“They Will Never Change”
Why Revenge Is Not So Sweet
by Lyle R. Hill
“I need some advice and I think you are the one that can help me,” the
early morning caller stated.
I really don’t like to give advice. There’s very little good that can
come from doing so. If you give them good advice, they quickly forget
that it came from you and usually assume that whatever good fortune came
their way was due to their own quick thinking and good judgment. On the
other hand, if you offer what turns out to be bad advice, you are quickly
to blame for any woe that comes their way. So it’s a bad situation to
get yourself in. But, then there’s this thing called “ego.” You see, we
all like to think that we are wise in all things and that our advice is
sought-after because of our ability to see things just a little more clearly
than the next guy. I was hooked.
“Sure, no problem. Give me the details and I’ll see what I can do,” I
“Well,” he said, “I’m really fed up with the people I’m working for and
I want to quit as soon as possible.”
“I see, and I suppose that you’d like to apply for a job with us. Is that
“Oh heavens no,” the caller quipped. “I’ve talked with some of the people
who work with you and there’s no way in the world I’d ever consider doing
that. I mean, after all, how long could a normal person survive working
around people like Koziac the Polish Accountant, Jeanine the Queen or
Meathooks Thomas? And now I hear you’ve got the Bibbiano brothers … Chuckles
and Smiley … working for you.”
“Yes, we have picked up the ‘Bibbiano brothers,’ and I do admit that some
of our people are a bit strange, but they grow on you after awhile. Let’s
get back to you and the advice you supposedly called to get. What’s your
story and why do you feel that I can help?”
“Oh, I know you can help,” he began. “You see I’ve been reading your articles
for a few years now and I know that underneath that calm, nice-guy appearance
you try so hard to project, there is a twisted, sinister, evil, diabolical,
scheming, sneaky, cynical …”
“Hey, that’s enough,” I interrupted. “You’re gonna give the readers the
wrong impression. Now do you want my help or not?”
“Yeah, I do … sorry. So here’s my story,” he began once more. “I came
to work for my current employer about two years ago. At the time I was
hired, I was told that I would advance in the company as fast as my talents
and performance would take me, that my future was in my own hands and
that all I had to do was prove myself. But none of that was true. All
I get is one lousy assignment after another. Nobody appreciates anything
I do, and the worst part is they never will change. I am never going to
get any respect or the opportunity that I was promised. And even worse,
the last two opportunities for advancement went to people who were not
even with the company as long as I. All of this has been extremely frustrating
to me. I’m not sleeping well and I have a hard time even wanting to go
to work each day.”
“And have you told your superiors how you feel?” I asked.
“Not really,” he answered. “They’re impossible to talk to and, like I
said, they’ll never change.”
“Ok,” I replied, “I think I get the picture, but what’s all of this got
to do with me?”
“Well,” he continued, “I need your advice.”
“About what?” I asked.
“About how to get even with them. You know … how to make them feel sorry
about how poorly they have treated me … how they’ve overlooked me for
every decent assignment or available promotion. In fact, do you know that
it’s now been almost two years since I even got a raise in pay?”
“Personally,” I responded, “I really think you should sit down with your
boss and tell him or her how you feel and then try to work something out.”
“Boy, Mr. Hill, you’re really starting to disappoint me. I was counting
on you to help me think of some way for them to feel bad about my situation
and all you can come up with is this peace and harmony stuff. I’m starting
to wonder if you’re the same guy that Jungle Jim Bruney told me so much
about. You know … about all the stuff that you did when you guys were
in college. And besides, these people are not going to change, so why
waste my time trying?”
“Exactly how much did Bruney tell you?” I asked hesitantly.
“Quite a bit, but I think I should save the rest of it for when you need
another column or two. Now, are you gonna help me or not, Mr. Hill?”
I was starting to worry. How much did this caller really know? And, of
bigger concern, how much would he tell? Now, as even the casual reader
knows, I am truly a peaceful, easy-going, calm, passive individual. But
maybe I’d better help this guy if for no other reason than to continue
to mask those dark days of yesteryear when I ran with a tough bunch of
“Ok, I’ll help you but you have to do exactly as I tell you. Do you understand?”
“Absolutely,” he quickly replied. “Tell me what to do.”
“Well,” I began, “starting immediately, you have to become a model employee.
Everything you’re asked to do, you do to the best of your ability and
without any whining or complaining … even the worst and most mundane job.
Also, you start coming in a little early and you never leave at the end
of the day without asking your boss if anything else needs to be done
before you go. Next, no matter how busy you get, you ask the people that
work around you if you can be of any help to them. You become the ultimate
team player. You help those under you who don’t know as much as you do
and when you see a situation or encounter a problem that is new to you,
ask for help and then you do whatever is suggested. You never criticize
… you encourage. You never ridicule … you become supportive. You learn
as much as you can about anything and everything that will make you a
better employee and you willingly share what you know in a helpful way
to those who can most benefit from what you know. And you accept every
new assignment with energy and enthusiasm. And most importantly, you don’t
let up for the next 90 days.”
“And then what?” he asked.
“Then you quit,” I replied.
“I don’t get it,” he said.
“What do you mean you don’t get it? It’s perfect. Just about the time
they become impressed with you and dependent upon you, you get the revenge
you want so badly by telling them you quit. What could be better?”
“Oh, now I get it,” he finally replied. “It’s brilliant … Bruney was right
… you’re much smarter than he is … he wanted me to blow the place up …
something about pipe bombs …”
“One last thing, kid,” I said. “Give me your home phone number cause I
want to call you in a few months to see how it went.”
Several months passed by and I completely forgot about the caller and
his situation until one day Jungle Jim Bruney called me. He wanted to
let me know that one of his kids was getting married and that he expected
a nice gift from me for the event. While he was pressuring me to identify
how much I was going to spend on his daughter, I remembered the incident
with the young caller from so many months prior and found his number.
I called that same evening to see what had happened.
“So how did it go?” I asked after explaining who I was and why I had called.
“How did what go?” he asked.
“You know … my plan for you to get revenge upon your employer by making
yourself so valuable to him and then quitting.”
“Well it was kinda strange,” he replied. “I did exactly as you told me
to do and then weird things began to happen. After about three weeks,
they gave me a raise and I didn’t even have to ask for one. And then they
started giving me more responsibility and once or twice even thanked me
for doing such a good job. Sometimes they actually asked me for my opinion
about important matters. It was incredible.
“Perfect!” I exclaimed. “You had ’em right where you wanted ’em. So then
you quit, right?”
“Quit? Why would I quit? Things were going great.”
“But I thought you couldn’t stand it and you wanted to extract your revenge
on them,” I stated somewhat confused by the change of heart I was hearing.
“Oh, I’d never quit now,” he replied quite emphatically. “You see, they’ve
changed … they’ve really changed.”
Yes … I guess THEY did!!!
Lyle R. Hill is president of MTH Industries of Chicago.
Mr. Hill’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this
© Copyright 2010 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.