Sense of Entitlement
By Kelly Crigger
‘Haha. I wouldn’t work for that,” Lieutenant Colonel Bighead tells me.
“It’s a fair salary,” I respond. “Everyone is cutting their budgets now.”
“I’m worth more. Find something better,” he says hanging up the phone.
This is a real conversation. I’m a recruiter that specializes in placing veterans in tech jobs and management positions and I had this exact talk recently. I used to make fun of the Occupy Wall Street kids who squatted on public parks and made unreasonable and oftentimes laughable demands for the world to take care of them like they needed an extra large teet to suckle off of. But now I was getting pretty much the same attitude from a 20-year military veteran with an overblown sense of self-worth.
I’m a huge champion of that oh-so-core capitalist value: a free market economy. And I believe everyone should aspire to capture their market value and then some. If you discovered Einsteinium and you’re worth a bazillion kajillion dollars a year then by God demand it. But here’s what most people don’t realize…the market dictates a person’s value, NOT the individual and Lieutenant Colonel Bighead doesn’t know what I do-that the market is turning down sharply right now so the days of demanding $150K to be a Program Manager in DC are over. Some people can still get that salary, but very few and certainly not ones coming straight off of active duty.
Military retirees are in dire straits in 2013. The recent government budget cuts have forced every company in this industry to cut corners, slash budgets, and do away with the free M&M supply in the break room (the horror!). I have a friend who recently retired from the Air Force after a VERY distinguished career as a Nuclear Missileer. Right now he’s in training to be a postal carrier because there are no opportunities for him outside of uniform. No joke.
So the attitude of “I’m worth more” needs to be checked at the door.
And now…the rest of the story.
In a strange way I’m just as guilty as LTC Bighead. When he copped an attitude with me, the first thing I thought was, “you disrespectful fucko.” I didn’t like the way this guy talked to me. He’s easily 4 years my junior and in uniform I would have jacked him up until he cried. In reality he probably wouldn’t have talked to me that way in the first place because he would have been more professional (I hope).
But that’s the exact same narcissistic character flaw that I was pissed about in the first place-that somehow I’m owed something for my service. For a minute I felt like this guy should show some respect for my time in uniform when I realized a blinding truth: no one gives a shit about your service when you take the uniform off…and shouldn’t. Your rank, your badges, your cool beret doesn’t continue into civilian life. It’s over and overnight you go from Joe Cool to Joe Bag-O-Donuts when it is. No has to give you respect or recognize your authority. It’s just like starting over, so once again…check your attitude at the door.
When the Occupy Wall Street movement was going on everyone (including me) kept telling those kids with an overblown sense of entitlement to Ranger Up and get over it. That’s good advice no matter how old you are.