Volume 38, Issue 1, January 2003
Say It Ain’t So …
by Lyle R. Hill
Sure I’d heard the rumors, but in an industry where rumors run rampantly out of control, I had dismissed them without a hesitation. I hate rumors. And I hate the people who spread them. Many a good reputation has been damaged by an unchecked rumor. But this one, like the architect who just has a few more questions or the contractor that never pays on time, just wouldn’t go away. Still, not wanting to believe what I was hearing, I ignored them.
I’ve often wondered what it is that leads people to become who they are … that molds them into the person we know them to be … that brings them into the situation in which they are found. Life is such a mystery. In my youth, I spent countless hours pondering all of this. And while I came to conclude that much of what life gives to us is dispensed by the hand of fate, I also became convinced that we do have a part to play … a large part in fact … in determining our final course, our ultimate destination. Indeed, we are not mere victims of circumstance. We choose our own course regularly, and to offer the feeble excuse that there was nothing else that could be done … no other path to travel … is often a sign of our weakness or of our unwillingness to take responsibility for our own poor choices. And thinking these thoughts in light of what I was being told further reduced (in my mind anyway) the likelihood that the rumors I had heard could be true.
I had liked him the moment I met him. There seemed to be a sincerity about him. He was straightforward, made sense in what he had to say and brought a fair amount of experience and knowledge with him. Now please understand, I am, by my own admission, a skeptical, suspicious person. Not that it has always been this way. In my early days I was very naïve … believed too much of what I was told … trusted too quickly. But in this industry, the naïve are crushed and destroyed like yesterday’s cullet. You learn quickly not to trust, not to believe, not to let your guard down or be taken in by a boyish smile or friendly demeanor. But I liked him and I liked what he had to say, so I trusted him.
I wasn’t at all surprised when I saw his picture and read his thoughts in the industry’s leading publication. After all, was this not someone to be trusted … someone to be listened to … someone to believe in? Had he not taken the “writer’s oath?” Most people don’t know about the writer’s oath that must be taken before a person is given column status in a publication such as this. You see, in order to get column status, a writer must pledge to be honest, uplifting, encouraging, helpful, trustworthy and gentle to all he comes in contact with. The signing of the oath is a very solemn occasion. No lawyers, politicians or manufacturer’s reps are allowed in the room at the time of the ceremony. I have yet to take the oath … conveniently being sick or out of town on the days when I have been scheduled to do so … but I knew that he had taken the oath ... had signed the pledge. So his appearance confirmed for me that he was legit … OK … a regular guy. So it’s easy to see how the rumors were so quickly tossed aside. Especially so when the rumors were so unbelievable … so nasty … so damaging … so out of character with the person I thought I knew.
Then it happened, and the sting has yet to subside. For on November 26, just two days before Thanksgiving, the rumor became reality. There, on page 54 of the November issue of USGlass magazine, on the right-hand side, a scant 3 inches from the top of the page was the proof. It even included his picture. That smiling, innocent one.
Yes, there it was—for the entire world to see—that friendly, likable, trustworthy, signer-of-the-columnist’s-oath had fallen … had gone to the other side. Had chosen a new path. Had taken a job with … and it hurts my fingers to even type the words … an aluminum supplier. Yes, Max Perilstein has joined the ranks of those who have never made a commitment that they weren’t willing to break … taken an order that they couldn’t mess up … made a delivery that didn’t have something missing. Oh, the agony of thinking that he was one of us, only to now find that he has become one of them. Say it ain’t so, Max … for me … for the children … for the good of all that we hold dear … say it ain’t so, Max, say it ain’t so!!!
Lyle R. Hill
is president of MTH
Industries of Chicago.
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