Friday, August 22, 2008

The Hills...v. 2.0 (ie. if the Hills and I intersected)

A few months ago, I went to Baltimore for a TDY. I was accompanied there by a few NCO's in my company (enlisted higher ranking types for those of you not in the military) and the other Lieutenants in my company. It was an odd time because one of the NCO's, who I did not know very well, felt very free in expressing her opinions, particularly about me; how I walked, talked, ate--it was all fair game. Of particular interest was when she said (unprompted actually) the following things:
  1. Sir, I didn't know you were funny.
  2. I thought you came from money.
  3. Well, you are pretty arrogant.

Thing is, these all came from a person who knew me only through occasional meetings at work. So, it made me begin to am I perceived by those who don't know me, and, more importantly, by those who do know me?

Anyway, I've been wondering about that for a while.

Onto other things which will only relate when I tie them together at the end. I like to drink. Beer is delicious. So, when offered free beer, I drink it. Some people (I am not one of them) think it is inappropriate to drink in a work setting, even when the "work setting" is mandatory fun at a bar. I, thank God, am not one of those people. Here is my theory: If I drink with friends, and I drink with family, there is no reason not to drink when offered liquor at work just because I don't want the very people who offered it to me to think poorly of me for accepting. This attitude, however, is not one shared by my other Lieutenants who, while they drink just as much as I do while at home, refuse to let people at work see them drink.

I kind of consider it a sham--if I do it in the privacy of my home, why would I hide it in public? If it's something I shouldn't do, then I shouldn't do it at home or in public, and, the reverse, if I do it at home, why hide it in public? This leads us to tonight.

There is one Lieutenant in particular in my company who is similar to me in a lot of superficial ways (and by "a lot" I mean, we both graduated West Point and got to the company at the same time). He falls into the category of people who drink in private, but not in public. Moreover, he makes it a point to make me seem like a jackass for drinking at work functions.

Tonight, we had a work function. I had three beers (give or was really two, but they were very large mugs). This was sometime around four PM. The Sergeant from part one of this post again decided to share random thoughts and told me that, while he was the "smart Lieutenant" and our friend was the "professional one" I was the "funny one".

Anyone who knows me knows that I pride myself on my intelligence. I'm not, by any means, the smartest of my friends and, in fact, consider myself toward the bottom of that list (I've never won an award, been published or otherwise done anything to distinguish myself academically, so there's that to consider). But, I do consider myself smart nonetheless.

The non-drinking Lieutenant pointed out that this bothered me, which it did, and laughed.

Some four hours later, the following text message arrived as I was watching the Olympics:

LT 1: you do realize youre [sic] a complete ass when you drink, right?

I didn't really know what to say as I hadn't had a drink is four hours, so I replied:

Me: That came out of nowhere.

LT 1: nah man. it was very clear tonight and has been in the past

Me: Then I'll assume you're drunk now because it's the only time you're this big a dick.

LT 1: nope im actually good just gettin tired of how arrogant you are

Me: At least this time you wrote it so you can't deny it like last time you were "good" and being a dick

LT 1: Nah last time ill admit was tired and drunk but now im sober and after this evening i've had time to think and i know im just tired of your arrogance.

Me: Texting is a good way to address that...assuming no one could run over a crayola note for you. Good night.

LT 1: just thought id let you know sooner than later

Now, I probably don't need to point out that the conversation went from 1. me being an ass when I'm drunk to me being arrogant in general in one large jump but 2. wtf? Who sends text messages like that? Definitely not Lieutenants in the Army, at least, I'd like to have thought that we, being college graduates, in charge of soldiers, grown adults and the like, would have come up with better ways to address our issues, but apparently not. Then again, maybe that assumption makes me arrogant. I'm not sure yet. While I haven't had a drink beyond the two mugs I had several hours ago, maybe I should have some know...just to see how big an ass I can become?

On a semi-related note, the following is a list of perceptions of myself soldiers have shared with me, which I find interesting:

  1. arrogant
  2. funny
  3. hippie
  4. angry at the world
  5. always in a good mood

Go figure. GK Chesterson once wrote about the Catholic Church that, if people say that it is both too harsh and too comforting, maybe it has struck the right balance (that is obviously a paraphrase). Considering that, and looking at the perceptions I have been told (which are, I am sure, only a sampling), then I think I'll be OK.


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