The Sinister "Deal Table": A Year's-end Literary Curiosity

Posted by jlubans on December 19, 2022  •  Leave comment (0)

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My first literary curiosity in this series was The Nimble Fat Man.
Now I descend to a new level, about table height: The infamous and nefarious “deal table.
In thriller fiction – especially among the British - the villains invariably gather around a deal table to hatch out their next dastardly deed.
I have long wondered what such an item of furniture might be. Was it a gaming table around which outlaws dealt out cards to while away the hours?
Nope.
Deal is a cheap wood, like fir or spruce.
As depicted, it is often dented, flawed, begrimed, and banged up. To further the image we can add (and the authors often do) a threadbare carpet on which the table totters.
Here are a few uses taken from popular fiction:
The room “was meagre and stale-smelling, with bare floor and stained and sagging wall-paper; unfurnished save for a battered deal table and some chairs. He sank into one of them and stared ….”
The “house was plainly furnished , and on the bare deal table Connor had set his whisky down whilst he peered through the rain - blurred windows at the streaming streets.”
She “struck a match, and found part of a bougie (a candle, not a member of the bourgeoisie) stuck in the mouth of an absinthe bottle, resting on a rough deal table.”
“On one side of the deal table stood Gurther, white as death, his round eyes red with rage.”
"Down those stairs!" he said, and the murderer obeyed. They were in the kitchen now, and again the bright light gleamed ... There was a gas bracket in the centre over a large deal table ….”
“(A)nd a deal table in the middle of the room. Upon this was stretched the body of a motionless man.”

Next up: An elaboration on this comforting quote from R. Austin Freeman published in the 1940s:
“God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.”

My book, Fables for Leaders – full of literary curiosities and a deal table or two, is available. Click on the image and order up!

And, don’t forget Lubans' book on democratic workplaces, Leading from the Middle
© Copyright text by John Lubans 2022

Lubans’ Fable of the “Ugly” Christmas Ornament

Posted by jlubans on December 06, 2022  •  Leave comment (0)

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Early on as a parent, one Mother prided herself on her blunt honesty.
The Mother recalled how she had been “built up” and then disappointed by lies about Santa Claus and other myths and beliefs encouraged by adults.
Out of an abundant love, she was not going to do that.
One day the Mother’s little girl came home with a hand-made Christmas ornament. The Mother – keeping her vow not to lie – told her daughter that she obviously had made a good effort, but, well, the ornament was kind of ugly.
The little girl was crushed but understood, sort of. She put away the ornament.
Over time the ornament was lost.
Decades later, the Mother sadly told the daughter how much she regretted calling her ornament ugly and how she wished it had not been lost.
The little girl, now a parent with children, consoled her Mother, telling her she knew she loved her.
Sometimes it is best to say nothing regardless of one’s personal philosophy. And, a dear friend advises: "If something is made with love, it is always beautiful."

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Caption: Speaking of ugly, but I do like what's in Homer's bag!

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My book, Fables for Leaders - many of which are guides to getting by - is available. Click on the image and order up in time for Christmas!

And, don’t forget Lubans' book on democratic workplaces, Leading from the Middle
© Copyright text by John Lubans 2022

More Canine, Less Feline

Posted by jlubans on December 01, 2022  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption. Bridger doing her job. (Author photograph)

During the week when many Americans offer thanks, the WSJ ran an article, “In Praise of the Office Suck-Up”.
It explains the role and rationale behind the ubiquitous kiss-uppers, sychophants, grovelers, fawners and flunkies on display in the workplace/classroom.
Maybe you’ve engaged in some sucking-up of your own?
Now, calling someone a suck-up – defined as a person who flatters another in order to get ahead - is not going to win you friends, so just plug it into your silent workplace taxonomy.
You may recall Robert Kelly grouped followers into categories: the Alienated, Stars, Survivors, Sheep and Yes-Men. The suck-up is Kelly’s Yes-Man.
Unlike Sheep, Yes-Men are less dependent-minded and more able to think for themselves.
Probably the key to why Yes-Men get promoted, is that they are active – they make things happen - even if only to please the leader.
When a boss can rely on a suck-up to carry out his directive, he takes notice.
So, when promotions and pay raises come around, guess who’s top-of-mind?
Suck-ups are not going away, even if we profess disdain; they exist in every social group. Indeed, one psychologist claims: “The reason we don’t like suck-ups is because we’re suck-ups” ! (Emphasis added.)
Interestingly, in studies of organizational dynamics, a group that has a balance of suck-ups and regular folks, gets more stuff done than groups that are all suck-ups. (They spent too much time battling for the boss’s favor instead of getting the job done.)
When there are too few suck-ups, the team may not communicate enough with the boss and may result in the team’s not getting necessary resources.
We all know intuitively that people – including ourselves - like to be complimented about their bright ideas and accomplishments. The boss is no different.
The person we regard as a shameless toady, the boss may see as someone supportive of her initiatives to improve the workplace.
While we believe the flatterer is only “in-it-for-himself”, the boss regards as an ally who takes positive action.
Don’t we all want to move up, get rewarded, be recognized, and achieve personal goals? We don’t want to be overlooked, do we?
There’s nothing particularly sinister in ambition and in recognizing you will need help from others to get where you want to be.
Someone who never offers praise may be short on social skills or envious.
Praising and supporting should be part of how you behave at work – praise those due praise.
Don’t over-do but don’t resent anyone other than yourself being praised.
It’s a matter or degree. If your praise-giving is syrupy and exaggerated, it’s not going to earn you any points.
If you do not routinely blow your horn or sing your praises, what can we learn from those who are masters at sucking-up?
If you are more like a cat (aloof, circumspect) you could turn to man’s best friend for some clues on how to gain recognition and ingratiation.
First, no faking. If you have to lie to suck-up, don’t.
A Dog is sincere; none of what she does is a connivance.
A Dog listens; he will sit with you for hours while you cogitate and talk to yourself.
A Dog doesn't hold grudges nor engage in gossip.
A Dog expects the best from you; she has high expectations. You should too.
A Dog jumps for joy when happy, he greets enthusiastically.
A Dog accepts himself, no imposturing.
A Dog is loyal and dependable.
A Dog plays every day, she takes joy in play. Play is his/her job, so to speak. Leading you on a walk is in the job description and she does it with zest.
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My book, Fables for Leaders, many of which illustrate dog wisdom, is available. Click on the image and order up in time for Christmas!

And, don’t forget Lubans' book on democratic workplaces, Leading from the Middle
© Copyright text and photo by John Lubans 2022