A little over twenty years ago, I was working for a large corporation headquartered, at that time, in Pittsburgh. The corporation had just hired a new CEO who decided to visit some of the field offices as one of his first actions. So far so good.
At that time, the internet was not widespread as today, but our company had its own long-distance telephone system (satellite to most corporate offices around the U.S. and elsewhere), as well as an in-house email system. The employees, for that time, were very, very connected. So that makes the following anecdote even more incomprehensible to me.
After his visit to a site in North Carolina, the CEO was driven to an airport by an employee from that location, along with a few higher ranking managers. The driver was a long-term employee and a manager, well-known and well-liked throughout the company. He was chosen to drive because he had just purchased a brand new vehicle, which was large enough to accommodate the entourage. He, of course, was very nervous about meeting the new CEO, and he accidently locked his keys in his new, still-unfamiliar vehicle after arrival at the airport. To say he was panicked and embarassed is an understatement. An airport mechanic (if I recollect correctly) arrived with tools to try to help, while others discussed calling for the spare set of keys and waiting for their arrival.
The CEO immediately grabbed a tool, however, and shattered a window. “Problem solved,” he stated. By the way, he was in no danger of missing his flight. It was a corporate jet. At a small airport.
This story spread like wildfire throughout the entire employee base. For most, it was their first knowledge of the new CEO beyond his resume. He was immediately reviled. In fact, that feeling never diminished at all. He was pretty much hated by everyone that I had dealings with in the company, which were many.
So what did the CEO do that was so wrong? Well...
He treated this man as if he were nothing. A thing.
He assumed he had the right to do what he did. If an ordinary person smashed the window of a stranger's car, he could expect to be bitched out, at the least. Maybe arrested. Probably sued. But at the very minimum told, “Gee, that was not nice”. But that was not possible. He had the power to fire anyone who said that.
He humiliated his employee. Yes, the guy he treated like dirt did not tell anyone. Why would he? He probably just wanted to crawl into a hole and die. No, the others there spread the word. And they told the story pretty accurately, and it spread. The guy with the smashed window would not talk about it.
I can attest, no one that I knew had quite the company loyalty that they did before. Employee turnover increased. And morale? What morale? Sheesh.
Yet I am sure that this bastard thought that he was a great guy, a problem solver, a “saver” or “creator” of jobs. We all saw him for the prick that he was (proven by later actions). His wife may have even loved him (although I cannot imagine how somebody who approaches things like this guy did would make love, I mean, holy crap!).
The sense of entitlement is obscene. “I earned this” or “I deserve this” or “I worked harder to get what I have that you did” or “I am smarter and/or better that you”, has anyone heard this before? It all boils down to this: “You are less than me”.
We really have to address this sense of self-entitlement. The woman serving your meal at your favorite restaurant may be smarter than you. Or your meter reader. Or your mail carrier. Or (hold on to your hats here) your children's teacher (yeah, the ones with at least one degree, probably more, that put up with more bullshit than a CEO can even imagine... ). Any or all of them may have worked harder than you. They certainly have to put up with a lot more abuse, don't they? They are all people. Real people. Perhaps we should declare that all people are corporations, then maybe they will have more rights.
It is this disgusting, vile sense of entitlement that is the root cause. These people are simply self-entitled bastards and we have to call them out. Often. Every time. Publicly. If we would have had the reach of the internet then that we do today, I am certain that this incident would have been publicized widely, and deservedly so.
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