It used to be that the only people who really intimidated me were Special Forces personnel, mostly because they could kill me. I would cross the street to avoid one of them walking toward me, if ships had streets to cross. Since they didn’t, I would usually look down and avoid eye contact, hoping he didn’t jab a shiv into my side as he passed by.
Once I left active duty, I believed my worrying days were over. The SEALs I have met since then seem comfortable enough in their own skins. They are usually friendly and humble, relaxed in the knowledge that they can overcome just about any obstacle thrown in their paths. That and knowing how to incapacitate an enemy with laser-guided munitions.
A new group has emerged lately, however, to intimidate me: the Chief Warrant Officers.
The ones I know are all retired, but that doesn’t matter to them. Where Special Forces guys tend to repress their killer tendencies after hanging up their uniforms, the Warrant Officers don’t. It isn’t that they can’t. It is that they don’t want to.
Oh, they can mask the CWO blood running through their veins pretty well, for the most part, but when someone irritates them, or says something foolish, or makes a bad decision, the Warrant in them emerges like a phoenix out of the ashes.
There is a tacit understanding within the Warrant Officer community that commissioned officers are pansies. Or stupid. Or maybe spineless. I’m not sure, because when they come out in full bloom, I feel like all of those. I think it has to do with the fact that before they were officers, they were Chiefs.
I could get indignant, I suppose, but what REALLY bothers me is that they are usually right. Plus, they have turned out to be some of my best friends – when they are in their dormant stages anyhow.
When they are not, they are SEALs without the need for weapons. They can eviscerate a victim with a stare. They are the Chuck Norris of the khaki community. They know more cuss words than a prison softball team. In an argument, when the other side brings a knife, they bring bazookas.
And just about every conversation ends the same way: “Because I’m a Warrant Officer.”
I have to admit, it’s tough to argue with that.
[Note: Chief Warrant Officers are actually commissioned officers too, but you know what I mean.]