Things Your SgtMaj Hates…

“That’s not my job!”

There are certain phrases in the English language guaranteed to illicit a volcanic reaction from me. It isn’t always the words themselves vice the mindset revealed by the person uttering them.

As a company 1stSgt in Bahrain I once overhead some of my SNCOs arguing in the front office. We had a new corporal flying in that evening and there was heated debate over who was going to pick him up at the airport.

At one point someone remarked with mistaken finality: “I’m not doing it. It’s not my job.”

Windows rattled throughout the building as I signaled I had heard enough nonsense and summoned every SNCO within the sound of my voice. Sailors in nearby offices cowered under their desks as I rage-counseled my misguided leaders.

I explained in no uncertain terms if they were wearing uniforms indicating their membership in the United States Marine Corps then it followed that any conceivable sort of concern associated with it was in fact their &*%$! business. This would include, oh I don’t know, taking care of Marines perhaps?

Furthermore, they would ALL be driving to the airport to ensure our new corporal made it through customs. Since the Marine was traveling by himself in the Middle East, I imagined it would be a nice for him to be greeted by Marine faces when he got off the plane. I also imagined a Marine Corps where troops were under the impression leaders were genuinely looking out for their welfare. I imagined it out loud, loud enough to penetrate the imaginations of everyone within sight and hearing.

Finally, I left no doubt in anyone’s military mind the words: “that’s not my job” were permanently banned from our lexicon. If I were ever to hear such profanity again the consequences would be grievous.

Enthusiasm is defined by Marines as the display of sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of duty. It’s one of those Marine Corps leadership traits you may have read about before. That night our new corporal was welcomed with plenty of it. Go figure.

Semper Fidelis!
America’s SgtMaj

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  1. I’m sure you’ve seen this before (or perhaps it is an apocryphal tale of your own career), nonetheless:

    A crusty old Marine Sergeant Major found himself at a gala event hosted by
    a local liberal arts college.

    There was no shortage of extremely young idealistic ladies in attendance,
    one of whom approached the Sergeant Major for conversation.

    “Excuse me, Sergeant Major, but you seem to be a very serious man. Is
    something bothering you?”

    “Negative, ma’am. Just serious by nature.”

    The young lady looked at his awards and decorations and said, “It looks
    like you have seen a lot of action.”

    “Yes, ma’am, a lot of action.”

    The young lady, tiring of trying to start up a conversation, said, “You
    know, you should lighten up. Relax and enjoy yourself.”

    The Sergeant Major just stared at her in his serious manner.

    Finally the young lady said, “You know, I hope you don’t take this the
    wrong way, but when is the last time you had s*x?”

    “1955, ma’am.”

    “Well, there you are. No wonder you’re so serious. You really need to chill
    out! I mean, no s*x since 1955! She took his hand and led him to a private
    room where she proceeded to “relax” him several times.

    Afterwards, panting for breath, she leaned against his bare chest and said,
    “Wow, you sure didn’t forget much since 1955.”

    The Sergeant Major said, after glancing at his watch, “I hope not; it’s
    only 2130 now.”

  2. As an NCO and a police Sgt, I told my troops up front that I would NEVER allow them to say that. Others I was not in charge of said that, but I could just give them the “look.”

    Full time National Guard folks often said that…and my response was “so you need the part timers to get your work done…?”

  3. 1. Wow!
    2. Brilliant post.
    3. Per first comment, that Is leadership and what being a Marine is all about.
    4. Get details like that right and your Marines will fight like…Marines.
    Good one.
    V/R JWest

  4. Suzanne, from time to time I show some potential in this regard. Thanks!

    Aus, an oldie but a goodie. My youthful looks prevent me from using this as a line though.

    CI Roller, on I&I duty I’ve made it perfectly clear all of us are here to support the Reservists. I’m infamous for having no regard for an MOS.

    JWest, despite my ignorance in nearly every other category, I’ve always managed to excel at doing things like a Marine. This has worked particularly well in my capacity as an instructor and mentor.

  5. My sister worked in a law office for many years and saw a lot of people come and go. The most memorable was the young woman who was hired as a secretary. Whenever one approached her with a request that she do anything other than type, she’d scowl and say “That’s not my job, man.”

    She lasted about a week, if I remember correctly. Of course, that was 25 years ago. Nowadays, it would take six months to establish a sufficient record to fire her without fear of a lawsuit.

    Anyway, I sent your post to my sister, and she had a good laugh.

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