Lesson 17: Beware of the snowflakes

Compassion and sensitivity are not unworthy characteristics to have.  I have met compassionate and sensitive people that are as courageous as you can be, and I have met arrogant and selfish wannabe heroes that would cower at the first sign of trouble.  When I say snowflake, I am referring to someone that is closed minded, overly sensitive, absent of common sense or rational thought, and needs a safe space to go and cry every time someone has an opinion that doesn’t support or mirror their own.  As tough as the military is, there is no shortage of snowflakes.  Remember when I said, “there are always those that fall through the cracks?”  The military gets its fair share of snowflakes as well.

The military is a harsh place.  The culture is tough and fitting in is important.  There isn’t a day in the military when the stakes aren’t high.  Things can happen at any moment.  It is not uncommon to experience an uneventful streak and then, seemingly out of nowhere, you find yourself hip deep in a stressful situation.  I have seen it happen to others.  There were plenty of occasions when it happened to me.  These situations can be tough, but I assure you they are much tougher if you try to handle them on your own.  You must be able to focus on the task at hand and have the ability to face things that would bother most normal people.  This is one of the main reasons that military training is so stressful.  They need to ensure that you can handle the stress without putting yourself or others at risk.

Unfortunately, there are a multitude of circumstances that breed snowflakes.  You would think that an organization as rough and tough as the armed forces would not attract many snowflake personalities.  I assure you; they are there.  The upside is that they are easy to spot.  They are the ones that cower behind rules and regulations, seek out any opportunity to look good to the higher-ranking members at the expense of others, whining or crying every time an uncomfortable situation comes up.  These are the type of people that have no regard for letting someone else fall on the sword if it means convenience for themselves.

You might not think so, but there are always opportunities for snowflakes to ruin your day.  I was once assigned to a mobile patrol, which was rare for me at the time, given my rank and status.  Being mobile, it is a much more desirable position than static posts where you are stuck in the same spot for up to 14 hours.  We had a member, that whined and complained to leadership about being posted at an entry gate.  This person discovered that if they claimed some “illness” that military regulation required they be allowed to visit the clinic.  This person developed a “stomachache” and needed to see a doctor.  I was ordered to relieve this person while they went to the clinic.  Eight hours later, the person returned, with barely an hour left on shift.  I spent the last hour mobile and was assigned to work the same gate the next night.

This was only one incident.  One example.  Snowflakes are the type of people that bring an elementary school mentality into adulthood with them.  If you aren’t careful, they can get you into a lot of trouble.  You need to be on the lookout for these people.  Sometimes they are overt in the things they do to make life difficult.  Sometimes they operated behind the scenes, taking actions comparable to Machiavellian times in Italy.  Military family and culture are not as important to them as their own personal wants and needs.  The civilian world is full of them as well, but they are not always so easy to spot.  The military has the luxury of a general uniformity that causes snowflakes to stick out much more easily.  As a civilian, you need to pay much more attention.  The indicators aren’t all universal, but they are there.    


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