Saturday, April 8, 2017
I've introduced you to this handsome chap before. He was the grandfather of a good friend of mine and I was delighted to see this newly-found photograph of him. Known mostly as the favored dentist in our hometown, he is still remembered well by some of the parents of my high school friends - nearly 75 years after his death. Imagine that...
Even with a torture chamber for an office, you may wonder why he is still talked about with such warmth and respect among local elders. His striking good looks and untimely death are certainly mentioned but mostly he is remembered for kindness and generosity of spirit. When he died suddenly at 49, nearly the entire town owed him money for the mercury-filled holes in their teeth. There are other stories too - but that's for another time.
More than a few years ago, a co-worker brought a newspaper into work that contained the obituary of the woman who used to run our department. The first reaction was from another co-worker, who under her breath, simply muttered, "Ding Dong". Everyone knew that was a reference to The Wizard of Oz when the bad witch had a house fall on her head. There were a few snickers and a few shrugs too. But I was left quietly stunned. This woman - our former supervisor - was a mother and a grandmother of five. Yes, she was punitive, even mean at times, taking the letter of the company's law to ridiculous and borderline inhumane degrees. But she was a grandmother, presumably with small children who loved her. Somehow, the in-congruence of that unnerved me. Even with an assumed loving family, there were still a not insignificant number of people who saw her as the Wicked Witch of the West and would remember her so. It gave me pause - I thought about legacies and the impressions that follow bosses and others in authority long after they are gone.
I've seen a lot of behaviors from bosses in my lengthy career. I've worked for those willing to do anything to get ahead including walking over friends, colleagues, and underlings and then kicking the remains to the curb. But there have been others who were principled enough to go the extra mile to do the right thing. I suppose success can be had on either path...
Recently I left a job I liked a lot. What I didn't like were the behaviors of the person in charge. His actions were abusive to the degree that gave me no choice. I guess in our careers, it comes down to what we choose to do at the fork in the road. And at the end of our lives, how do we want to be remembered by those we served or by those who served us? I'd prefer to be remembered like the beloved young dentist above and not by a reference to an evil player in a child's fairy tale.
Special note: there will be happy springtime topics to cover here soon. And this, in case you need help: https://www.facebook.com/thatsharassment/