Volume 44, Issue 11 - November 2009



Reality Check?
by Lyle R. Hill

“Hill,” the mid-morning caller began, “I think I finally got it.”

“OK,” I replied, recognizing the voice of Johnny “The Mooch” Rago, “and exactly what is this ‘it’ that you have finally acquired and why should I care?” 

“The ‘it’ is an idea that’s going to make us a lot of money, Hill. Jungle Jim and me got it all figured out. We even put together an outline and everything. This is gonna be huge, Hill.”

The Mooch and a petty thug by the name of “Jungle” Jim Bruney are the only guys from the old neighborhood who have stayed in touch. They are both dangerous, as much to themselves as to the general populace. But I am, in some strange way, actually fascinated by both of them. It is, however, a sure bet that any scheme or idea that they come up with will either be illogical, illegal or some combination of both.

“Mooch, I’m happy for you and Jungle Jim. I hope you make a ton of money and live happily ever after, but I want no part of it, so if that’s why you’re calling, forget it.”

“But Hill,” the Mooch whined, “we need ya to be our technical advisor.”

“Technical advisor for what?” I asked.

“For the show, Hill, for the show. You see we got it all figured out. We’re gonna do a reality TV thing based on the glass business. You know, these reality TV shows are really big right now, we gotta get going on this.”

“Mooch, it won’t fly. The glass business is boring. Nobody would watch a show about the kind of stuff we do in the glass industry.”

“Sure they will, ’cause we think we got a new twist to add to it. You know, something to make it a little more exciting. Besides, Hill, you don’t really think those reality TV things are legit do you? You know a lot of that stuff is staged. So we’ll add a few things to ours to spice it up a bit. Give it some drama so to speak.”

“And you want me for your technical advisor?”

“Yeah, cause Jungle Jim and me we don’t really know much about the glass business except for what we read in those wacky articles you write. What do you say, Hill? Are you in or not?”

“I think my answer is ‘not,’ but tell me about this drama you want to add.”

“OK, Hill, here’s the plot. You know how gangster stuff is kinda in … you know, like ‘The Sopranos’ and all. Well, we’re gonna borrow a little from them and mix it in with your boring stuff and call it something like ‘Cut And Run’ or ‘Leaded Glass’ or ‘Crushed Glass’ or, my personal favorite, ‘Panes of Pain.’”

“I’m sorry, Mooch, but I don’t get it.”

“OK, Hill, let me be a little more vivid for ya. In our TV series, the star, an owner of a glass company, is a poor, dumpy little guy who’s struggling to get by and everybody is kinda always dumping on him. You know, suppliers mess him up, the union hassles him, the contractors are always stiffing him and so forth and so on. Well in our show, the poor glass slob has a brother who’s one of ‘da’ boys … you know, like one of the family-kinda boys. So behind the scenes he starts helpin’ his little dufus brother who owns the glass shop.”

“I like the concept, Mooch, but I don’t get the storyline.”

“All right, Hill, let’s suppose a supplier lies to the glass guy and instead of shipping when he’s supposed to he ships a month late and all the stuff is wrong. Well, the glass guy’s big brother pays Mr. Supplier a little visit and let us just say that some justice is delivered to said supplier … if ya know what I mean. Or perhaps some ding-bat architect prepares some really lousy drawings that are unbelievably messed up, but upon which the glass guy must prepare a fixed-amount quote … glass guy’s brother pays Mr. Architect a little call and while Mr. Architect is recovering from a couple of broken legs, maybe he’ll have a little more time to do a better job on those drawings. Each episode would feature the glass guy getting pushed around and taken advantage of, but in the end the guy who dumped on the glass guy gets his due from glass guy’s tough stud brother. People love that kinda stuff … you know, where the dirt ball gets what’s coming.”

“I think I get the picture, Mooch, but does anything ever get better for the glass guy or does he just continue to get dumped on by everybody?”

“No Hill, nothing ever changes for the glass guy. It is his destiny to get pushed around and to be taken advantage of week after week. He works too many hours, has little to show for it and rarely has a full night’s sleep because he’s kept awake worrying about how he’s going to survive in an industry that is so self-destructive. So Hill, what do you think? Are we on to something or not?”

“Mooch, the tough-guy-brother bit is a little far fetched, but you have discovered one thing as far as glass guys go.”

“What Hill ... what have we discovered?”

“Reality, Mooch, reality.”


Lyle R. Hill is president of MTH Industries of Chicago. Mr. Hill’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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