I don’t know how my father learned how to be the boss in starting and running his little chainsaw factory that, at times when contracts were due, employed a hundred men and women in those post-war labor-intensive days.
Perhaps it was because he was on his own, without anyone to lean on just after the Great War, with both his parents dead. Or, due to years of farming his many hundreds of acres and learning that: if you don’t nurture your crops, their bounty won’t yield. That if you abuse the cows, they won’t produce your milk. That if you don’t protect the sheep the wild dogs will kill them. That to get the most out of your farmhands, during their dawn to dusk toils, you had to be both firm and fair – to lead without being bossy.
In other words, don’t beat and smack the hired beast-of-burden… like he did his sons.
Hmm… but that’s a story for another day.
Today I am trying to figure out how my father, with only an engineering degree, managed.
He didn’t have an MBA or other professional pedigrees so mandated in this modern, soulless, business world. He wasn’t possessed with artifice or big on sophistication. His sense of humor was constricted. He couldn’t deliver a joke. And admittedly in his early years he fumbled his way through.
I think his only concern was building a great product, whether it was the budding one-man chainsaw, or the incipient riding lawnmowers.
Indeed, he was a cantankerous, backhand-and-forehand SOB to my brother and me. But in business and with his employees, as well as former fellow farmers down on their luck, I think he was a definition of toughness but goodness…
After all, goodness is about character — integrity, honesty, generosity, moral courage, and the like. But more than anything else, it is about how we treat other people. You know, the fallow Golden Rule that’s ‘misconstrued’ these days on Wall Street, Main Street, the Boardroom, Congress, Big Business, as well as the guy giving you the finger down the highway: To do unto ‘dem’ others before dem others do it unto you.
In basic street terms it’s refined down to: Go f-k yourself.
But apparently my bourbon sippin’, corncob-puffing Pappy was more conflicted. Certainly my brother-duh-heart-doc and I witnessed only his dour side. That is, with us he was implacable. We failed miserably at any attempt to please him. And, to say the least, he was hazardous.
We may have thought he was a truculent, raging high-tempered, pugnacious maniac who punished swiftly, severely and stridently. But with his customers and workers in his manufacturing plant there was a magnanimous uprightness.
And the factory responded. Even though it is said that the only time some people work like a horse is when the boss drives them.
Now I bet you know damn well where contemptuous, cynical me is going with all this.
But of course!
Then again… with folks taking a break from pornography to prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft week, you may have missed the ‘naughty-boss’ and ‘corporate-bad-boy’ stories raging in the news these days.
But for those of us who noticed, we are just indignant! Aghast! Even more appalled than at the horrifying Syrian abomination (though Putin claims it is ‘fake news’ from a country absolutely positive there were WMD’s in Iraq) of al-Assad sarin gassing and killing his own fellow men, women and children.
But, of course, I am talkin’ bout those latest of the latest ‘impious,’ corporate ‘sins.’ Those of Wells Fargo Bank and United Airlines screwing its very own customers.
Ouch!… Am I hurting you, babe?
Tsk-tsk! Imagine that. And with Big Business – especially airlines and banks – already ranking just ahead of ‘dead-last’ Congress in the Gallup polls of institutions Americans love to hate.
And, with the ‘Orwellian’ misspeak by the CEOs of Wells Fargo and United fueling the public’s fury, should I also mention here that: Between 1978 and 2015, as the country’s average worker’s pay increased by a mere 10 percent, CEO pay rose by more than 940 percent.
But please, don’t get me wrong here. So tamp down your adjustable-rate of petulant, self-righteous exasperation. Let he who is without sin quit casting bullshit. Afterall your pension plans and 401Ks, mortgages, investments, and lots of utter stuff has lots of skin in this game.
In one way or another we are all complicit here.
Let’s just admit that we share in the blame. So don’t be two-faced and embolden yourself with a holier than thou false impression. Especially in the money mirror. No amount of pancake make-up can disguise that we are all prostitutes and whores, whether to the boardroom, the big stockholders or to the boss who signs our minimum-wage paychecks so that we can pay down our overloaded credit cards.
Hey, those lowly 5,300 ‘fired’ Wells Fargo employees falsely opening up millions of fake bank accounts in trying to meet those unmeetable demands by their big-bonus bosses, well understood what they were doing ‘unto others.’
But it’s just like you pray and beg while rolling the craps dice: ‘Lordy… Lordy… Lordy… Baby-needs-a-new-pair-of-shoes!’
And don’t try to convince me that you were just following orders. Or that you think your boss was absolutely stupid. The fact is you probably wouldn’t have had a job if he was any smarter.
And meanwhile, where were those good Christian-Muslim-Jewish Samaritans on that United flight out of Chicago the other night?
If they really ‘believed!’ that the 69-year old Doctor, shockingly being dragged and pummeled from the seat he paid for, absolutely had to get back to his patients in Kentucky then why didn’t they stand up. And demonstrate some of dear ol’ Pappy’s good old-fashioned leadership and goodness.
You know: make that imperious, belligerent United supervisor a deal the bitch couldn’t refuse – especially on behalf of the unfriendly skies, reaping record profits while literally ‘squeezing’ every indignity out of customers.
If United unquestionably needed 4 seats to transport crewmembers in order to get a United flight out of Louisville, then inform this haughty airline fascist that: In return for the 4 ‘favors’ you pay us each $1,000 and immediately Uber us the 300 miles to Louisville.
Sound good? Then ‘come-on down!’
Look we know we’re bending over to get screwed from Wall Street, to Main Street to the washed out whores down the street. And, for the most part, we’ve long surrendered and are just relieved those O’hare airport security guards in Chicago weren’t knocking out ‘my’ teeth.
Afterall, it’s not as if we haven’t seen this before – last week, last month, last year. United and Wells Fargo are merely the latest distressing twits caught on Twitter, e-mail paper trails and cell phone cameras, documenting the rampant bestiality in our nation of sheep.
All too soon another crooked politician will be reelected just before being sent to jail. It’s no secret we live under the thumb of banks too big to fail and airline monopolies that are given the only routes to get us from here to there.
We are controlled and manipulated by the same corrupt credit rating agencies that fraudulently kept providing triple AAA’s to Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns as their toxic derivatives sent an entire country – not to mention Western civilization — into despair.
Everybody lies. And, for the most part, most of us would too if it comes down to who benefits – them or us. I mean, businessmen will claim that what they do is for the public good, but you know they’re just doing it for their personal greed.
And it’s done, mostly, all over the world in the same manner, way and means – give or take.
When someone falsely chirps: It ain’t duh money, honey, it’s the principle… it’s the money, honey. Your money. Your kids’ college money. Your Mom and Dad’s retirement money. Your insurance money. And, once again, even your pension money invested in their stock portfolios.
The point is that if all you expect from people is disappointment, how can you ever be disappointed? And most of us have got to wonder how it is we cannot be disappointed in ourselves. Which no doubt keeps the booze and drugs flowing.
What really is saddening is that we are such cheap f-ks. And always were. It all comes down to the same 30 pieces of silver — which scholars have determined that in today’s money amounts to somewhere between $90 to $3,000.
Hmm… obviously, ‘cheap’ ain’t just a marshmallow Easter candy.
Or do I mean, Peeps?
Whatever. It doesn’t matter. The truth is we are all greedy in our DNA. We feel a sense of entitlement. And we hate to be inconvenienced – particularly with inconvenient truths. You know: Deny, deny, deny – until you settle out of court, without admitting your guilt.
And if you’re still surprised that we live in a world where our service leaders are worried more about their stock and dividends than they are about service, then you must be swallowing too many corporate slogans. Like at Wells Fargo where they promise the customer ‘comes’ first.
Yeah… but only in porno movies.
But was it good for you, too?
Meanwhile, there is one last point to note. Most of the information about Wells Fargo and United and duh rest of the ‘who’s-sorry-now’ corporate disasters, was brought to us via information — from long investigations by major newspapers, and snapshots by social media.
It is too soon to tell if these incidents of abject malfeasance will give rise to a movement to reform and regulate these de facto monopolies; or, if these episodes were simply the latest shimmering objects to catch the public’s attention.
But the real problem seems to be the uncivilized way we treat each other in general. If we can do this to a random person on a plane, or to a hallowed personal bank account, how far are we from being able to fatally screw each other over nothing?
It makes us appear as if we really are less than human and more like sheep… nonchalantly munching away, ignoring the wolf munching down on the ewe right next to us.
Our political ‘leaders’ do nada, no matter what federal committees they’re on. Only after they read-all-about-it, or hear the news about what they should have been doing, do they come charging down like the cavalry to assault the wounded.
But only, of course, if the TV cameras are rolling.
Think about that next time the Gallup Poll surveys you about who do you trust. And try to remember that a good leader, as well as a good follower, takes a little more than his share of the blame, and a little less than his share of the credit.
And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…