CRUDE VERSUS CRIMINAL

The current election has gotten me thinking about the kind of people I have worked for over the past 35 years.  By far the best clients to work for are kind, Christian, caring, people who always put their employees and customers before themselves. Most important they pay me on time.  Naturally you want to be around these people and look forward to working with them.  I never get tired of them telling me what a great analyst I am.

Not everyone is like that.  I can write about them now because they are dead, in jail, or put out to pasture in Florida.  My first experience with someone who was a sexually crude womanizer was with a vendor when I worked in a supermarket.   While his comments would make Donald Trump uncomfortable, he also did his job well.  He attracted the secretaries from all the law offices on the town square to come do their shopping on their coffee break.  When his truck pulled in the ladies would start streaming into the store.  He was good for business.   A crude womanizing vendor can be good for business.  But a criminal will burn down your store. I really liked that guy because he was honest, trust worthy, and he came to visit me after I was injured in an auto accident.

I’ve had clients, bosses and senior exec coworkers who were racist and crude.  Minorities had no chance of being hired.  Women were hired based on looks.  One client right in front of me told his secretary how much he liked seeing her in hooker high heels.  One client owned a strip club and offered to treat me to any service his girls provided.  I’ve had to sit on a corporate jet and endure “God d…. “ this and that.  I sat next to a big city former Democrat mayor on Amtrak who had been involved in a sex scandal.  He was quite open about the fun he had and used the N word.  We had a senor exec scheme with another senior exec to make sure an attractive female employee would be on a retailer cruise.  Once I heard a former CEO say we need to find at least one woman to be a VP, let’s put her in Human Resources where she can’t do harm.

A while back I was invited to dinner by a group of ethnic retailers.  Mostly second generation immigrant independents.  I must have heard the F word a thousand times that night.  Even from the moderator and in front of women.  Obviously this was culturally acceptable and I did not think less of them.  It was a brilliant group of retailers who had achieved the American dream.

The odd thing is, nearly all of these people were very good at their jobs.  They were very successful and effective people.  Most of the time they were very generous and fair.  It was easy to overlook their shortcomings because of all their strong attributes.

Then there were the criminals and scam artists.  Usually it involved things like bank fraud, money laundering, “food desert” opportunists trying to score government grants, investor fraud, theft, political bribery, bankruptcy scams to defraud wholesalers, vendors, and landlords, and check deception. 

My first job out of college was with FW Woolworth.  We had a store manager who furnished his home with unpaid merchandise.  We had an automotive manager arrested for selling oil and other parts out the back door to local mechanics.  Sales contests were rigged by having shills purchase high ticket items and then return them to the store we were competing with.

I’ve written about the “food desert” scams before.  The USDA could care less.  Those guys got away with it.  I think anytime you have a non-grocer with no experience trying to score other people’s money to open a store you are probably working with a criminal or an idiot.  I’ve had a congressman write me a bad check.  I’ve seen a retailer load up on merchandise, max out their credit, and then file bankruptcy.  We’ve had retailers acquire stores and then fail on purpose after milking the cash.  I’ve seen landlords stop paying their bills, fail, file bankruptcy and then buy back the repossessed property for pennies on the dollar with cash under a new name.  I had a boss who would want me to overstate sales projections.  Obviously he had something to gain by me doing that.  I had a boss once with multiple DUIs and then sued the company for being fired.  I had a coworker who I worked closely with embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Many of them went to prison.  Some keep inventing new schemes.  For the most part no one will do business with them or hire them.  I been deposed and interrogated by the FBI too many times to risk having a business relationship with them.  Sometimes when I see how many former clients and coworkers have been sent to Federal prison, I feel guilty by association. 

Bottom line is I’ll take crude over criminal every time.  Crude people can get things done, be successful, and pay their bills on time.  They might even make you money and help with your career.  They respect your opinion before making a large investment.  I find it easier to give them the benefit of the doubt.  Especially when they treat you like a friend.

Criminals screw up your life and cost you money.  They will ask you to lie and falsify your reports.  They don’t care about your opinion, they just want to use you to help scam others.  It all about them.  No one else matters.