Volume 38, Issue 2, February 2003


What Gives … ?
by Lyle R. Hill

What gives with these offers I keep getting from some company in California to become an advisory board member of their organization? According to the notices, all I gotta do is give them “two to three hours of telephone conferences per month” and I can earn in excess of $100,000 per year. They must think I’d really be good at this kind of work, because in spite of the fact that I keep ignoring their letters, they keep mailing them to me anyway. But wait … if their business involves telephone conferencing why don’t they just pick up the phone and CALL ME? What gives???

What gives with these ‘royals in exile’ from third-world countries that need my help to smuggle money out of their countries? According to the “highly confidential” letters and e-mails I get, all I have to do is open up a bank account for them where they can deposit $15 million to $20 million and once the money has properly cleared, they will take $12 million to $17 million of it for themselves and let me keep the other $3 million. Apparently, they think I’m the only guy in America capable of getting this done for them because they’ve been hounding me to do this for at least the last four years. By now, you would think that they would have tried somebody else … or maybe they have. What gives??? 

What gives with “J” … the person who keeps sending me unmarked envelopes with copies of articles in them for me to read? I get at least two of these a year … for more years than I can remember ... and they always have a yellow post-it note on them with a one-sentence remark, signed by J. The most recent one I received … about two weeks ago … had an article from Executive Focus entitled “How Top Executives Manage to ‘Do it All,’” and while I’m the first to admit that I don’t really know any real executives, the article was pretty good. The envelopes are usually postmarked from California. I really do appreciate receiving these, but who is J and why doesn’t he want to identify himself? What gives??? 

What gives with this sneaky new way of getting a price increase pushed through? It used to be that when a manufacturer or supplier needed to raise prices to cover their increased costs of doing business, they simply sent out a notice raising their prices. But now they’ve come up with a new scheme. Don’t call it a price increase … call it something much less ominous…call it an energy surcharge. And everybody’s doing it … sealant guys, hardware people ... even my paperboy. I remember a few years back when a certain supplier of ours always included the words FREE DELIVERY at the end of each quotation. Problem was, every one of their invoices had a line item billed out as TRANSPORTATION SURCHARGE. But in spite of the fact that this is an industry that’s always had a hard time dealing with the truth … what gives???

Now, dear reader, in closing … I have a favor to ask of you. You see, it’s late at night and the temperature here in Chicago has dropped below zero. I’ve had to turn the heat up (gas fired, forced air) and because I need to finish this article before I can go to bed, I also still have the light on (75 watt incandescent) … so now I’m going to ask you to give. Please put a dollar in a plain white envelope and mail it to me at your earliest opportunity … consider it an 
“energy surcharge.” And J … I’d appreciate it if you would put your name and return address on your envelope. 

So you see, the answer to “what gives?” is an easy one. It’s you … it always has been!!! 


HILL Lyle R. Hill 
is president of MTH 
Industries of Chicago.


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