Burning Bridges

  • Fire

It’s been almost a year since we moved into our mansion in Saratoga. During this time we have had three helpers who we thought we could have long-term engagements with. None of them lasted more than few weeks. All three can be stereotyped into a specific ethnicity and social class. But trust me, it goes far beyond ethnicity and class. The issue I am going to talk about is more ubiquitous than you think.

Let’s start with Joe (name is changed for obvious reasons). We bought our home on October 2, and were in an infinite loop of packing and procrastinating for a few days. On Saturday Oct. 12, Anjali bet me at 8:30 in the morning that I could not get a mover in half an hour. I called a few, and then at 8:40 a.m. I got a call that movers were already on their way to our home. I rushed to the ATM to get some cash and by 9:00 a.m. the packing and moving really started. There were some surprises in between, like the movers’ truck running out of battery energy, etc. But by 8:00 p.m. we were in our new home. And by 10:00 p.m. we could breathe. Well, the guy who had driven the moving truck was Joe. A well-mannered guy, but very poor in English skills.

We were impressed with his hard work. The next day some stuff was still left that needed to be moved into our new home, which was a townhouse. So Joe came along with his girlfriend. And the rest of our items was moved. But Anjali being as meticulous as she is about everything at home, realized that our piggy bank was missing. I did not think that was the case. She confronted him. He said he had no clue about it and I am sure he did not. The friend he hired to help, however, betrayed him, and Joe lost any future business from me.

Fast forward eight months: we wanted to get a lot of work done in our backyard. We found Rob (his real name changed here) on craigslist. He was very hardworking and did an awesome job. A few times over the course of his yard work he got his father and 16-year-old brother to help. Then a few days later we had our son’s birthday party. So Rob offered for his brother to help us. During the party, which was going on well, one of our friends gave a $100 gift card. A few hours later, Anjali being meticulous again, figured out that the gift card had disappeared. She wanted to confront Rob’s brother. I resisted at first, but then finally agreed. She confronted him, and he immediately denied knowing anything about the gift card. Then for some reason, Anjali asked him to take off his shoes. And lo and behold, there it was hidden in one of his socks. Subsequently Rob lost all future business with me, as well.

I could go on and on about experiences like this. For we have had similar episodes with employees in which they would burn bridges–especially important bridges–all for a short-term gain. At the same time there are employees who have been with my company for a long time and through thick and thin, and are reaping rewards and long-term gain.