If there’s one thing I’ve noticed since getting out, it’s that people all over the place are so obsessed with following the “rules.” And sure, rules are good things and, yes, in the Army, you generally have to follow them. BUT, there’s a way to skirt the edge. And this is called “shamming.”

So what is shamming? Simply put, shamming is getting out of stupid work. Police call the parking lot? Maintenance for the CTA? Making sure the grass is painted the correct color of green (definitely not kidding there…)? That stuff’s for the Privates not bright enough to get out of it. Don’t worry, though, we’re about to go over how to get out of this stuff without getting NJPed. (But remember — the best NCOs are the ones who made E-5 at least twice!)



Should you get caught — either at work or in uniform — doing this stuff, I’m not responsible! That’s on you. So make sure and get better at this before you try it for real. NCOs are awesome because they will save your butt in a firefight in two seconds. But let one catch you shamming and you might as well kiss your life goodbye!



There are many ways to sham well and effectively. Really, it comes down to your personality. Are you the talkative type or do you prefer to go under the radar? Are you creative? Can you think on your feet? Are you capable of BSing the command staff? Are you up-to-speed on all of your customs and courtesies? These are the factors which determine your optimal route to shamming. We’ll kick off with the best way to get used to the water…


The Preferred Task

So this isn’t truly shamming, but it will get you into the right mindset and the right way of thinking about solving problems. So when there are details that are about to be ordered, this is where you know that if you’re fuzzy or only have one stripe and a rocker max, you’re going to get selected for a detail.
The key here in this technique is to find a way to get positioned into an easier job. For instance, let’s say that there’s a brass and ammo detail where the dunnage needs to be sorted. Sure, this might seem like a lot, but sorting dunnage is far better than collecting it.

Or, let’s say there’s a police call going on in the motorpool at the same time that something needs to be washed. For this, it’s best to “generate trash” from the items in your pockets. For instance, cigarette butts you might have put in your pocket instead of throwing on the ground, an old scribbled on page from your notebook, or something of the like. Have these “pieces of trash” with you so you can subtly pull them out when doing the police call. Now it’s just walking in a line.

Normally, I’d say “just do the police call,” but this often becomes the catch-all for poor leaders saying something akin to “we have nothing better to do right now and the 1SG won’t release us until someone’s done a police call anyway” instead of what grownups do on the outside, which is have a specific job for keeping the grounds (I believe they call them groundskeepers?).

So, find out what you hate the least and go for that.


Hiding Away

This is really only recommended for those who are capable of flying under the radar. If you’re the quiet guy that few people ever notice. Thus, this requires some outside prep as well. In this fashion, it also helps to be nimble and capable of fitting into small spaces, maybe being extra-flexible would help, too.
Hiding away really comes down to just hiding away in places that are rarely traveled. This method brings with it great risk. You must be quiet, out of the way and you have to keep it secret. You have to know the lay of the land and ensure that if your team leader needs to reach you, you still have signal. Otherwise, you’re likely to be royally screwed.
That’s the biggest risk here — discovery. If you’re found out, well, life will not be fun for you.


Shamming in Plain Sight

This is, by far, one of the most effective methods of getting out of lesser work. To master this, you must be able to move from point A to point B with a sense of purpose. You need to have a crisp walk, a serious face and a random name from the company or battalion with the appropriate rank.

Basically, if asked, you’re “looking for SSG Johnson” or “told to pass along a message to 1LT Henderson.” This is the tricky part — walking through the staff offices, occasionally knocking, and asking “Sir/SGT, have you seen _______________?” They will normally reply with “Negative, Private, he hasn’t been through here in a while,” to which you reply, “Roger, Sir/SGT,” and move on to the next office.

Have a plan if you get caught. You are in plain sight and thus are under less suspicion. Your movements won’t get questioned as much.


A Final Note

Basically, to Privates this will make you a god, to Specialists this will prove you’re not an idiot, and to SGTs and above it will make you a “POS.” Make your peace with that. You’ll say the same thing once you’re promoted out of the military’s bottom-level labor market.

This will come in handy when you eventually deploy to Iran or Syria or some such other turbulent country. You will know how to acquire and look for things that are difficult to come by. You never know when this is [some other unit’s] chairs, maybe a table, maybe those cool things at the USO tent, maybe some C-4 you found in their connex…anything, really! You will be a more versatile and thinking member of the fighting force. And also, shamming is just a rite of passage. So get to it! And don’t get caught…