“Bad Airmen” by James Simonton

Airmen come in all shapes and sizes. You have your tall Airmen, useful for securing high things, like books from shelves. You have your strong Airmen, needed for opening pickle jars and moving large boxes. You have your class “A,” high-speed Airman, the best of the best, whose abilities know no bounds. But this story is about the bad Airmen we call “dirtbag” Airmen.

This particular Airman is late to work, smells bad, and is not good at his job. In this story, the dirtbag Airman’s name is “Johnson.” It’s no secret that Johnson’s immediate supervisor, Sergeant Francis, despised him. He was always getting into trouble, and as a result, Sergeant Francis frequently had to accompany him to see the commander. 

Before we can go any further, you need to know my job, which is Air Force security specialist and law enforcement. I protect important buildings and people. On the Sunday in question, I was posted to protect a building along with Airman Johnson. Midway into our shift, I did a walking patrol around the building. Upon my return, I saw Sergeant Francis handcuffing Johnson, who had let Mr. Goodman, an employee with an expired ID, into the building. It’s a big deal to let employees in with expired IDs, because you never know if they have been fired and are coming back to take revenge on their bosses.

Although Johnson was the one in handcuffs, I was the one at fault, because earlier in the day, I had let Mr. Goodman in and had told Johnson he could do the same. At the end of the day, I had to report to Sergeant Francis and our Lieutenant. Apparently, Johnson had told them that I had let Mr. Goodman into the building earlier and had said that it would be okay for him to do so.

My choice was to face major consequences or sell out Johnson. If Johnson had gotten one more Letter of Reprimand, he would have been kicked out of the military, and I didn’t want to be the cause of that. I decided to take the hit, because it truly was I, and not Johnson, who was the dirtbag Airman in this situation. Besides, I knew the chain-of-command would not punish me like they would Johnson. 

Luckily for me, Mr. Goodman had my back; as it happened there was a system failure in the building that only Mr. Goodman was able to fix, so it was a good thing that I had let him in, and he used this event to get me off the hook. As for Johnson, he stayed in the military for another month, until he was late to work and got kicked out.

James Simonton is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and served six years in the Air Force. He had two deployments and won airman of the month. He is currently majoring in political science and international studies at UC Riverside. He is also minoring in theater and does improv.