Think Before You Speak Military Style
by Andrea Scott
What is all this crap about thinking before you speak? Getting a foot in your mouth, whether it is your own or someone else’s, is never fun. In the military a foot in the mouth is a whole other beast. Remember the article I wrote about military ranks? Yeah, this is right up the same alley.
My husband and I went to dinner with his whole “office”. By office, I mean every officer he works with and their spouses, including the big wigs and their wives. Anyway, so we are at dinner, and the big wigs wife asks if anyone wants to share a bottle of wine, Chardonnay. I don’t know about you, but I’m a traditionalist in that I like white wine with my fish and poultry and red wine with beef. Anyway, that night I was eating prime rib, so I didn’t pipe up. I guess she had no takers, so she yelled across the table, which is rude in itself, and asked me if I wanted to share the bottle. My answer? “No thanks, I’m eating beef.” Everyone was staring at me except for my husband, who at the time happened to drop something under the table. Wimp. The table was silent for just long enough for me to feel like a jackass and then conversation commenced. At the end of dinner, we were all gathered around the bar when four people came up to me and told me I had balls. Balls? Why is it when a woman says something “strong” she has balls? Why isn’t there a saying like, “She has tits of steal”? Wait a minute, I see why: that’s gross. Okay, so balls it is. I had balls, because I was talking to the big wigs wife, but what if I was talking to a wife who was the same rank as my husband? Would it have been different? Maybe?
I’m all for thinking before you speak. Wait, I’m lying because I never think before I speak, but if I had, the correct answer would have been, “No thanks”. Why didn’t I just say that? Because I’m an idiot and I’ve never before existed in a class system where I couldn’t say what I really wanted to say. As a military brat, everyone thought I was just that, a brat. Now that I’m a “wife” I can’t be brat, which sucks because I love the brat side of me. Military wives or not, there is always a time when you stick your foot in it. If I lived in any past time, I would have been burned at the stake.
What’s great is that my boss is the kind of no bullshit woman whom you can be blatantly honest with. She’s wonderful. Sometimes when my colleagues say that they are scared of her I often wonder why. I guess the way I see it, she’s human, and so are you. Why does it matter what station in life you are? There is a difference between respecting people and then respecting yourself. If I knew someone didn’t like something, and this would be because they told me, I wouldn’t do it. There is a fine line between respecting a person’s position and then treating them like a god. No one is better than you, regardless of what they think. We don’t live in the Renaissance era where who your parents decided to have sex with determined your station in life. India Arie, my current “girl power” artist favorite, has this great song where she says, “A woman ain’t what she wears, but what she knows”. All slang aside (“ain’t” is actually a word in the dictionary now), respect should come from within. Respect yourself and others will respect you. And if they don’t, you could always flock them.
Being a young scumbag and a military brat, I never bought into the whole class system... Oh, wait, I'm still don't... That's one of the things that always bugged me about military life, you had to be nice to "superior officers", not because they were superior, but simply because they outranked you...
There's a line from an old Michael Caine movie that I always use in situations like that. Michael Caine's character has killed his supervisor at work and is being interviewed by the police as a suspect. The cop asks him, "So, he was your superior ?" And Michael Caine replies, "No, he was my boss."
Posted by: thefinn | November 15, 2006 6:13 AM
There's a world of difference between officer and enlisted situations like this. At least for enlisted folks in the E-7 and below realm.
Everyone is far more cordial, and there's none of this societal classism. Once an enlisted person makes first sergeant, that all changes because they start having to attend those same kind of dinners and crap the officers do.
To bastardize an old saying, if you marry a military officer, you don't just get a husband, you join military as well.
One of the reasons I never pursued becoming an officer is that you have very little say over your time. Bad enough as enlisted to do all of the things that your job and training asks of you, but then to have all of those social commitments on top of that? No thank you.
I'm glad your husband can do it. But remember, there's a reason those old senior chiefs smile slyly at young officers.
Posted by: Cullen | November 15, 2006 6:25 AM
LOL My husband may have to leave me at home for those functions. But maybe that's why my husband married me? He takes orders well? What do you think? LOL Adam I'm just kidding!
Posted by: Andrea | November 15, 2006 6:42 AM
For those of you who don't know what flocking is. (Thanks Shawna) Flocking is taking a bunch of plastic pink flamingos and decorating someones front lawn for the full on trailer trash look.
Posted by: Andrea | November 15, 2006 11:34 AM
hahaha! This is sooooo Andrea!
Posted by: shawna | November 15, 2006 11:37 AM