Grammar Police

Updated: January 23, 2009

grammardacAdding Tommy Batboy to the Ranger Up team has made a huge difference – he’s energetic, a natural salesman, has great stories, and works his ass off 24/7 to tell the world about Ranger Up. One of the unexpected things that has come out of the Tommy Batboy acquisition; however, is that I have realized that I am a giant dumbass. Now, this in itself was no surprise to me, but as I started telling him more stories about my military career, the depth and breadth of my dumbassery really came to light. As such, on occasion, I will tell a story from the Dumbass Chronicles.



I have no poker face.

My emotions are always clear – particularly if they involve anger or amusement. I’ve tried to get better at this, but I’ve been trying since I was 18 and it hasn’t gotten any better, so it’s safe to assume this isn’t going to change.

Couple this affliction with my sarcastic bastard personality, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.

The Magic of Conversation (with your boss)

We all huddled around LTC H, the battalion commander of the 4th Ranger Training Battalion and a great freakin’ dude, as he unfurled story after story from his younger days in the Army. It was a classic “No shit there I was” moment with the old man.

I was the AS3 then, but I was about to take the helm as the S3. MAJ Big Head, my boss and the S3 for one more day, was enjoying his last day on the job by bullshitting with the old man, as were the XO (MAJ Too Smart) and SFC D, SFC G, SFC P, and SFC S – the NCOs that really ran RTB while the rest of us drove around in trucks all day and did PT three times a day.

LTC H had just told a story about narrowly avoiding getting into major trouble as an LT, when the Company Commander from Bravo Company came running in.

“Hey sir! Just got the results from all the patrols for last night.”

“All NO-GOs, right?” LTC H responded.

“How�d you know that already?”

“I’m omnipotent.” LTC H answers.

I wince.

Hoping my crappy poker face had not failed me again, I scan the room. I am staring right into MAJ Big Head’s judging eyes.

“What, Nick?” MAJ Big Head snapped. MAJ Big Head is a great officer, but he believes that officers should always be serious and professional and he had made it one of his missions in life to remove my “personality”.

“Nothing, sir.” I responded.

“Bullshit. Why’d you make that face?”

“What face?” I ask with my aforementioned weak-ass poker face.

“CPT P, what the fuck, over?” MAJ Big Head almost snarls.

Ah shit. I wasn’t Nick anymore. I was CPT P. To make it worse, now everyone was looking at me, including the old man.

“Nick, what’s up?” asked LTC H.

I Need to Pick Up Lying

I am a lot of things, but a liar is not one of them.

“Sir, I think you may have used the wrong word.” I responded meekly.

“No, I didn’t.” stated LTC H emphatically.

Now I felt challenged. Meekness faded.

“Yes, you did, sir.”

MAJ Big Head glared at me.

“Which word?” LTC H asked.

“Omnipotent, sir.”

“No, I used it right. It means all-knowing. I knew about the NO-GOs before he told me about it.”

I fight the urge to tell him that he knew “before he told me about them.”

“It means all-powerful, sir, not all-knowing.” I proclaim with perhaps too much enthusiasm.

“I’m sure it means all-knowing.”

“Sir, the word you’re looking for is omniscient. It’s a common mistake.”

I could tell by the looks on the Sergeants First Class faces that I had perhaps stepped on my crank with that last comment. MAJ Too Smart chuckled into his hand, because like me, he was a sarcastic asshole – but that sonofabitch has a poker face. MAJ Big Head wanted to strangle me with his bare hands, but luckily, LTC H was smiling.

“You know what else is a common mistake, CPT P?” LTC H asked.

The NCOs are trying not to laugh.

“Correcting your battalion commander’s grammar in front of the TOC, Sir?”

“You got it, Nick. Start pushing.”

I dropped and started knocking out push-ups while MAJ Big Head smiled above me. The NCOs and MAJ Too Smart were laughing. I would be the S3 in eight hours and I was doing pushups in the middle of the TOC. The recycled Ranger Student on the phones must have thought the world was about to end.

I should have let it go at that.

“You know, Sir,” I shouted from the front-leaning rest, “I knew you were going to say that! I must be omniscient!”




  1. Tim Burrill

    January 22, 2010 at 1:11 am

    OMG…priceless…and you knew I was going to say that.

  2. Tony

    September 21, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Too funny. I never did it to the commander but a fellow NCO and I would highlight the grammar mistakes in the SGM’s e-mails and send it back to the 1SG. A few times we printed the worst examples and hung them on the bulletin board. You are not alone.

  3. Charlie Mike

    May 1, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Great post. You stuck the landing.

  4. Mark

    May 1, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Not quite the same thing, but it reminded me of the Day I Decided to Become an Officer. As an 18-year old private E-2 (100 years ago), the company commander, platoon leader, and the usual entourage (including an active-duty major external evaluator–we were ARNG) were standing around planning a patrol. After a few minutes, I chime right in…with my, you know, own thoughtful observations. “Sir, perhaps if we used the military crest of the hill, and then used enfilading fire…”
    Looks of horror.
    “Shuuuut UP!” says the Major.

  5. LR Hale

    May 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    LMAO…you nailed it. Great story, sir!

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