Thursday, May 5, 2016

First Names with Everybody! Civilian Life Has No Rank

The Hierarchy of the Ancient Greek Army
Not much different in Modern Armies

The next time I see General Perry, he will be Scott.  I just sent a message to my company commander in Iraq and called him Bryson.  My former Brigade Commander and Command Sergeant Major are now Dennis and Dell.  

For one thing, I am older than all these men and women.  For another, I am really a civilian.  

Someone asked me yesterday if I could get called back to service.  At my age, and since I am not collecting a retirement, the nation would have to recall every reservist, every retiree, and re-institute the draft before I could be called back.  I am as thoroughly civilian as I could be.  So all of the men and women I served with are Andrea, Chris and Bob.  They just lost that other first name: Captain, Major or Sergeant.

In 1980, when I left the Army and got a civilian job, the transition from business hierarchy to flat organizations was already in full swing.  When I was a high school kid, the boss of the warehouse where I swept floors was Mr. Rodman.

My first job after the Army was with the Elizabethtown Chronicle.  The editor was Julian, not Mr. Richter.  One the dock at Yellow Freight, we were on a first-name basis with all the supervisors. At Godfrey Advertising the owner was Denny.  I worked for a global chemical company in the late 90s. The CEO of this billion-dollar company with operations on five continents was "Bob."

When I re-enlisted in 2007, I had no trouble reverting Sergeant and Caption and Sir instead of first names.

But now the switch in the other direction will be fun.  Even the generals I know are younger than me, so they are now Walt, Scott, John, etc.