Recently, I took Jack to the park on post near our house to swing on the baby swings and enjoy a warm spring day. That’s where I overheard the most absurd statement I’d ever heard uttered from a military spouse.
There were two fathers in uniform playing with their children while another two mothers approached with two little girls. I’d gauge the girls’ ages to be around 9-11 years old. One of the girls was the daughter of one of the fathers, and the other two came with the two women. The two who came with the women were playing together and asked the third little girl if she wanted to play with them. The mother quickly called one of the girls over, and said, “Hey sweety, how about you just play with Kara” (the other girl she was already playing with.) The little girl asked why, and I kid you not, the mom responds, “Do you see her daddy’s rank? Daddy and Kara’s daddy are Lieutenants. Her daddy is a specialist. We don’t play with them. They’re just not like us. I’m not sure why they’re even on our playground. Anyway, go play with Kara sweety.” The little girl shrugged and went back to playing.
You can’t make this stuff up. I could not believe what I had just witnessed. I was two seconds away from jumping over the bench and laying into her. “They’re just not like us?” Do specialists secretly sprout tails and spew gelatinous slime from their noses when there’s a full moon? I mean COME ON. Oh, and just because a playground happens to be near a company grade neighborhood, doesn’t mean you own rights to it. Inside I was screaming “you’ve got to be kidding me!” This was the epitome of what I call, a rank skank. What is a rank skank, you ask? A spouse who wears their service member’s rank, or pulls the rank card to feel superior to other spouses. How can you spot one you ask? Here are a few clues.
She might be a rank skank if:
She’s ever asked another spouse what rank her husband is upon first meeting. This is usually an indication that she is going to base her judgement of that spouse and her future interaction with them, based on the rank of their service member. If you run into one of these women, don’t even bother engaging. Walk away. She’s a judgmental snob and you deserve higher caliber friends.
She’s ever used her spouse’s rank to get out of trouble. I’ve heard of spouses trying to pull rank to an MP in an attempt to get out of a ticket. If anything, that will backfire and get your service member in even more hot water because you’re acting like an entitled brat.
She’s ever voiced herself as rank so-and-so’s wife in an attempt to get special treatment. I once saw a spouse try to jump the line in the commissary by stating their spouses rank, like that somehow made her time more valuable than everyone else’s in line. Needless to say, there was an officer of much higher rank than her husband in said line, and he swiftly yet tactfully put her in her place. I was pleased.
Now these are common examples of spouses wearing their service member’s rank, but what I witnessed in the park; never, ever had I seen a rank skank that bad. My husband is a field grade officer. You know what that makes me? Ashley. That’s it. I do not serve and I do not deserve any special treatment based on my husband’s rank. I am my own person, and that person is not a soldier. Therefore, I have absolutely no ground to demand exceptional privileges at all, period. Never have, never will.
As military spouses, we need to band together more than anything. Seeing each other as lesser for simply being married to a lower ranking spouse is petty and foolish. All military spouses deal with similar separations, PCS drama, and general obstacles that come with the military lifestyle. We should focus on finding common ground, building up and supporting one another.
I am most disheartened by the fact that her child was subjected to this false hierarchical notion. Now, she seemed as if she didn’t really understand or care what her mother was saying, but what about when she grows up? What if her mother continues to ingrain this type of spousal hierarchical thinking into her? Is she going to go into high school forging friendships based on the rank of their parents? Worse yet, is she going to marry into the service and follow her mother into rank skankdom?
Unfortunately, I won’t be ending this post with some well thought-out, grand solution to curbing this type of behavior. I can’t control what other spouses think or how they conduct themselves. I can only control my conduct and the molding of my children’s outlook of others. I will raise my children to be kind souls, who determine another person’s worth by their actions and attitudes toward others, and that’s all I can do.