In the early 1980's when I worked for The American Lutheran Church, my boss, the IT Director, made an annual pilgrimage. At the end of each fiscal year, he journeyed up two flights of stairs to a mahogany paneled board room where he pleaded for more computer equipment.
Every year the bishops listened politely before telling him that parishioners put money into the collection plate for good works, not computer equipment.
This was during an era when computers were big enough to fill a room and every time you got a bigger computer, you needed a bigger room.
My boss reminded the bishops of this and told them he believed so strongly in our need for more equipment that he was willing to sacrifice floor space from his personal office in order to expand the computer room.
Every year he got less than what he asked for - but every year he got more than what he expected, so each year his office got smaller.
The first year, his office shrank from spacious to less spacious. The next year, it was reduced to small. The year after that, to tiny. Finally he had to ask a carpenter to cut his desk in half in order to wedge it into a space no larger than a modest broom closet.
In fact his office became so small that he could barely fit into it. In order to stretch his legs, he had to open the door. If that were not enough - even the hallway outside his office shrank as racks of magnetic tape migrated out of the computer room and into the hall.
One day while seated in his tiny office, he received a call from a journalist who wanted to know how all that computer equipment was running.
“Not very well,” he told him.
“How so?” the reporter asked.
My boss unloaded.
At the time our mainframe was manufactured by Burroughs Corporation, a company run by bean-counters - and it showed.
Our computer crashed more often than Windows 0.1.
The journalist said he was writing a story on quality issues at Burroughs for The Wall Street Journal and asked to quote the conversation.
A week later a scathing article appeared in The Journal under a grainy sketch of my boss's smiling face.
It didn't take long for a delegation of dark blue suits to appear in our lobby. They told the receptionist they were senior executives from Burroughs Corporation and were anxious to speak with my boss.
When he went down to greet to them, the darkest, bluest, most expensive suit inquired if there was a room where they all could speak frankly.
My boss grinned. “Why yes there is,” he said, “we can use my office.”
For the next hour, he sat in his chair, legs sprawled into the hall while the executives in dark blue suits were squeezed cheek to jowl between racks of computer tape.
Needless to say, he chewed them out and when they boarded the plane to leave Minneapolis – you had to hope that they took a lesson in humility with them.
To be fair, they made things right.
So maybe they did.
This week’s writing challenge: write about humility.
- Write about learning and relearning the same blasted lesson in humility. (Note: this is a topic I am an expert in)
- Write about a humble person.
- Write about a person who could use a little humility.
- Write about a great boss. A humble person by definition.
Post your article to Gather Writing Essentials.
BE SURE TO TAG your submission with MWE. Note: I search for articles using the tag "MWE" If you don't tag it right, I will not find it.
- Include "Monday Writing Essential" in your title.
Last week the challenge was to write about walls and barriers.
Weekly reminder:don't forget to recommend an article that you like (to learn why, read Ann Marcaida's article Attract More Writers and Artists to Gather!).. Also try to place a comment on at least one article and say more than you liked the piece. Tell the author what worked and what needs work.