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Power, and all the perks that goes with it, comes and goes. I am reminded of this in a humorous way in the autobiography of Colin Powell who related an incident that takes place the day after he retires from active duty as Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

‘I woke up the next morning without the benefit of an alarm clock for the first time in memory,’ writes Powell. ‘I got dressed in slacks, a polo shirt, and a pair of loafers, ambled down to the kitchen of the home we had bought in the Washington suburbs, and joined Alma for breakfast. I was embarking on a full-time job I had been moonlighting at for years, husband.’

Alma looked up from her coffee. ‘The sink’s stopped up,’ she said. ‘It’s leaking all over the floor.’

No problem, I thought. I’ll call the post engineer. Then I remembered. What post engineer? I spent my first civilian morning crouched under a dripping sink. The Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs had become Harry Homeowner.’ Then he said this, ‘When I stepped from four stars to civilian, overnight my personal staff of ninety disappeared.’

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