Volume 37, Issue 9, September 2002
Time to Come Clean
by Lyle R. Hill
“Good morning, Mr. Hill. How are you today?”
I had been expecting the call. I wasn’t sure which one of them it would be, but I knew one of them would call. They always do.
“I’m OK,” I replied casually. “And how are you?”
“Well, it’s just another hot, August day here in Virginia. But we’re supposed to get some much-needed rain here a little later in the day and that should cool things off a bit.”
I knew she hadn’t called to talk about the weather. And the fact that this call was coming from the boss herself also wasn’t lost on me. Oh no … I knew exactly what she wanted, but you can’t let people like her push you around. You gotta hold your ground. You gotta be tough.
“Well, I guess everybody needs a little rain in their life. But listen, I know we’re both pretty busy so let’s put the pleasantries aside and get down to the reason for your call.”
“OK, Lyle, I’ll get right to the heart of it. I need to talk to you about one of your recent articles. You see, we’ve received a lot of calls about it and I’ve promised some of our readers and even a couple of our advertisers that I’d make you come clean on some of your comments.”
So that was it. I should have guessed the minute I heard her voice. I’m plenty used to getting a call from them about the third week of every month, but usually it’s Ellen-whatever-her- last-name-is-now, or Tara or even Tina. I think they rotate on purpose just to confuse me … not that it ever works, of course. But this time it was the boss herself … yeah, this time it was going to get nasty. Debra Anne Levy comes across as being soft-spoken and sweet, but I know for a fact that it’s all an act. And you know how I know? Cause she’s from New York. That’s right … New York. And nothing soft or sweet has ever come out of New York.
“Listen, Deb, I thought we had an agreement. And if you’re gonna start making me retract things or apologize for my opinions, then I quit.”
“You sound like you need a vacation, Lyle.”
“I do need a vacation … I’m under a lot of pressure … and you guys at USGlass don’t always help. You want me to be creative with these crazy articles, you want me to be nice to people and you want me to be on time. And if all that’s not bad enough, you now want me to start apologizing and retracting things I’ve already written. I’m tellin’ ya … I think I’ve reached my limit with this whole article-writing thing.”
“Calm down, Lyle. It’s not all that bad and besides, we only need you to apologize for one article … at least for now.”
“The one titled ‘Some Advice … Times Three’ that ran in March.”
“What are you talking about? That Dave Barry book was terrific and the IGA keeps getting bigger and better with each passing month.”
“That’s two of the three, Lyle. What about the other one … the one where you told people to bet every dime they had on the ‘can’t-miss’ Chicago Cubs. As of this morning they were 17 games out of first place and had lost six of their last ten games.”
“It’s early. Anything can happen. And like Yogi used to say … ‘it ain’t over until it’s over.’”
“Lyle, it’s August 26 … four days away from the strike deadline and even if they keep playing, the Cubs are through. Admit it … deal with it … get over it and move on.”
“It was Dick Voreis, wasn’t it? He’s hounded me all summer about the Cubs. And to think I even got tickets for him to a game at Wrigley Field. He probably called and talked you into this. Or maybe it was Greg Demirdjian … every time the Cubs lose a game he calls and blames me. Says I jinxed ’em with my article.”
“They were two of the many who either called, wrote or e-mailed to us about the wackiness of your March article. But we regularly get complaints about you so we didn’t want to over react.”
“So what do you want me to do now?”
“Yes. Apologize … in writing … and promise to never again encourage people to bet on another can’t-miss event of any kind in the future. Surely, you must see the errors in your actions. You do understand that you were wrong, don’t you, Lyle?”
“So you will issue a formal apology in your next article?”
“I just did …”
Lyle R. Hill is the president of MTH Industries in Chicago.
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