The President sits at his desk in the oval office when the door pops open and a young man stands wide-eyed at seeing the President. “Oh, I’m sorry, Sir. I didn’t mean...”

“Come in,” says the President. He doesn’t look up from the cellphone where his fingers twitch out another tweet. “Have a seat.”

The young man slides onto the far end of the sofa. “I made a mistake.”

The President looks up. “Who are you?”

“I’m a Sub-Deputy Chief of Staff, Sir,” the man replies.

“Sub-Deputy Chief of Staff?” the President asks. “I didn’t know we had one.”

“It’s new, Sir. I’m new.”

“Oh,” the President replies. “So what does a Sub-Deputy Chief of Staff do?”

“I’m doing research for the White House message on climate change, Sir.”

“Climate change?” the President groans. “There is no climate change. The climate is the same as it’s always been. It’s winter now, so it’s cold. Spring will come, which will be cool. Then summer, when it’s hot. After that comes fall, which, again, is cool. Winter hasn’t become summer. Summer hasn’t become winter. Spring hasn’t become fall. Everything is where it has always been. There is no change. Do you know that?”

“Now I do, Sir,” replies the Sub-Deputy.

The President stares at his cell phone. “Vladimir again. He’s having a rough day. Wants to know when he can take the Ukraine. Patience, Vladimir. Patience. Congress isn’t ready for that yet.” The President looks up. “Russia is a great country. Do you know that?”

“No, Sir,” says the Sub-Deputy.

“Well, it is,” the President says. “Most people don’t know that.”

“I’m sure they don’t, Sir.”

The President glances at his cell phone. “They say they do, but they don’t. Did you know that?”

The Sub-Deputy replies, “No, Sir. Not until you told me.”

“Well, now you do,” says the President. “Know it, that is.”

“Yes, Sir.”

The President stares hard at the Sub-Deputy. “This ‘Sir?’ Why do you keep saying that?”

“Out of respect, Sir,” the Sub-Deputy replies.

“Respect,” the President says. “That’s good. That’s very good. I like that. But ‘Sir?’ I’m not sure I like that. Should I like that?”

The Sub-Deputy replies, “I don’t know, Sir.”

“I wonder what most people would say.”

“I don’t know, Sir.”

The President grows wistful. “I think most people would say they don’t like it. Sir. Sir. I assume you were military?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Sir again,” the President repeats.

The Sub-Deputy says, “You are my commander in chief. That’s military.”

“Yes,” replies the President. “But I’m not your sergeant, or your admiral, or your general.”

“No, Sir,” replies the Sub-Deputy

“Sir again. No, most people would say they don’t like the sound of that. I’m the President of the United States of America. Did you know that?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Most people know that,” says the President.

“Yes, Sir.”

The President frowns. “No, I don’t like ‘Sir.’ You know if we were in Russia, you would address me as ‘Your Excellency.’ Do you know that?”

“No, Sir.”

The President adds, “You would say, ‘No, Your Excellency.’ I like that. Most people would like that. Do you like it?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Then why can’t you say, ‘Yes, Your Excellency?’”

The Sub-Deputy replies, “I don’t know, Sir.”

“Look. Try ‘Your Excellency.’ Try it out. See if you like the way it sounds.”

“Yes, Sir,” replies the Sub-Deputy.

“No,” says the President, raising his voice. “Say, ‘Your Excellency.’”

“Your Excellency,” says the Sub-Deputy.

The President smiles. “Good. I like the sound of that. Most people would like the sound of that. Don’t you think most people would like the sound of that?”

“Yes, Sir,” replies the Sub-Deputy.

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