Consequences of being a jerk
in the not-unlikely event of a power reversal
Not-so-good-people, that’s another story. Fortunately, they have been the exception in my career. For the most part I have worked with honorable people who number among my good friends. I can think of only a dozen who treated vendors and associates about as well as rattlesnakes treat field mice.
Indeed, one fellow was actually known in our shop, not fondly, as The Snake. We put up with him because he worked for an important client. Looking back, I think the nickname gave him too much credit. Literal snakes don’t dress up like harmless bunny rabbits in hopes you won’t know who’s swallowing you whole while you twitch in agony. Gotta respect that about literal snakes.
I don’t believe in karma, but it’s not hard to see why many do. Of the above-referenced dozen not-so-goods, eight later reappeared in my professional life after, inevitably, their employer caught up with and canned them. Some called wanting to know if I was hiring or knew someone who was; others were dumb enough to use me as a reference, leading their prospective employer to call.
In the first situation, I express sympathy and promise to keep an eye peeled. The sympathy is genuine; I don’t wish dire straits upon anyone, even people I don’t like. The promise to keep an eye peeled, however, is an outright lie, borne of the fact that I see no use in saying, “The last thing I’d do is recommend a dishonest, toxic personality the likes yours to an unsuspecting employer.” It would launch an argument I don’t need, and, trust me on this one, it would not bring the snake in question to take an honest look, much less resolve to change.
The second situation presents more of a dilemma. Again, even when it comes to people I dislike, I’m not interested in sabotaging anyone’s employment prospects; the dilemma comes from my conviction that employers deserve a fair warning. Ultimately, the conviction prevails. I level, and another snake loses another opportunity.
Don’t let me get away with painting too virtuous a self-portrait. I admit that the reversal of power gives me a bit of satisfaction. But karma shmarma. Anyone says there’s no such thing as a coincidence, I say balderdash. Coincidence isn’t just a thing. It’s a common thing.
Either way, it behooves everyone to beware the consequences of jerk-like behavior in the not-unlikely event of a power-reversal. Perhaps snakes who understood that would act less like snakes, assuming they can, which I doubt. Still, I think fear of payback is a not the best reason to be a decent person. A better reason is that being a decent person is the decent thing to do.