Don’t Bank On The Rank

, , , , | Working | December 7, 2018

Back in the early 2000s I was in the Territorial Army, the UK equivalent of the National Guard. I served for around five years or so before being honourably discharged. One Christmas I put my name down to work as staff for the officers’ and NCOs’ annual dinner.

During the dinner, I ended up working behind the bar in the officers’ mess. One of our “clients” for the evening was a young officer I knew well enough to consider a personal friend. He had just been promoted from Lieutenant to Captain, and so was spending his evening buying drinks for his fellow officers, and having drinks bought for him.

At one point during the evening, this officer staggered up to the bar. I could see that he was very drunk. “Hi, [My Name]!” he slurred, smiling at me. He ordered another drink for himself. “Are you sure that’s wise, sir?” I asked. My officer friend smiled and said it would be fine. I gave him his drink.

A few minutes later, the duty sergeant, who was behind the bar with me, took me aside for a “chat.” He told me that I must never question an officer, that I should have just given him his drink without question. “But sergeant, he can hardly stand!” I protested. The sergeant nodded sadly. “I can see that,” he said. “But you’re a private, and he’s a newly-promoted captain.” I sighed, shrugged and said, “Okay, sergeant.”

The next morning I learnt what had happened to my officer friend. He was leaving the officers’ mess, tripped, fell down a flight of stairs, and ended up in hospital with a fractured skull.

I learnt two things that night: 1. Just because someone wears a rank it doesn’t mean they always behave responsibly or are always right. 2. Rules are often necessary to create order, but sometimes, rules are complete bulls***.

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