A good chewing out has two ingrediants – doing something wrong, and getting caught. A really good chewing out includes one more element – the mistaken belief that you’re actually going to get away with it. It is exponentially more painful to briefly taste the sweet exhiliaration of a successful caper, only to have it all come crashing down around you. The higher the mountain, the longer the fall.
Like many of those in uniform, my really good chewing out was borne out of a liberty incident. Our long school had ended, and we were supposed to check in – every day at 10AM – for our new orders.
Well, Thanskgiving was coming up, and the last thing I wanted was to get saddled with orders that might jeopardize going home for the holiday. So the day before (Wednesday) I checked in “a little early”, then promptly declared myself on holiday liberty.
The drive to my parents’ house was glorious – I was tasting the rarified air of forbidden freedom. I had figured out, and beaten, the system. No one would know I was gone, and to quell the faint feelings of guilt, I convinced myself that I had satisfied the letter (if not the spirit) of the law. I had checked, and the orders weren’t in.
The first order of business when I got home was to take a nap. But just as I had snuggled into my old bed and nodded off to sleep, I was awakened by my mom who said I had a phone call. “Do you know somebody named … X.O.?”
My blood ran cold. “Hello?” Immediately a voice from Hades itself exploded in my ears. Icy fingers tried to reach through the phone line and rip out my heart. “Where the HECK are you?” (Apparently, my orders had come in at about 10AM, just about the time I was pulling into my parents’ driveway.) After I stammered out a lame story, he told me to meet him “First Thing” on Monday.
The Thanksgiving dinner felt more like a condemned man’s last meal.
On Monday morning I was ushered into the X.O.’s office, which to me resembled the great hall of Oz. I (once again) struggled through my well-rehearsed explanation: “I checked, X.O., and the orders weren’t in…”
He didn’t look up until I was finished. Then, like a scene straight out of Dragon Slayer, fire shot from his mouth. His words are still seared into my soul. He proceeded to rip the flesh off my bones until – literally – my knees began to tremble. I was starting to get concerned about blacking out. Just before I broke down and started bawling like a baby, he dismissed me. Judging by the horrified looks from the other students standing outside, his voice was loud enough to be heard through three sets of doors.
Was it a painful experience? You bet. Was it effective? Hard to say. But I can tell you this – it was the worst chewing out I ever experienced, and like a bad dream it was always in the back of my mind when future indiscretions tempted me.
Share your worst chewing outs with the rest of us!