First impressions important

Commentary by Tech. Sgt Edward J. Jones Jr.
786th Civil Engineer Squadron

First impressions are lasting impressions. If they weren’t, we would not worry about our appearance or how we came off to others. I can remember as a young Airman at my first duty station, my fellow wingmen never shined their boots, never pressed their uniforms and many times walked around with unserviceable items. Their excuse was, “We’re dirt boys and we’re supposed to look this way.” Over time I began to adapt this theology until I ran across a young senior Airman in my shop that had just gotten back from a deployment. 

  His uniform was pressed so tight that it looked like his sleeves could cut glass; his boots were shined so bright that they blinded you just to look at them. He came to work that way, changed into work clothes, and worked, then left the same way that he came in. When I asked him why he went through all of that trouble he told me, “True, we are heavy equipment operators, but we are Airmen first, we are expected to hold a standard or exceed it.” From that point on, those words played in my head and still do to this day.

   I started shining my boots on a daily basis and my uniform was always pressed. With that new look came a new persona. When people saw me they knew I was sharp from the first impression and my personality did the rest. I did a complete turnaround and ended up making below-the-zone and numerous awards followed. Sometimes, when we are surrounded by people who don’t care about a standard or upholding it, you have to be the one to step up and make a stand. You may not affect the masses, but if you can affect the attitude and change at least one person’s thought process, then you have done your job. 

 Before we were civil engineers, security forces, medical, special forces, communications, we were, and are Airmen first. Those lasting impressions that we make now will affect generations to come. So ask yourself, are you setting the example? What kind of impression are you leaving on the new generation that will one day take your place?