I preface this posting with this: I share this not in vein, not to present NCOs in a negative manner because this incident is a reflection on the individual himself, not on other Soldiers, male or female, Officer or NCO.
A few weeks back, due to my job responsibilities, I met an NCO. His job directly impacted an important area of my job within the S-6. I had difficulty getting in touch with him via e-mail prior to our meeting. SOPs were to be established per his guidance and yet he continued to drop the ball and never showed up when we had a meeting scheduled.
One day, he showed up in my office. Out of now where, close to COB (close of business), completely unannounced. My shop was in the middle of pulling hard drives for different laptops in order to record their serial numbers. You can imagine the disarray my shop was in, especially to someone unfamiliar with its usual order.
He introduced himself and I apologized for the mess but told him now was not a good time for us to talk as I was in the middle of a tasking that took priority. He asked to look at an old SOP (standard operating procedure) binder I had on file and that he would quietly gather information he needed and depart. Sure thing, that’s not a problem. He gathered what he needed and was about to head out when I stopped him and asked for contact information that would allow me to reach him directly, since e-mails didn’t seem to be working – he gave me his cellphone number and I provided him mine. This is normal practice in my job, he was on his way, I finished my tasking, closed up shop and moved on with my night. HELLO WEEKEND!
Here in Korea, most of us utilize a popular application called Kakao in order to chat with our friends and family back home for free. The only people I add on Kakao are friends and family, not co-workers. I keep work related contacts strictly to calls, and texts when needed. So, you can imagine my surprise when I awoke the next morning to 2 messages on Kakao (one from just after midnight and the other at 2:30a.m.) completely NOT work related, from this NCO. I was very taken aback. I ignored them. They weren’t explicitly inappropriate, but I didn’t feel him messaging me on a social site was appropriate either. Especially given the hour the messages were sent and that his messages weren’t work related in the slightest.
It made me feel uncomfortable.
Later that day he proceeded to text me, quite casually, as if we were pals. Again, I didn’t respond.
I proceeded to ignore him and sought guidance from a colleague come Monday morning. I was told should he continue to message me and make me uncomfortable I should just let him know it wasn’t ok. Otherwise, don’t bother addressing it.
So I moved on. It sat in the back of my mind, but I didn’t pursue it.
I learned recently that not long after, this NCO was arrested. I do not know the details, but in sharing my encounter I was informed the cause for his arrest was SHARP related…things had escalated.
I find myself wondering if I had spoken up and told him to stop, told him it was not acceptable, or even more so reported it, then maybe the SHARP incident that later occurred could have been prevented. That maybe he would have backed off.
I simply share this with you all today to provide one message: If something makes you uncomfortable, tell someone. If something someone is saying or doing makes you uncomfortable in your work environment, especially with colleagues, speak up! Encourage those around you to speak up. I was made to feel uncomfortable, I knew the messages were not appropriate, my gut told me something was NOT right. But I didn’t do or say anything. Hindsight is 20/20, but I hope in sharing my lesson, you all can take something away from this too.