From Corunna MI — 12/22/2009
The significance of wages in the Marine Corps is often accepted as a misnomer, because in theory one is supposed to be serving their country no matter what the conditions. In other words, if you're joining for the pay, you've joined for the wrong purposes. That's what they say anyway, but anyone with a capitalist mindset can see right through that facade. The pay, however, was good enough for me since I was single. But mark my words: when the time comes for you to re-enlist, they're going to entice you with a re-enlistment bonus to keep you on. I never understood how the Marine Corps can be packaged as both a lucrative investment and a point of pride for living a spartan existence in the name of patriotic duty.
The aforementioned paragraph ties in with work/life balance, because you're told that this is not just a job, it's a lifestyle. But what I observed is that when the work day is done, most Marines' first priority is to get out of that uniform and distance themselves from anything resembling their jobs. It sounds good on paper to be a Marine 24/7, but it only fostered resentment in me.
Job security and growth rank high with the Corps, provided that you learn to play along. This is crucial, and it helps to be in a financial pinch (like having a baby on the way or being a newlywed) to justify being subjected to the rigors of the environment. They will give you a schematic to chart your career trajectory, and all you have to do is follow it. Co-worker competence is related to job security, but not a lot of people realize that competence in the Marine Corps is not synonymous with competence in the civilian sector. It's a different culture, and that's not a compliment. You truly have to unlearn all you know and train yourself to assimilate if you want to go anywhere in this occupation. Even if you do recognize incompetence in the Corps, it won't change a thing; you can't do anything about it.
Respect holds a different definition in the Marine Corps. It's a superficial concept that's usually manifested by actions, but rarely is either party truly convinced that there is a rapport and trust factor between them. The Marine Corps' version of respect is limited to obedience, proper greetings with superiors, and abject humility towards them. By doing what you're told and allowing them to talk down to you, you are showing them their version of respect. The good news is that if you stay in long enough, you will able to treat your subordinates in the same manner if you wish.
Encapsulating the work environment runs back to the philosophical ethos of the Corps. Not very many institutions assign such a lofty and ambitious mission to their employees. The uniform and haircut regulations rarely bothered me, because the intention of the Corps was to encourage their people to take pride in their appearance. Pride in one thing ultimately sparks concern and conscientiousness in other things, such as work ethic, respect, and doing one's duty. It is a sound theory, but that's all it is.
What bothered me was the claim of the Corps to be better than sliced bread, and yet having no food my plate to show for it. My experience in the Corps wasn't even mediocre. It was downright counterproductive.