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Just another closet story

Recently, a U. S. Army First Sergeant (E-8 [one grade below a Sergeant Major, a Command Sergeant Major or Sergeant Major of the Army, all E-9’s, and the highest enlisted ranks in our military]) asked a flight attendant if his jacket could be placed in a closet and the First Sergeant was told that the closet was for First-Class passengers only. No big deal the First Sergeant must have thought and he took his seat in coach, end of story. Not so!

As of 9/11, airlines and other industries have made simple accommodations for the men and women of our military. Good. However, as I mentioned in the book and in public and private conversations, those simple accommodations are no more than pretentious and are not with the military in mind but with marketing in mind. Despite my disagreement with those tactics I cannot say their campaigns are wrong as every industry has customers they exploit, in healthcare it is the patient. For example, businesses do not open another checkout lane because of customer satisfaction, although that is what they claim; they open another lane to keep customers from leaving without a purchase.
Nonetheless, to each is own and to each is what businesses they want to support. Having said that, I mentioned in the book and have mentioned a number of times in private and public conversations, and I am not alone, that the military is not special nor do those in the military, past or present, see themselves as special either. However, if special treatment is going to be given I would offer it to those who made, or make, it safer for us to sleep at night over those who shied away from serving their country. Not that shying away is wrong but when all else is equal I would chose those who served first.

Above I purposely mentioned, “made it safe” (veterans) over “make it safe” (active-duty) and here is why, if those industries, which claim they support the military, were genuine they would care for veterans first. Again, not that either, veterans or active-duty, deserve special treatment but if special treatment is offered, should it not go to those who would benefit or need it most? For example, does an active-duty Marine really need to board an aircraft first? Not to mention that perk only when in uniform, an optic, but that is another issue.
Instead, wouldn’t a veteran benefit more from boarding first? Think about it, in terms of boarding a plane first and the convenience of finding where to place a carry-on bag, wouldn’t that physically demanding task be easier performed by an active-duty Sailor over a veteran? Having said that, I know that when an active-duty member of our armed forces is given a choice they would rather give that perk to those who served before us. Why? Simple! Although not obvious to those who never served to those who have that camaraderie and thankfulness for those who came before us is in our DNA.
One more thing, before I move the above-mentioned story of the First Sergeant along. If those industries, not only the airlines industry but all who patronize our military in their marketing campaigns, were genuine they would include veterans. Veterans are 10% of our nation’s population and 2/3’s of our nation’s homeless. But, as so many have chosen, that is a story for another day.

Anyhow, all that to get here, from what I have read, as I was not aboard the flight, it was not the First Sergeant who made a big deal of the above-mentioned story. Sadly, despite reporters pushing for the story admitting that attempts to reach the First Sergeant were futile, they insisted.

Why? Because that is what the media does best, invade the privacy of others for the sake of selling a story, even when there isn’t a story, but that too a story for another day. Nonetheless, the media chased the First Sergeant to his home where family told reporter that the story was not the First Sergeant’s, imagine that, and that the First Sergeant would rather not comment. Done!
Nope! Of course not!
Again, I was not on the flight that all this took place but from the reports, and mind you they were many as the media tried to make this into “Breaking News” despite the First Sergeant opting out of the drama. Sadly, drama fanned by others is never far. Imagine that too, nothing like getting into other people’s business.
For those not familiar with what a U. S. Army First Sergeant is allow me to share my appreciation for such revered rank in our military. First and foremost, the rank of First Sergeant is earned and not automatic. On top of that and most significant to this story, First Sergeants are the highest enlisted person of a company and are tasked with handling the leadership and development of “their” soldiers and noncommissioned officers, manage pay and supervise other administrative issues, to include promotions and the first step in disciplinary action within “their” company. Meaning, First Sergeants are leaders of soldiers and are trusted with mission accomplishment and the welfare of soldiers.
In civilian terms, First Sergeants are the “TOP” enlisted person of a company and the “TOP” enlisted leader who has direct supervision of enlisted personnel. First Sergeants are the “TOP” dog, aside the company’s commander, and why First Sergeants are unofficially addressed as “TOP”.
On that note, the main character of this story, or lack there of, is a U. S. Army First Sergeant. And in my 10+ years in the military I NEVER knew, or met, a First Sergeant who could not stick up for themself, EVER, and much less who did not possess command of any situation. Having said that, despite being out for almost 15 year now, I find it hard to believe the First Sergeant in this story would be the first who could not take care of himself and would need the public to intervene.
With the First Sergeant rank described above and others stating that the above-mentioned story or non-story is not about the First Sergeant or military perks, I want to add my two sense [sic].
Following the drama and the subsequent discontent that comes with it, the fight attendant, the airline’s employee, was thrown under the bus. Not that there was mention that the flight attendant was disciplined or dismissed, however, not far fetched because what was mentioned was that the flight attendant might have mishandled the incident. Really? Mishandled? How? Oh! She said, “No.”
I would think that the policy of coach passengers placing their belongings in first-class is YES or NO. It really is that simple. Oh! Wait! Faultfinders want to add that there should be an exception. Why? Because in this situation, after the fact of course, it was good optics. NO! Either YES or NO! Catering to exaggerated unrealistic emotional expectations should not be an option.
Here is why:
-What about the coat of the First Sergeant in civilian attire sitting in coach? Can that coat be hung in first-class too? Why not? Oh, because he is not wearing an active duty uniform. And that takes away from being a First Sergeant how?
-Oh. Okay. What if the First Sergeant in civilian attire sitting in coach was totting Dress Blues? Could those be hung in first-class?
-What if the First Sergeant was in Battle-Dress-Uniform and totting Dress Blues? Could those be hung in first-class?
-What if it wasn’t a First Sergeant but a Private (NO RANK on the sleeves)? Could those Dress Blues be hung in first-class?
-What if it had been a Private who asked? Would there EVEN been a story?
-What if it was Master Sergeant (E-8) Jose Rodela (Retired) who asked for his civilian coat to be hung in First-Class despite the Sergeant sitting in coach? Why? Well, it just happens Master Sergeant Rodela’s civilian coat displays the Metal of Honor pin on its lapel, not that many would recognize the lapel. But if anyone deserves perks it would be someone who not only served his country but who went above and beyond the call of duty for those he served with despite that is not something he brags about.

I know lots of “what ifs”! However, it is those “what ifs” as to why a YES or NO policy only and NOT one for expectations, entitlements or so-called VIP.
Again, this was not the First Sergeant’s story but the story of others. Yet, it shows the collateral damage of what happens when others make drama when there is none and my interest in the story.
So once more, it’s not the customer experience context that matters, not to mention those stories are, as many have said, repetitive and redundant [sic]. Yet, here is another one. Why? In this case, it sells newspapers and gets others to click on their sites and no one notices the collateral damage left behind.
SO(!), why this story?
Because, when the First Sergeant deflected this non-story others jumped at an opportunity to discredit him. Sound familiar?
Again, the above-mentioned story is not about customer experience at all but whether or not First Sergeant Marle was legit. It is unfortunate the number of military frauds out there and why those who stand out, whether because of them or others, their credentials get questioned as actors of stolen valor. Do not get me wrong; if acts of valor are stolen those individuals deserve public humiliation. However, in this case, First Sergeant Marle is legit. Yet, how does he recover from all this drama without being labeled?
Unfortunately, it is a sad moment that because one who does not fit into the commonly molded ideological box and throw a tantrum when told, “No,” that others will question that person for not jumping on victimization band wagon. Can you believe it? Not to leave out the flight attendant, who simply said, “No.”
All of that to point out that the same happens in healthcare. First, others not involved fan the drama. Second, those who do not surrender to catering will be labeled as rude, uncaring and lacking compassion and even ostracized until that person submits or is banished. Third, and most damaging, there is no recovery despite being legit.

Again, my two sense [sic]. 

A disclaimer, as critics like to read between the lines. When I travel I sometimes go First-Class and sometimes Coach. But regardless of where I sit I am the same individual, nothing special about me. And when I travel alone, regardless of row or seat, I make it a point to board last, behavior of my antisocial character and my attempt to avoid others, but that too another story.

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