Control over the unit is spread between the NCOs and officers. In theory, these guys run the show. In practice, however, much of the work is delegated down to the lowest level. This is where the specialists, senior airmen, seamen, and lance corporals come in. The highest rank among junior enlisted is left in an awesomely weird predicament in which they can shuffle work to the privates, satisfy requirements from higher up the chain, and then relax for the rest of the day. This is called the E4 Mafia or Lance Corporal Underground. But even those in these unofficial unions have a few bylaws that they must never break.
Here are a few of the rules that the E4 Mafia/LCpl Underground are willing to admit:
See nothing, say nothing
The very first and most important law of the E4 Mafia is this: Plausible deniability is your best friend. These simple words can be used in almost every situation.
In the military, if you see someone doing something against regulations, you’re supposed to say something. But are you really going to call out your bros for putting their hands in their pockets when it’s cold outside? Hell no.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
At first glance, it may seem odd that Sadi Carnot, a 19th-century French physicist, would have much to do with a bunch of slackers. As he once famously said, “total entropy of an isolated system can never decrease over time.” In layman’s terms, this basically means, “controlled chaos will always take the path of least resistance.”
If you ever ask a lance corporal to do anything, they will half-ass it and tell you that the task is complete. It’s science, really.
Always play the “Shaggy Defense”
This defense is named after a famous lance-corporal-turned-musician who was caught in an unpleasant situation. When confronted with the nasty allegations and irrefutable evidence, he simply kept repeating the Lance Corporal Underground mantra of, “it wasn’t me.”
If there’s evidence that something happened, but not enough to pin it on you, enthusiastically deny it.
When in doubt, skate out
Unless you’re sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that an incoming task will be fun, don’t agree to do anything that comes down the chain of command.
If the first sergeant calls for four volunteers, don’t ever ask, “for what?” Expressing interest is, essentially, as binding as a signature.
If you look right, you are right
The military is a very busy system. Despite all of the hurrying-up-and-waiting that happens, everyone is constantly on the move.
All you need to do to get away with nearly anything is put some effort toward appearing like you’re squared away. Rarely will anyone take the time to make sure you’re actually doing things right.
Never forget where you came from
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re going with your career. Your buddies who tell you that they’re ride-or-die really mean it — you should keep the same promise.
If you happen to get promoted out of the Mafia or Underground, don’t forget that your guys are still your guys. You may have more responsibilities now and you may have to make them work. That’s understandable. However, don’t think — not even for a single second — about turning into the NCO that stabs every single one of their former friends in the back.
Blue Falcon-ing is a crime punishable by disassociation
There are three people that will always garner hatred from the E-4 Mafia: Jodie, the good-idea fairy, and the blue falcon.
If you ever dare to buddy-f*ck one of your fellow mafiosos, don’t expect them to have your back.