A Lifetime Working with Idiots & How to Survive…is a great book. Useful information for every person, in any profession, regardless of age. A must read for anyone who wants to get ahead in business and in life. The Author is an excellent writer and mentor who has transcribed his years of experience into a “fun and informative read”. Everyone should buy the book today. Enjoy!
Chapter One – “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”
In every life, we have some trouble. When you worry, you make it double.
Call me Ishmael.
The sentence above is one of the most recognizable first lines in all of literature. My college English Professor would be proud of me. While that sentence has absolutely no bearing on the content of this book, it does meet the “number one” requirement for Creative Writing 101; the first sentence must command the reader’s attention. Now that I have yours, let’s begin.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an idiot as: a stupid person; a fool – imbecile – blockhead – dunce – nitwit – dolt – moron – jerk – dimwit – airhead – simpleton – and on and on. I believe the word idiot has more synonyms than any other word in the English language. My favorite idiot quote goes: “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.” – Mark Twain.
For those of you old enough to remember the opening monologue for the television series Dragnet, “the stories you are about to hear are true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.” The stories in this book are analogous. This book was written on the premise that you, the reader, are not an idiot. However, if, during the course of your reading, you discover that you possess traits of idiocy, save yourself and, even more importantly, save those around you from you. This will be a perfect opportunity to redeem yourself. After all, nobody’s perfect. Wait! Hold on a minute. That’s one of the idiots we’ll cover later in this book.
In reality, while some may differ, not everyone in the workplace is an idiot. Some organizations have more than others. Some companies import their idiots; other companies home grow theirs. I have never been at a company that didn’t have at least a few. Now, on the flip-side, I have met and worked with some exceptional people. These folks are rare. When you do discover one, make them part of your work-circle. Not only will this help you in your career, it’ll help you maintain your sanity. The average worker is neither an idiot nor exceptional. While you may strive to become exceptional, at the same time, you should avoid, at all cost, becoming an idiot. That’s where this book comes in.
Forrest Gump’s mother put it rather nicely, “Stupid is as stupid does”. Being inept doesn’t make you an idiot, it makes you inept. Being naïve makes you naïve, etc. The personality types I cover in these pages are “purposeful”. By that, I mean deliberate in their thoughts and actions to cause harm. While idiots are few in number, they can cause great havoc.
After high school, I enlisted in the U.S. Army and served three years on activity duty and then three years inactive reserves. Throughout this book are stories from my service. This is one of my favorites. Our little group of eight was always getting into trouble on the weekends while in training. My buddies and I, while we were Army, were stationed at the Naval Amphibious Base at Little Creek, Virginia. Our antics were harmless; stupid little things like sleeping on the sand in Virginia Beach, which is a “no, no”, or a “slightly inebriated” soldier taking a pee on a cop car, while the two cops were still sitting in it; nothing of a felony nature; just young men letting off steam.
What transpired was always the same; the police would turn us over to the Shore Patrol (the Navy’s equivalent of the Army’s Military Police), the Shore Patrol would turn us over to the MPs, and the MPs would escort us back to base and wake up our Commanding Officer; usually around three or four in the morning. Our Commander would come out, usually in a tee-shirt and boxer shorts, chew the hell out of us, threaten server reprisals for getting him up in the middle of the night, and then go back to bed. By Monday, it was usually forgotten and nothing ever came about it with regard to punishment.
But, there was this one time when the Commander Officer was calling us into his office, one by one. I think it was the time we had a slight altercation with a group of Marines in a bar; or as we put it, a gentlemen’s disagreement. When it came to my turn, the Commander started with, “Now, son.” I immediately interjected, “Don’t call me son, you’re not half the man my father is.” Continued in book…
There are countless personality types you’ll deal with over the years. They may or may not be idiots; that depends on how extreme their quirks are. These personality types can range from just being a pain-in-the-ass all the way up to a total jackass. Keep in mind that the workplace is typically not the medium that bred these personalities. The workplace is, however, a Petri dish full of nutrients to grow and embolden a few without the constraints of outside influences to keep them in check. For me, it makes no difference if someone is a man, a woman or a visitor from another planet. A co-worker is a co-worker. I interact with everyone identically.
Let’s review some of the more common types you’re bound to meet, if you haven’t already. Please note: personality types can and often do cross over creating what I’ve coined, the “combonality”. When taken to the extreme, bits-and-pieces taken from each type, the “Frankenstein Monster” is born. It’s not a myth. While extremely rare, they do exist. I’ve met a few from time to time. Should you meet one yourself, my only advice is…run for your life!
When some of my friends learned I was writing this book, their immediate response was, “Am I in it?” Jokingly, I’d reply, “No…the sub-title of that book would be, Idiots I’ve Known, and it would be a multi-volume set.” Continued in book…
Salesmanship will serve you well in life. If you’ve never held such a position, try it. Take a part-time job at an appliance store, a phone soliciting company, or a car dealership. You’ll learn about yourself and others…fast. When I was seventeen, a friend and I were driving over to his house one Saturday afternoon and happened to pass a house that had a car on the front lawn with a “For Sale” sign. The sign also stated, “$300 as is”. My friend had me pull over, got out, and yelled back for me to wait. I watched as he rang the doorbell and entered the house.
A moment later, he came out, took the “For Sale” sign from the car and threw it in the back seat. He then hopped into the car and waved for me to follow him. When we got to his house, I asked him why he needed another car when he already had one. He said he didn’t. I replied, “If you don’t need another car, why did you just spend three hundred dollars?” He smiled and said, “I didn’t. I only paid one fifty”. My friend went into the garage and got two lawn chairs and some sodas. He then parked the car on the front lawn and placed the “For Sale” sign back on the car’s windshield. Taking up our positions in the lawn chairs, we enjoyed the afternoon sun and drank our sodas.
Within an hour, a car stopped and the owner got out. My friend met him coming up the lawn. After a little haggling, my friend sold the car at the original three hundred dollar asking price. A one hundred percent profit in less than an hour. I learned that day that my friend’s “gift of gab” could talk you out of your last dollar…twice! Continued in book…