When I was stationed at Pearl Harbor, one of my subordinates was a narcissist. He was handsome, hard working, and very, very smart…but everything was about him. I was in his way, so one day he came up to me to let me know that he had put in a complaint about me, about what I was getting paid, and why.

Thing is, when he said that, it was as if to him, it was no big deal. He said it in an “Oh by the way” tone. Strangely enough, he said it in a way that it seemed that he thought that such a complaint (one that threatened my career and my livelihood) shouldn’t be offensive to me at all.

As time went on, his complaint went nowhere, and he was kicked out for reasons that had nothing to do with me. On his last day on active duty, he shook my hand and wished me well, as if he’d never tried to end my own career. I wished him well in return (and sincerely so).

But the thing is, as far as I can tell, he never held any actual malice towards me or my family. I was just in his way, and that was the only apparent reason he tried to ruin my career. To him, it was never anything personal…and he seemed to assume that I wouldn’t take personally a threat to my own career.

Wherever he is, I hope he and his family are well…but I do feel for anyone who was in the unenviable position of being his supervisor.

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Retired Navy. Inveterate contrarian. If I haven’t done it, I’ve usually done something close.

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