Are Officers Inherently Jerks?
A reader sends in the following:
I was an enlisted nuke MM and following my time in the canoe club, went to [respected university] for my BSME. I have completed all the course work for my Masters in Engineering and am just working on the research to complete it. So I have an education and am not stupid in any sense of the word.I've known quite a few officers who seemed to believe that they were inherently "better" than enlisted people; my stateroommate on the carrier on which I was stationed used to thrust his collar device out of mess attendants he thought weren't being sufficiently deferential. I didn't think it was something he'd been taught in an organized way; I figured he was just probably a jerk. Still, I've heard from many people who believe that that probably apocryphal quote about enlisted Sailors being "cunning and devious", allegedly contained in some early 20th century officer handbook, is still being actively taught by commissioning sources. Now, I only went through OCS, but I paid attention in class, and I'm almost positive they didn't teach us that there.
Is there something in ROTC and/or the Academy that they teach officers about in treating enlisted sailors with disdain? I don’t get it. I happened to meet a gentleman at work the other day that was an officer on the Dallas (I was on the Philly). He was engaging and the minute I mentioned that I was an enlisted nuke, the whole conversation turned. Well actually it just ended – abruptly. Since then I have seen him and he has never said a word to me even in a professional sense. I am in a training class currently (two days) and he is sitting right behind me – not a word or even any acknowledgement of my existence.
This isn’t the first time I have run across this behavior, and actually find it quite common.