The E-4 mafia is famous for shamming. In case you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, it represents the tendencies of junior enlisted to slack off professionally while avoiding getting caught. Those in the Marine Corps might recognize the oft-used term “skating” in the same application.
The rank insignia of the specialist, shaped like a shield, has often been referred to as a “sham shield” due to the mafia’s unparalleled ability to accomplish a task with as little effort as possible.
Twitter user @rvaunicorn, identified as an Army officer named Stephanie Worth, posed the ultimate question to the enlisted masses: What was your most sham-tastic moment as a junior enlisted soldier?
Ok #miltwitter what was your most sham-tastic moment as a junior enlisted Soldier? I fell asleep in my wall locker at basic training and missed graduation rehearsal. No one noticed.
— Stephanie Worth (@RvaUnicorn) October 18, 2020
Responses ranged from downright laziness to dereliction of duty.
User @BlondsOvrBaghd shared a hangover story for the books, which, while harmless, is also hilarious.
“I showed up to formation on family day hungover, or possibly still drunk,” she noted. “1SGT decided that my punishment would be to set up all the picnic tables in my condition. Then I crawled under one and slept through the picnic.”
Napping, in general, is a classic sham. And it’s no surprise, considering soldiers have a reputation for being able to sleep anywhere, anytime. The act of inaction is right up there with napping.
Sign up for the Early Bird Brief
Get the military’s most comprehensive news and information every morning
By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Early Bird Brief.
Me and my squad got assigned area beautification at our barracks and when we arrived another unit was already doing it so I told everyone to go to their rooms and not come out until I texted them but that they had to leave their ringers on. Pretty sure I played Skyrim for 3 hours https://t.co/pB2GBpiHVf
— Alicia (@HangryValkyrie) October 19, 2020
This is certainly commendable. After all, why draw attention to a situation that’s already being handled?
In addition to shamming, there’s also scamming. Combine the two earns a mafia promotion to the level of grand-master sham wizard. The risk may be high, but so is the reward, as proven by user @therealtonyleo.
“Soldier of the month was 30 days off the duty roster and a 3 day pass,” he wrote. “I went every month and won because I was the only soldier there. If any other soldier asked me, I told them it was extremely hard and they would hate it.”
Shamming your way into getting senior enlisted in trouble signals a level scarcely known to even the most sham-tastic.
Some recruit got caught smoking a cigarette from a pack his dad snuck him in the mail on duty one night. DI caught him and made him smoke the whole pack inside of a dumpster, hotboxing himself. DI left and forgot about him, trash guys found him next AM. DI got shitcanned.
— Cole T. Lyle (@ctlyle1) October 18, 2020
This drill instructor provided an entirely new meaning to the prase “smoke ’em if you got ’em,” and it cost him everything.
About Sarah Sicard
Sarah Sicard is the Digital Editor of Military Times. She previously served as Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, Defense News, Fast Company, Business Insider and AdWeek.