“Private! What do you think you are doing?” yelled Master Sergeant Smith.
The private snapped to attention “Trying to get a cup of coffee, sir!”
“Why are you hitting the machine! This machine does not require to be hit in any of its operating instructions.”
“I followed the instructions, but nothing comes out, sir!”
“Look son, it’s simple. You move this lever here, press this button, turn this dial to the desired level, then just pull this lever down and ta-da you have a cup of coffee. They make it easy enough for a trained monkey to use it. If you do not respect your equipment, the equipment will fail you. Do you understand private!”
“Yes sir!” replied the private as he grabbed the coffee and slinked over to a table to drink it.
The next day, the Master Sergeant entered the mess hall to see the same private hitting the coffee machine again. “Private! I told you that there is no reason to hit this machine! Why are you hitting it again?”
The private replied as he demonstrated, “I followed the steps sir, I moved this lever here, pressed this button, turned this dial to the level, and pulled down this lever, and see noth…” He stood there, mouth agape, as the coffee poured out into his cup just as it should.
“I told you son, if you respect the equipment, it will not fail you.
The next morning, the private entered the mess hall to see a crowd around the coffee machine. “What’s going on?” He asked as he tried to get closer to take a look.
“There’s a sign on he coffee machine.” another private replied.
As he got close enough to see, he read the sign.
“This coffee machine has been assigned the rank of sergeant and will be addressed as Sergeant Coffee. Hitting or yelling at this machine will be treated in the same manner as it would for any other sergeant. Respect your equipment and it will not fail you.”
“I think I will just have juice.” sighed the private.
Later that day, Master Sergeant Smith walked down a row of recruits watching them disassemble and reassemble their rifles when he saw one recruit trying to force some parts together. “Private! This equipment is designed to be put together quickly and easily. There is no need to force anything together.”
“Respect your equipment and it will not fail you!” he announced loud enough for all the recruits to hear.
“Yes sir!” the recruit replied as she carefully put the parts together.
After a few more passes, the Master Sergeant saw the same recruit having problems again, this time disassembling the rifle. “Corporal!”
“Yes sir!” Corporal Khan replied as he stepped forward and to attention.
“Take note. I hereby assign the rank of Private First Class to Private…” he said as he read her name tag “Cook’s rifle.”
“Sir?” replied the confused Corporal.
“You heard me.”
“Private Cook, you rifle now outranks you and you will treat it with the respect a superior officer is due or you will face a court martial! Do you understand!”
“Sir, yes sir!” she answered and continued disassembling and reassembling her rifle without any more problems.
The next day, the Master Sergeant was walking through the motor pool when he saw a group of servicemen working on a Humvee. Two of them were prying something with crowbars, one was holding a part in place while the other was hitting it with a sledge hammer.
“What in the hell are you doing to that vehicle!” he yelled causing all four to stop and stand at attention.
“We are installing a new air cleaner, sir!”
“Installing a L-111D30 air filter canister does not require the use of force!” He looked at their work and just starts shaking his head. “You haven’t fully removed the dust cover. No wonder you are having a time getting it to line up.” One of the men reached in and started removing the bolts the rest of the way.
“We were trying to save some time, sir.” said the corporal overseeing the group.
“When you don’t respect your equipment and follow instructions, your equipment will fail you!”
The PFC removing the dust cover finished and backed away holding it.
The Master Sergeant then grabs the canister and carefully slides the canister in place, lining up the intake, dump valve and the output tube and connects the middle strap to hold it in place. “See, if you respect your equipment and follow instructions everything will work as it should. To insure that you continue to respect this vehicle, I am hereby assigning it a rank of Sergeant First Class. Failure to treat it as your superior officer will result in your court martial. Do you understand!”
“Sir, yes sir!” Replied back all the recruits as they snapped to attention.
The following day, Master Sergeant Smith knocked on the door to the Major’s office.
“Come in.” Announced the Major from inside the room.
“You wanted to see me sir?”
“Yes, I did.” the Major said as he stood up and turned around to look out the window. “I have received word that you have been assigning ranks to equipment.”
“There have been some recruits that were having problems respecting their equipment. By assigning a rank to the equipment and threatening a court martial if they did not honor it, it gave them additional incentive to treat the equipment with the respect it deserves.”
“I see. Well, I think you have made your point, so let’s not promote any more equipment.”
“I can’t have my whole division saluting every piece of equipment on base.” he said as he looked out to see an entire company of men salute as they passed a humvee with Sergeant First Class stripes painted on its door. “Next thing you know, there will be a Roomba with stars on it roaming the halls.”