Enlisted Spouse Offended at Being Asked to Be 'Pourer' at Event

Ms. Vicki
Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I am wondering if you have ever heard of a "pourer" at a coffee for military spouses?

I was asked to help out with a welcome coffee for a general's wife. Some of the officers' wives came up with the idea of having a senior enlisted wife (me) or lower-ranking officer's wife as a pourer for the general's wife. I was told it would be the pourer's job to wait on the general's wife.  

I could not believe what I was hearing. I've never really gotten involved with coffees or the family readiness group because I've always been working. I did check with another officer's wife to see if she had ever heard of assigning a pourer at a welcome coffee.

I feel stupid now for trusting her because she told others and it got out to everyone. She was just trying to stir the pot and cause trouble.  

I only asked her because I wanted to know if this is something that is really done. I then got an email telling me I should be honored to be a pourer, and it went out to everyone.

Needless to say, I helped out with that coffee but have not gone to another, and no one talks to me.

I see being a pourer as an insult. If someone is hosting a coffee, they should be responsible for looking after the honored guest. I thought spouses did not have ranks, but clearly they do. I've been made to feel like I did something wrong. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

-- Enlisted Spouse

Dear Enlisted Spouse,

Well, well, well ... so you didn't want to be a "pourer," huh? LOL. Your experience has been the topic of conversation and debate for years, and I'm sure it will continue among military spouses long after we are gone.

I respect your position in this matter. You believed being asked to be a pourer at a spouse's coffee was insulting. Well, I've been a pourer at least twice in my husband's Army career. I can't say I thought it was an honor. I figured I was just helping out where I was asked so a few spouses rotated the duty of pouring the punch.

Question: Did you feel that you were asked to be a pourer because your husband is enlisted? Truly, any spouse who attends the event can assist. The role of a pourer or a hostess is not meant to oppress anyone.

Let me be honest: I won't act like there isn't division among officers' and enlisted spouses. I get letters all of the time from enlisted spouses who believe that officers' spouses, specifically commander's wives, are "pulling rank," and when they push back, their husbands are "called on the carpet" by the commander.

This is bad because there are many enlisted spouses who choose not to get involved because of this very reason.

This happens the other way around too: Junior enlisted spouses believe the senior enlisted spouses take advantage of them, and junior officers' spouses express the same thing about senior officers' spouses.

It is especially regrettable that one wife decided to spread your concerns around. That should have been kept private.

You are a grown adult woman and you can choose to get involved in your husband's unit wherever you wish. You are free to refuse anything that you are asked to do. It's your choice. It is the choice of every spouse. Nothing should be used against you. Keep in touch.

-- Ms. Vicki

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