Hard Work Makes Friends and Enemies
If idiots in positions of authority annoy you, it could be your I-Boss
is holding you back from hard work. To my credit, I have always been
a dedicated, hard worker. Ever since my first job as the pro shop boy
at the Newton, Iowa Country Club (I’ve been paying income taxes
every year since the age of 11), I’ve felt, if I must work, I should get
into it so intensely that when I come up for air, it will be quitting time.
It’s hard for me to take a breather and then dive back into something
with the same intensity I had before I took the break. Like a helpful
and positive attitude, I’ve found that working hard benefits me as well
as my employees. Hard Work Makes Friends and Enemies
I moved to California in 1977 and went to work as a union audio
and lighting technician at Disneyland. It wasn’t long before my work
habits attracted some attention. One day I was on a crew of three or
four, unloading sound equipment from a truck. Big Mike, the union
boss, joked with several of the other fellows I was working like a human
forklift. He suggested a couple of times that I should slow down
before I blew a gasket. I chuckled with them and worked on until I
felt a sharp tug on my arm. I had a microphone stand in each hand.
“Put those down,” Big Mike grumbled. I could see by the veins bulging
from his neck that he wasn’t joking anymore. I must have looked
at him funny because he said it again, louder.
I set the microphone stands down and reached for some more
gear on the truck. He grabbed my arm harder and swung me around.
I was about to apologize for not working hard enough when he said,
“Stand over there against the wall.” I began to suspect my befuddled
expression didn’t please him as he shoved me against the wall. “You
watch from right there,” he growled. “Don’t let me see you touch
It was one of the most excruciating experiences I’ve ever endured.
Every synapse in my nervous system was firing, trying to get back into
the unloading process. But I stayed put. The other stagehands kept
doing their thing and I watched them helplessly as Big Mike watched
me. When the truck was finally unloaded, he gave me permission to
move. “Next time I tell you to slow down,” he snarled menacingly,
With that, he stomped off toward the commissary. The other guys
turned and walked away, too. I remembered Big Mike hinting I should
slow down a couple of times before, but I thought he was making a
joke. After all, there was no reason for him to be concerned about my
health. In the locker room later that day, one of the other guys expressed
his displeasure that I had made them look bad by working so
fast and left them unloading the truck shorthanded while Big Mike
had me pinned to the wall. I was nicknamed the human forklift, which
was not a term of endearment at the union hall.
Not long thereafter, Bob, the management guy came backstage
between shows and took me by the arm. “Come with me, John,” he
said. “I want to talk to you.” I was sure he going to fire me for slowing
down on the job, even though I only did it when Big Mike was around.
“I’ve been watching you and asking around,” he went on.
“Here it comes,” I thought to myself.
“We want you to head up a new department that will bring the
union technicians under the jurisdiction of the Entertainment Division.”
“What the…?” I thought. The International Alliance of Theatrical
Stage Employees personnel had been part of the Maintenance
Division since Walt opened Disneyland in 1955. Here it was 1978 and
they wanted me to team up with another person and effect one of the
biggest organizational changes in the park’s history. I was to be in
charge of audio, and an engineer from WED (the Disney design firm
in Glendale named after Walter Elias Disney), was to be in charge of
theatrical lighting. I thought this was all good and couldn’t understand
why the union guys weren’t happy. After all, I couldn’t pick up
From: 30 How to Work For an Idiot