Monday, November 06, 2006

Hypothetically Speaking

The Devil Wears Combat Boots

Let us say, hypothetically speaking, there is this female officer in my chain of command who is, er, well….., a battle axe. Hypothetically speaking, of course. Let us further suppose that said battle axe is in a position of authority and very much enjoys cracking the whip and spewing forth hate and discontent at people who get in her way. Since we’re only speaking of an imaginary person, I’ll continue.

This woman is hell on wheels on some days, and really fun to be around on others. The problem is she can go from zero to a screaming, irrational nag in under 10 seconds, without warning. From her perspective there is nothing wrong with her behavior. From everyone else’s perspective, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Lot’sa luck! That’s the problem with crazy people; they don’t think they're crazy.

Working with her, remember… this is a fictitious person, is a mental and emotional drain. To frustrate matters more, the woman is absolutely a subject matter expert on many issues and lots of people would like to use her as a resource but they would rather go around her, do extra work, dig into the archives, work with less competent people, work longer hours, than ask her for help. Nine times out of 10, you’re asking a dumb question from her perspective. It’s just not worth the verbal beratement you’d have to endure as a consequence of asking for help. So most don’t.

I have worked with women like her before in my military career. Female officers are in the minority in the Army and the DoD as a whole. In years past, if a female officer wanted to not only advance, but simply survive, she had to be very thick skinned and willing to put up with a certain amount of abuse in order to succeed. Some women even took it a step further and “slept” their way up the ladder. Others resorted to being abrasive and rude in order to project a certain toughness, an “I can hang… bring it on” sort of image. Throughout their careers, many become mean, crotchety, backbreaking shrews or performed gratuitous acts to advance.

Now, by no means is every woman in the military a nasty old hag, and there are only a small minority that have performed certain favors for special consideration. But I know there are a few. The crotchety ones are out there. You’ll know them when you see them. And the rumors of the latter are simply too pervasive not to be true.

Given that there has been a lot of social and institutional change in the military, women no longer have to resort to such extreme measures to advance. Thank goodness. In fact, recruitment numbers are so low, the slogan is no longer, “Be All You Can Be.” It’s more like, “We’ll Take Whatever You’ve Got.” Okay… that’s a joke. Things aren’t quite that bad. Are they?

I have always felt that a person should advance in an organization based on their professional performance and competence. I have no doubt my fictitious person is very well qualified, in fact she is one of the most intelligent and adept officers I have ever known. But professionally speaking, she is an uncivilized ogress. She has no sense of tact or even the slightest idea what the word means.

I have often wished that someone would put this woman in her place, but then that would deprive me of the pleasure of doing it myself. Regardless, I wouldn’t stoop to such levels because I’m a professional and I refuse to debase myself just to prove a point. However, that has not stopped me from dreaming of choking the ever-livin’ crap out of her tactless behind.

Would I want her on my team? Sure, as long as I could lock her in a room and minimize her contact with subordinate officers, other units, our higher headquarters…. Okay, I’d not allow her to speak to anyone…I might even tape her mouth shut… but she could be on the team. Sort of like Hal from “2001: A Space Odyssey.” We’d ask her questions and she’d spit out answers. But much like when Hal flipped his lid, we’d pull the plug on “Old Batty” at the first sign of synaptic dysfunction.

Would I want her as a friend? Nope. Well, maybe. It’s hard to say because the ground is just too darn shaky. Hypothetically speaking.


grayday101 said...

Is this hypothetical person of, um, "a certain age?"
Sounds like me during menopause. There are meds for that.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there are many others of us who feel the same way, hypothetically speaking.

Anonymous said...

Hypothetically, this wouldn't be anyone I know, would it? Wish I was there, hypothetically speaking, to give you a hand with the "ol battle ax." Your buddy & ex-XO, MML

Anonymous said...

Very brave of you to say.

Anonymous said...

God bless you Jack, nad Merry Christmas.

Maggie45 said...

Hope all is well with you. Just want to wish you a Merry Christmas, and thank you for doing what you do to keep your fellow citizens safe. God bless you and keep YOU safe.

December 25, 2006