tomorrow is 9/11 and should be remembered. I’m looking forward to what Gen. S has to say in his blog. Let’s all “remember” the Islamic terrorists who destroyed so many lives. Did their terrorism pay off for Islam? Nope.

        1. Nick Lighthouse

          Well said, Max. I almost didn’t see your comment since I logged on a little later than I normally do but, as usual, you make a lot of sense.

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