In the Army — and most probably in every other branch of the military — there is somewhat of a tradition of Miscreant E4s. The paygrade of E4 is the first rank that involves any sort of official leadership, and — as such — is expected to make frequent faux pas. An E4 with a good head upon his (or her) shoulders, dedication to the mission and … flexible … scruples can often be the difference between a successful ARTEP, and a “No-Go”.
As a “fer instance”, let us suppose that you are somewhere, knee-deep in snow, watching herds of brass monkeys headed South. The never-sufficiently-be-damned cab heaters on the unit’s M3 Bradleys have gone Paws Up — again. Your miscreant E4s will show up just before chow, having “repurposed” a “stray” trailer for some extra cab heaters.
Later on during the same exercise when you suddenly need that “stray” trailer, it will appear — as long as you don’t touch the bumper number. Fresh paint smears something awful.
If your E4s don’t have the lion’s share of the pogey-bait, the really good FMs, and the superfluous equipment that just tends to make things easier (“A shower? How in the hell did you manage to bring a pressurised shower out into the middle of BFE?!”), they know where to get their paws on it. That, along with a certain willingness to trade, bribe, beg, borrow or
steal repurpose as required to Accomplish The Mission, tends to make the task of the military commander somewhat easier less aneurysm-inducing. Vishnu bless ’em.
However, E4s without a mission to focus their little nefarious minds upon are often the source of the stories that begin: “This ain’t no [deleted] I took my eyes off the little [deleted]s for ten minutes and the [Insert Descriptive Military Noun Here] exploded/ burst into flame/ sank/ floated/ wound up on eBay/ got pregnant/ moved, when movement was physically impossible/ broke the sound barrier, when not physically possible/ divided by zero/ wound up on top of the base watertower/ etc.,” are typical.
Several miles of Interstate Highway shut down due to Tobasco-augmented smoke generators? E4s.
Nightly News video shot of hanging hams in the windows of the C-130 doing a flyby at the local airshow? E4s.
Base Commander’s beloved prize-winning pecan orchard mysteriously converted into high-velocity matchsticks by precise application of low-yield explosives? Bored E4s.
When I was promoted to my current position, it required thirty minutes of arguing on the part of the Chief Deputy before I finally accepted the promotion — and that was with the caveat that the Sheriff and the Chief Deputy understand that I am absolutely and totally addlepated when it comes to the day-to-day administrative paperwork. “Nae problem!” sayeth them, and Thing1 was detached to be my ADC.
Well, year later and I’ve gone from reporting to the head of a Bureau of the Sheriff’s Office, to reporting directly to the Sheriff. As such, my duties have expanded considerably and I have developed another ADC: Thing2.
Both Thing1 and Thing2 are sergeants with eight years+ experience in the Sheriff’s Office, they are both — literally — young enough to be my children, and they are both female.
I have learned several things over the last year. The first of which is that I have no idea how the fathers of daughters survive, much less maintain their sanity. Seriously. Multiple conversations in the office between those two have ended with me yelping, “I’m sitting right here, and there are things that I do not need to know about!”
Secondly, when it comes to flexible scruples and ruthless pragmatism … all those E4s I’ve known — and I’ve known a lot — all those male miscreant E4s don’t hold a candle to my two female miscreant sergeants.
For example: I’m sitting at my desk, when Thing1 and Thing2 stagger through the doorway, carrying a cube-ish, OD green wossname.
Me: “What is that?”
Thing1: “It’s a wossname!”
Me: “It looks like a fridge. With Air Force markings.”
Me: “You’ve been in the DD-1033 room, haven’t you?”
Thing1: “Isn’t the DD-1033 room locked?”
Thing2: “Then it couldn’t have been the DD-1033 room. Place we found this wasn’t locked.”
Me: *migraine salute*
Sheriff: *wandering through with a cup of coffee* “Huh. Nice fridge. Probably fit better over by the filing cabinets.”
Both Things: “Thank you, sir!”
And I’m not known as the greatest respecter of rank around, but really …
I’m wandering through the office when I hear the walrus snorting of Senior Officer Who Shall Remain Nameless in his patented Condescending Neadertal persona, together with a voice I recognize as Thing2. This immediately causes me to buttonhook the corner in full fire-breathing mode only to find Thing2 apparently hanging on every word coming out of the pie-hole of SOWSRN.
SOWSRN: “Condescend. Condescend, condescend, condescendingly.”
I swear I’ve seen smaller eyes in anime.
Behind SOWSRN, I see Thing1 steer a two-wheeled dolly into the open door of the office occupied — coincidentally — by SOWSRN.
Thing2: “I would never have though of that!”
SOWSRN: “Condescending, condescend, condescended.”
Thing1 reappears in the office doorway. Strapped to the dolly is one very large, very expensive (and thus very scarce), very tightly controlled widget. Thing1, dolly and widget disappear down the hallway.
Thing2: “It’s been so very interesting talking to you! We mustn’t keep you! Bye!”
SOWSRN turns and ambles back to his office, whuffing contentedly. At the door he turns. I’m totally at a loss. I think I may be covering my mouth with a hand. I’ve never done that before.
Thing2 (sotto voce while giving a small wave): “Smile and wave, boss. Smile and wave.”
I swear by Freyja: Those two are going to be the death of me.