Getting chewed out may not be that bad

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- In my four years of being an Airman in the Air Force, I've seen many persons on the receiving end of a good chewing out, myself being that individual on more than one occasion. 

Although some of these of these verbal assaults have little long-lasting effects, the ones that stick with me generally are when I recognize the error of my ways and know I will never do something like that again. 

For instance, one time I was working hard (or hardly working) during an air show. We were rotating  lunch shifts so everyone could take a break and have an enjoyable lunch. 

I was no exception. 

I sat down with my barbecue chicken and was told, "Once you finish your lunch, we need you to cover this other position so this person can come and eat." 

I replied, "Yes sir." 

No problem, right? Wrong. 

Let's back up a minute. I was 21 at the time, and I had a healthy appetite coupled with a high metabolism - meaning I could scarf down some food. So once I finished what I was eating, instead of relieving my counterpart as I said I would, I went back for a bratwurst, and it was delicious. 

Now, just getting the bratwurst wasn't the problem; it was the waiting in line for 20-plus minutes. 

The fact that even though I knew my "wingman" was playing guardian of Nellis, I went off and had myself a glorified little (but scrumptious) hotdog. 

At the time, all I was thinking about was me and how to satisfy my hunger in its current state, with little or no regard to my fellow Airman. 

After my brat, I scurried to the front gate to relieve my counterpart only to find the person who ordered me to be there after I finished lunch, standing as a placeholder to the Airman who was there before. 

It was then that I had my "wake-up" call. My chewing out was just about to begin.
"Where have you been," demanded the captain. 

"Sorry, man, I was getting more food since my hour at lunch wasn't up yet," I replied.
"First off, I'm not your man," he said, looking very perturbed. 

At this point, I knew I had messed up. 

So now, aside from being late and disobeying an order, I've got disrespecting an officer on my list. A quagmire to say the least. 

So after about five to eight minutes of this captain chewing me out, he told me to keep this between us and to straighten out, or things would get rough, to put it lightly. 

I learned a few things coming out of this with my hind-end still attached - barely. First off, no matter what you think, even if you are off base, out of uniform and with your friends, no officer is your "man." Not only is it disrespectful, it makes you look bad. 

Second, if you say you are going to be somewhere, be there at that time - and if you can't make it, let someone know. It has been my experience that if you let someone know beforehand you can't make it on time, they are more than likely to accept it and come up with an alternative. 

And lastly - take care of your wingman. He's your wingman for a reason; you should do for him what you expect him to do for you. 

So don't be afraid of a little chewing. It's just a way of letting you know, "Hey, I noticed you messed up, now fix it." Take what is said to heart, make a few changes in your life and get on with your duties.