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A Matter Of Opinion
Disclaimer: I don't own anything here.
Notes: Thanks to everyone at the ATSB2 who commented on this story back when it was originally wrote around a year ago.
Any comments or criticisms are gratefully received.
How many people have you met that tell you 'Never judge a book by it's cover'?
I guess not that many.
It's a bit of a cliché now, but at some point in your life, by your parents, at school or by another adult when you're still too young to know better, someone usually tells you to, 'Never judge a book by it's cover.'
What they mean by this is simple, don't go just on face value.
You have to experience things before you can really have an opinion about something.
You can't not like broccoli, without having tried it first.
But, as simple as it is, we're all guilty of doing it.
We, as human beings, simply can't help ourselves.
We always judge and we judge everything.
We are the only mammals that do it.
So, am I guilty of doing it? Of course, I'm only human after all.
There are times when you need to judge people quickly and during a war, it's judge and get judged.
Sometimes the first impressions are spot on. Other times you get a real surprise.
The three most important people in my life were all judged by me, before I really knew them.
And I was surprised by each one of them.
Some good things, some bad.
But that's how you take people, you accept them as they are.
Sure, I'd like to change some of their habits, but it cuts both ways. I know I have habits that drive them crazy, but they don't want to change me.
I guess when it comes to it, being judgemental's not such a bad thing.
You see some people always think the worst of others, that way when they end up being right, it doesn't hurt as much as if they'd put all their hopes in them. Kinda like not putting all your eggs in one basket, I guess.
Others, think everyone's nice. It's only when you get stabbed in the back that you realise you were wrong.
Maybe they end up becoming more cynical about others or they just keep continuously getting hurt by other people's actions.
I guess I fall somewhere in between these two categories.
When I first met BA, I guess my opinion of him was a little negative.
I'd heard all about this guy who smashed his fists into officers faces, just because he didn't like them.
So, when he ended up in my unit, I can't say I was thrilled.
He had the look that fitted that reputation to a tee.
He gave you the impression he'd just as sooner hit you than talk to you.
The few guys I had in my team at the time weren't thrilled at the prospect, so I knew I'd have to make peace with this man.
I asked him to come and speak to me.
When he arrived, he had a scowl on is face. Mean and moody, that was for sure.
But no man could be so flat, so 2-dimensional.
I asked him to sit down and he did as he was asked.
I started of asking him about his reputation. Why he had such a bad record for hitting officers.
The scowl on his face eased up ever so slightly.
He explained that, if he had been given respect by these men, he'd have no problem giving it back.
As it was, he had received nothing but abuse from them, something he didn't take kindly too.
His old CO wasn't interested when he had reported it, so he took matters into his own hands. Literally.
Those guys hadn't bothered him again.
I assured him that there would be no such treatment here, and if anyone stepped out of line, they'd have to deal with me.
I also told him that it works both ways.
If he's in the wrong, he will be at my mercy, something I assured him he would not like.
The man had a talent for fixing things, and now he wasn't being harassed by some of those jerks, he let his talent show.
Made his old CO green with envy when he saw how well BA was working under me.
I realised straight away that, my opinion of him had changed.
I had been prepared to look for the deeper meaning of this man, and had been rewarded with a side that wasn't all scowls and aggression.
Underneath all that was someone who cared about kids, worried about staying healthy and loved his mother.
And damn it, I was proud of him.
Although I did meet Murdock before Face joined us, it was only a brief meeting.
It was also when I judged him, and found out how wrong I was about him too.
But, I'll come back to him. Face goes first.
This guy, well, he was really something.
He had an air of confidence about him, something in the way he walked and held himself that made you pay attention.
He wore the uniform like it was part of everyday clothing for him, like it was some snazzy suit he'd just had tailor made.
It was also hard not to notice he was a pretty-boy. I don't mean that badly. It's something a guy would never say to another guy, but it didn't mean you didn't notice it.
Being a pretty-boy civilian, is a good thing, but when you're surrounded by men at war, it's not so good.
He was judged the minute he got here.
No one thought he'd survive long enough to see out his service, so he was shoved on to my unit.
I found him polite, a little quiet, with a good sense of humour.
But my first impression of him was, he seemed very shallow.
Ended up being wrong again.
Boy, this kid had everyone eating out of his hands.
He was a master manipulator, he looked like butter wouldn't melt, and people just took what he said as gospel.
I had invited him out with the rest of the team one evening.
I wanted us to be a team, a unit, wherever we were, not just when it came down to the enemy firing at us.
United in life and death has a bad meaning at war, as usually it means united in death.
You'll see team-mates killed, but that won't mean a thing, 'cause you'll still be alive.
Life was the important part, that's when we needed to be united.
The morale was, as you'd expect, low at war.
But Face had a way of getting things you wanted.
It was a surprise at first.
I think we had been enjoying a evening out when I lit one of my cigars.
It was pretty foul, and I had a moan about the cigar being the lowest possible quality.
BA said it was God's way of telling me it was a disgusting habit, but he wasn't one to preach to people about what they should and shouldn't do, it was his opinion and after you knew it, that was it, he wouldn't go on about it.
Face said nothing.
A week later I got a box of cigars on my desk, brought to me by Peck.
I was shocked, really.
Asked him where he got them from, he just said, he had a few contacts.
Again, I had misjudged someone.
I had assumed a negativity about this person that was never really there.
I was determined to learn from my mistakes, and not judge people like that again.
Then Murdock seemed to get stuck with us quite regularly.
The pilots always changed, so it was weird that we kept getting the same one. Not every trip, but it was more often that not, Murdock.
I liked having Murdock as he always seemed happy, nothing getting him down.
Nothing really seemed to dent the smile on his face.
And, it never looked like a fake smile that some of the pilots put on when dropping you off. The 'I'll probably never see you again' one which we all hated.
Murdock just seemed alive. Making the best of a bad situation.
When people aren't making a bad impression, you don't judge them as much, but you do assume they are more often than not that person.
They have no such things as bad moods.
Well, Murdock defiantly had his vices.
He drank a little, and smoked occasionally, not sure it was always just tobacco either. I didn't mind either. Drinking was a way of unwinding for a while and he never took it too far so that he had no idea where he was and I can hardly comment on smoking because I know cigars are worse than that stuff he's smoking, well, at least the cigarettes, I don't have any real proof he smoked anything more than that.
But, when it came to flying, he would make sure he was clean and sober.
He'd never take chances with other peoples lives.
His own never seemed quite so important.
He had a scary ability to self destruct, and he didn't need any alcohol or other substance to do it.
When he was pissed off, there was no way you'd even sit in the same room as him.
He had a reputation that made BA look like a kitten, because when he went off ..... it was something else.
He had a number of fights in bars that we'd witnessed. Other times you'd just see the a bruise here or a cut there.
Wouldn't be so bad if Murdock didn't pick the biggest group he could to torment.
One that he didn't have a chance against. Get himself hurt physically because he didn't know how to stop that pain that burnt within him.
I guess at the time, it was the beginning of his breakdown, but nobody was to know that back then.
It always surprised me how people will never want to break a fight up.
With Murdock I never assumed he'd have such a fierce rage in him.
One so uncontrollable that when you saw him with that look in his eyes and the way he'd scan the room, picking out who best to take on, you'd actually want to leave yourself.
We never did leave him though.
You don't leave your team.
He started doing it less and less.
Then, after the camps, well he lost interest in a lot of things after that.
He had enough scars on him then to last a life time.
Nice how the reputation remained though.
I guess that what I've learnt most from my men is that people change all the time.
There are always little surprises that life's gonna throw at you, whether by people or situations.
How you deal with them is what's important.
You also never finish learning.
My whole life, I can't think of a time when I felt comfortable with the knowledge I had.
I always wanted to know more, so I could make better decisions.
But then, that's just me.
That's just how I think.
I guess it all comes down to a matter of opinion.
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