Volume 34, Number 5, May 1999


Time To Be Taken Seriously

by Lyle Hill

It arrived in an oversized plain manila envelope . . . no return address . . . post marked out of New York . . . I was curious . . . and a little bit worried too. It looked very suspicious and even though it wasn’t making any ticking sounds, I still wanted someone else to open it. Unfortunately, Koziac the Polish accountant was out in the parking lot changing the oil in his ’76 Chevy, so I took a chance and opened it myself.

The contents didn’t explode, but after I saw what was in it, I wanted to. Apparently, once again, I had been used . . . no, worse than used . . . I had been walked on . . . no, worse than walked on . . . I had been violated.

Recently, a person from the glass industry who appears to be highly successful, took me aside and had a heart-to-heart conversation with me. He said I’ll never amount to anything unless I learn to get tough. He told me the glass industry is controlled by tough, hard-nosed people who take no prisoners in their daily warfare with their suppliers and competitors. He said no one takes me seriously and that a lot of people viewed me as kinda wimpy . . . a softee . . . a push-over. I was crushed. Tears filled my eyes. It became a three-hankie moment. The thought of people not taking me seriously was unbearable. There’s no one more serious than me!

However, he told me it wasn’t too late for me, but I needed to get started on a new approach right away. I needed to instill fear in people and that fear would earn their respect. I decided right then and there that he was right. From now on, I too would become a tough, no-holds-barred negotiator who would go down swinging to the very end.

No more Mr. Nice Guy . . . no more letting people walk all over me . . . it was time for a new me !!!

And yet there, right in front of me was another case of people not taking me seriously. But this time the "New Me" kicked in. This time things would be different. I picked up the phone and made the call.

"Thank you for calling USGlass magazine, may I help you?" the friendly voice offered.

"You’d better hope so," I barked back letting her know right away that I was someone to be taken seriously.

"Mr. Hill, is that you?" she asked.

"You bet it’s me," I fired back.

"It doesn’t sound like you, but what can I do for you today?" the pleasant voice responded.

"I want to talk to what’s-her-face, the editor with that made-up name," I continued in a firm no-nonsense manner letting Miss Sweet Voice know that I was not someone to be taken lightly.

"I think you mean Tara Taffera," she replied, "I’ll get her right away."

It was now quite obvious to me that my new tough-guy approach was working. I should have started this years ago.

"Hi, this is Tara, Mr. Hill . . . is there a problem ?"

"Have you seen the April issue of the Virginia Glass Association’s newsletter?" I asked with a fair amount of agitation in my voice.

"Do you mean the ‘Glass Crier’? " she asked. "It’s one of the best state association newsletters in the country. Why we even considered asking its great columnist Carol Kearns to write for us if you ever got too diffic . . . uh . . . I mean, if writing ever become too much for you."

"I don’t care about that," I snapped back, "And as far as I’m concerned the Crier is a fitting name for that thing . . . a bunch of whiners and criers for that bunch if there ever was one . . . Look on page nine. They reprinted my entire article as it appeared in March. It was called "The Hat" and they did not get my permission to run it. So I’m suing them . . . for big money . . . those guys will never hold a golf outing again. I’m a tough guy and one that should be taken seriously."

At this moment I felt as good as I’d felt in years. This tough guy routine was the way to go.

"Actually, you should be honored by this," she said, "because VGA is a great association. In fact, they recently got a law passed and signed by the governor that gives every consumer in Virginia the right to choose his or her auto glass shop regardless of what insurance companies say. And besides, what exactly are you going to sue them for anyway?"

"For plagiarism, or copyright violations, or cryin’ too much . . . I’m sure my lawyer will come up with something," I replied.

"I believe, Mr. Hill," she began, "that our publisher gave them permission to reprint the article based on your signed agreement with us. Also, they gave proper credit and recognition to you and us in their issue so I don’t think you have a basis for a suit."

"That’s what you think," I fired back. "You obviously don’t know how tough I am. I strongly suggest you get in contact with the publisher as well as Dave White from Bay Area Glass of Norfolk . . . he’s their President or Jerry Penkala . . . he’s their association administrator . . . or John Martin, Doug Cannada and the rest of ‘em. Let ‘em all know that I’m coming after them cause I am one tough guy who had better be taken seriously."

"Okay, Mr. Hill, now I understand that you are a force to be reckoned with," she replied., "but I also believe that you are a savvy business person. So I would imagine that you would accept a negotiated settlement of some kind. Am I correct?"

"Yes you are . . . and by the way my new middle name is now tough and savvy."

"That’s two middle names, Mr. Hill, but here’s the deal . . . if you will drop your threat and let me go back to work right now, I will personally send you a hat and never tell anyone about this conversation. Do we have a deal?"

Now a weak negotiator would probably have accepted this initial offer and before my change, I may have too. But the new me was bolder and not such an easy sell, so I pushed on for even more.

"I want more," I demanded, knowing that my tough guy routine was already paying great dividends, "From now on, I want to be taken seriously!"

"Oh yes, Mr. Hill, from now on you’ll definitely be taken seriously. You can certainly count on that, and I’ll mail your new hat out right away, too."

"And one more thing," I growled, knowing that she was now taking me seriously. "I don’t want just any hat. I want one those cute little hats that say "Virginia is for Lovers . . . in pink . . . with a little white feather in it. Those are precious . . . "

"Not a problem, Mr. H.," she replied, "I know right where to get them. My six-year-old niece just got one for her birthday."

Wow, this tough-guy stuff really works.


Copyright 1999 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.