Sunday, September 18, 2011

Never Judge a Book by Its Cover

Ancient folklore and popular culture are filled with the threads of various morality tales; treat others as you wish to be treated; you reap what you sew; a winner never quits and a quitter never wins. While trite and cumbersome, these themes weave together the moral fabric of humanity. But my favorite has to be, never judge a book by its cover. In this age of self indulgence and gratification, we have forgotten this. With big industry using every ploy to get us to purchase their products, with Hollywood intoxicating the public on violence and sex, with politicians willing to pander to the current movement in order to maintain power, we have absolutely forgotten. We are told non-stop that appearance is of the utmost importance while at the same time the fundamental truths we have so long held to be self evident are putrefied. I mourn for honor, I mourn for truth, I mourn for our values. But, I am a hypocrite, as we are, all of us, if we can bare to be honest.

I was a fairly young engineer, perhaps five years into my career after graduating. My supervisor came to me one day with some interesting news.

"Shane, your peers have nominated you for Engineering Honors within the company," he said.

I was overjoyed. Recognition from management is great. It comes with increased pay and promotion, but this kind of award is something different. This kind says that people just like you see your potential. Needless-to-say, I was ecstatic.

"Thanks, Eric," I said. "That's a great honor, when do they let everyone know who receives the award?"

"Well, nomination by your peers is only the first step. The next step is review by management," he said. I knew management would have to put their stamp on it one way or another. " Part of this process is a dinner all the nominees attend."

I worked for a large company of about twenty thousand employees.  Around one percent (200) of the employees would get nominated for honors and attend this dinner. I look back on it now and laugh at the entire idea, but at the time, I was as happy as a pig in slop.

"Is there anything I can do to get noticed?" I asked my boss.

"Just be yourself. You'll do great."

Now, I'm pretty much a technical guy. I don't get off on politics or go for gossip around the water cooler. Apparently, if you want to climb the corporate ladder, you have to at least pay attention to these things.

On a side note: My sister just released a blog 'getting me back' for posting a video of her being pushed out of a cow in the midst of birth. Her biological mother was a cow after all. Nice job with the video, Elisa, but I have to say Cade in the monkey mask stole he show.

One, Two, Three, Four, I Declare a Blog War

Monkey Man

Today's post topic is actually inspired by Elisa, because as I have mentioned before, her poor readers have been duped. She continually puts up these model-esque images of herself and Cade. Well Cade, now there's a man's man, but Elisa, Elisa, Elisa, it is time to come clean. Put down the photoshop editing tools and come into the politically correct 21st century. To help you I am posting the following picture to spur on catharsis.


Now back to my story.

My wife and I went to the dinner, dressed to the nines. Both of us were excited, it wasn't every day we had the chance to go out together to something really fancy. Besides, we were anxious to lay the ground work to win. There were steep odds against us, but you have to try your best.

The night went pretty well, considering the people. Making small talk with a room full of engineers is like trying to squeeze blood for an orange. One guy in particular took me totally off guard. He walked up to me out of nowhere.

"Hi, how are you doing," he asked. He was short with a big nose and a shabby looking suit.

"I'm good, how are you?" I replied. Inside I was thinking, who is this guy and why is he talking to me.

"What do you do around here?"

"Controls work, developing algorithms," I answered curtly. I wanted this guy gone, I didn't need to look at this guys name tag to know I had better people to talk with. "What do you do here?" I asked in return.

"Oh, a little of this and a little of that," he said. "Well, have a nice night." Shorty walked off and I was happy to see him go.

The next day at work I saw my boss Eric again.

"So, how did it go?" He asked.

"Pretty good. I didn't really meet anyone interesting," I said.

"Shoot, that's too bad. I really thought you had a chance," Eric said.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"I heard the Vice President of Engineering for the whole company, not just our division, was there," my boss said. The whole company contained 80,000 employees, putting about 60,000 employees under him. "He was checking out the short list of engineers last night himself. I thought he might have talked to you."

I frowned. "No, I didn't meet anyone like that," I said, devastated.

"Well, I hear they had a photographer there. You should check the website to see if they happened to get a nice picture of you and your wife," he informed me.

"Okay, thanks Eric," I said.

Later that day I checked the company website. I scrolled through the photos and there did happen to be one of my wife and I, but then it was taken while we were talking to the shabbily dressed short man. The one good thing that could have come out of the evening and the same guy had ruined it. That's when I saw a caption for the photo. It read, "Vice President of Engineering from corporate talks to engineer." I nearly died. I had been rude to a VP even though he had taken the time to talk to me.

In the end the event has made little difference in my life given the importance I give work vs. family, but it was a good lesson to learn. Despite what movies say, or politicians, or pharmaceutical companies, don't judge a book by its cover.


  1. Is that the best you could do in the way of retaliation--doctoring her picture so she'd look more like you?

  2. Fish Ducky, thank you for the comment. I may have committed literary suicide without it. BTW, I didn't doctor the image. That is the real deal, Elisa au naturale.

  3. I really liked your story Shane about not judging a book by it's cover. That has always been a mantra of mine. I think Elisa will agree with me that you are a great person. Kind heart.

  4. Those rollers look so small next to my real face LOL!

    On a side (non-warring) note: I really enjoyed this story. Now I may have to go easy on you.

  5. Bravo Shane! Even as Elisa's friend I can appreciate what you did here. Well done. However monkey man come clean we both know you just put on a suite and rolled your hair to impersonate her. lol


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