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April 14, 2005

Vive la Difference!

People always ask me what the difference is between a Warrant Officer and an RLO (Real, Live Officer).

Here's the traditional answer:

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted another man below. He descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago but I don't know where I am."

The man below replied, "You are in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude."

"You must be a Warrant Officer," said the balloonist.

"I am," he replied. "How did you know?"

"Because," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information and the fact is I am still lost. Frankly, you haven't been much help so far."

The Warrant responded, "You must be an RLO."

"I am," he replied, "but how did you know?"

"Well," said the Warrant, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. And you are in exactly the same position you were before we met, but now, somehow, it's all my fault."