Volume 45, Issue 4 - April 2010

theBusiness

 

Perverse Anonymity
by Lyle R. Hill

As I have publicly stated on more than one occasion, I regularly get what could be referred to as “negative feedback” on statements that are made or on opinions that are expressed on the pages of this fine publication. It kinda comes with the territory and I typically don’t take any personal offense by way of the comments thrown my way. If you are going to make your opinions a matter of public record, than you should expect to hear from people with differing opinions. And by the way, I have now lived long enough and been through enough to fully accept the fact that I can and will be wrong from time to time on any number of matters. In fact, over time, my view or opinion on some matters may even change. Intelligent, open-minded people should be open to the views of others and willing to consider positions that oppose theirs if they are presented in reasonable and practical terms. As an example, John Luckett (Glass Designers, Chicago) once became quite upset after reading something that I had written and immediately called me to express his view. The conversation went something like this:

Luckett: “Hill, I have just finished reading your most recent article and I now believe that you are not only old and nearly useless, but perhaps crazy as well. You have offended me and I have talked with my attorney and plan on meeting with him tomorrow to discuss the possibility of taking legal action against you.”

Me: “Luckett, I have no idea what you are talking about but I know for a fact that you are older and crazier than I am and legal action against me will prove futile so why waste your time and money on such foolishness.”

Luckett: “Okay, I will not pursue legal action but only on the condition that a proper apology is given and that you meet me for lunch tomorrow at a place of my choosing.”

Me:
“You got a deal Luckett and I accept YOUR apology for bothering me with this nonsense. See you at noon tomorrow at your favorite place and for once please try to be on time.”

So, like the gentlemen that we are, we met, we talked, we disagreed on some things, we agreed on other things and, as has been the case since I have known John Luckett, I paid for lunch.

And this is the way it should be. This is how these types of things should be handled.
But now, I have to ask, is civility being tossed aside like yesterday’s trash? Does common courtesy now count for nothing? Can we no longer discuss and share our opinions in a decent and open manner? Let me explain …

Yesterday, I received by way of a scanned e-mail a copy of a note sent to the corporate office of this fine magazine’s publisher making certain accusations about me and about my character in particular. And it was … sit down and hold your breath … sent anonymously … no signature of any kind and no return address.

The note was attached to a copy of a recent article of mine so that there would be no question as to what had stirred the ire of the sender. Not unexpectedly, a note from the publisher, accompanied the document asking for an explanation … or a least a defense of some sort.

I was stunned, shocked, disappointed. One of the two accusations was particularly hurtful. As I sat and read it over and over again, I determined that I would never write another word for public consumption. I’m not going reprint it here word for word; it would be a little rough even for the most hardened reader. But I will share some of it and paraphrase it a bit so that it is in keeping with the genteel nature of this publication.

While the penmanship is poor and in some cases quite difficult to read, in one part of the document I am called a “pervert.” At first, I was a little bothered by this, but after consulting with the Webster Dictionary, I discovered that one of the definitions of this word is … to cause to turn aside or away from what is generally done or accepted. I can live with that, especially in a business setting. But what really stung … and I admit that I have not totally gotten over this as yet … was the second accusation. You see, the anonymous writer called me … and it was underlined and capitalized … a DEMOCRAT!

As those who know me will affirm, I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I hate politics and all that goes with it. I am one of the most independent people I have ever met when it comes to political affiliations. So this was quite troublesome. But just as I was about to pick up the phone to let the fine people at the publishing office know of my decision to never again share a private thought or opinion with the reading public, I noticed the post mark on the envelope in which the note had been sent … Stockton, Calif.

Imagine that, I thought. A Californian … from Stockton no less … how truly humorous … no wonder the writer didn’t sign his or her name … I wouldn’t want anybody to know I was from Stockton either!

Lyle R. Hill is president of MTH Industries of Chicago. Mr. Hill’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.


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