Home Base Life The Rank Card

The Rank Card


It was my first time living on a military installation, and as we waited for base housing to open up to us, my husband and I stayed at the hotel on base for about a month. We’d only been at the hotel for about two weeks, when I encountered the sad fact that wives often try and use their husband’s rank for their own evil purposes.

I was using the laundry facilities at the hotel, reading one of my favorite novels while my clothing dried, when a woman came in wanting to use a dryer. There were two dryers in this particular facility and both were full at the time. One was full of someone else’s clothing (they had stepped out while it was drying), while the other contained my laundry. “Are those both full?” she asked.

“Yeah. I just put mine in, and I’m not sure how much time the other dryer has left on it,” I told the woman honestly, returning to my book.

At this point, the woman literally put her hands on her hips and said, “What rank is your husband?”

“Excuse me?” I asked confused.

“Well, MY husband is a Gunny,” the woman said in boast. Since this was my first time living on base, part of me was concerned that her husband’s rank did give her some sort of pull in a situation like this. However, the other part of me likes to stir-the-pot, so to speak.

“Good for your husband,” I answered with a bit of venom in my voice.

“Well, I’m pretty sure my husband outranks yours, so I should be able to use that dryer.” My jaw dropped. Was this woman seriously trying to tell me that her husband’s rank gave her the right to demand that I remove my wet clothing from the dryer so she could use it to fluff her beach towels?

“Well, I’M pretty sure that my clothes are sopping wet, and I was here first. You’re just going to have to wait.” She stormed off all huffy, of course, but, as you can imagine, she had to wait her turn for a dryer.

From talking with other military wives, I’ve found that I’m not the only one who has encountered such pleasant people. Apparently, quite a few of us have had to bump into these women from time to time (think line jumping at the commissary), and the stories never cease to amaze me. So, how does one deal with women like this? Perhaps I should not have been so snooty in my first encounter, or perhaps I should’ve found her husband and tattled. I’m sure Gunny So-and-So would’ve been thrilled to know his wife was trying to use his hard-earned rank in the laundry facilities. I suppose there are a lot of ways to deal with wives (or husbands, in some situations) who try and pull a rank card that is not there own, but what is likely the best way is to simply ignore them. I’m not suggesting you give up your line at the commissary in order to suit Mrs. High-Ranker behind you, but I am merely suggesting that you let their comments and degrading remarks go in one ear and out the other. Just like a bully at school, what they really want is attention, so win the battle by depriving them of it.

Have you ever had this happen to you? How do you feel about spouses wearing their Marine’s rank?

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  1. I have to say that I’ve never run into this issue in all my years being married to my Marine (where someone tries to make me stop doing something, or physically takes an action like line cutting). I have however, run into several people who perceive me as not being worth their time of talking to and getting to know — all because my husband is either too high or too low. It goes both ways.

  2. My X ran into this many times in our travels, especially senior offers wives. Lost a friend because I was a Sergeant. and the friends husband was a Staff Sergeant. We were’t allowed to be friends in her opinion until I put my rocker on. I told my X from the beginning I wear the rank not her and she accepted that. Even I saw a few Colonels wives try to get ahead in the commissary in the line set aside for those in uniform. sometimes the Junior enlisted would move. But I once told a woman then have your husband the Colonel come and stand in line but I am in uniform and have head of line privileges. She was pissed. Oh Well.

  3. Thankfully I have never encountered this. It almost sounds to crazy to be true. I thought she was going to say her husband was a Lt. Col. or something…not a Gunny. lol….My husband is a Sgt….(in Rank only) in my book hes a General 🙂 I think it’s horrible that you even had to deal with that. I bet you her husband would have been embarrassed if he knew she even said that.

  4. My experience with this is having zero friends during my wife’s entire deployment. She is pretty high ranking, I am a guy, and I was on active duty a long time ago. I got along great with the guys she worked with, of similar rank as me or her. So part of it is my own fault, but once the ship pulled out I had no friends. None. Me and the two kids. I’m lucky to have survived.

      • Thanks! i just found out about the site at the At-Home Dads convention. (yes there is one)
        More challenges all the time. Thankfully at our current duty station we have a bus stop, or I would have no friends.
        Next stop the wife will be CO — more friends or less?

  5. My pet peeve is when a spouse parks in a reserved parking spot based on their military member’s rank.

    Bugs me when I have to park way out and as I’m walking by the spots reserved for E-9s a woman who’s obviously not in the military gets in her car in the spot I should have had.


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