After eight long years, Herb graduated from Edinburg Junior High School and received a diploma signed by the principal, Harmon L. McClellan, and the superintendent of schools, Dr. Ohland Morton. Several of those years also involved studying college-level chemistry on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights around the kitchen table. Most of his fellow graduates were excited to be graduating. Herb skipped the ceremony. That was a chemistry class night. It became an important date in his professional career. All the while Herb worked for Corporate America, with titles such as Director of Research and Development, the only diploma he ever displayed was that Junior High School Diploma.
His reasoning was that he wanted to be able to talk with those whose major business asset was their 10-year-old pickup truck. If engineers and architects could not see that he was qualified, that was their problem; however, his failure to display a diploma indicating that he had earned a higher degree was a grievous failure and cost an executive his job.
Joe (name changed to protect the guilty) worked in the central office, and a decision was made that he should be groomed to become an executive. He was transferred to several jobs and had an excellent record. Then he was sent to San Antonio as store manager to get some field experience. While Herb reported to the president of the company, Joe reported to a vice president. Neither worked for the other. Joe had been in Herb’s office and had seen his diploma. He had also seen the human resources people bring new employees past to look at the brass plate on Herb’s door and the diploma on his office wall. The new employees were told that if they worked hard, there was on limit as to how far they could rise in the company.
At a managers’ meeting, with twenty-two managers present, Joe told the Chairman of the Board that Herb was not qualified for the job that he held and that sooner or later, Herb was going to cost the company a major amount of money.
It was almost as if he had read Somerset Maugham’s short story, “The Verger,” and was modifying it to suit his needs. “Understand me, I have no complaint to make against Herb. His work is quite satisfactory; but we haven’t the right to take the risk of some accident that might happen owing to his lamentable ignorance. It’s a matter of prudence as well as of principle.”
He proposed that if Herb were placed under him, he would catch mistakes which Herb would make and thus save the company millions of dollars.
The other twenty managers in the room were appalled and could not believe what Joe was doing. Herb made no attempt to defend his competency, but just sat back and listened.
The Chairman encouraged the store manager to express his ideas and then said, “I suggest you call Herb by his proper name from now on.”
Joe asked, “What is his proper name?”
The Chairman responded, “For you it is Dr. Nordmeyer.”
In the process Herb made an enemy. Joe blamed Herb for setting him up to look bad in front of the Chairman. In a few months an opening came in a less-than-desirable job, and Joe was told that he was being transferred to take that job. Joe ended up quitting and, for at least a year, continued to blame Herb for setting him up.
No matter what your reasons are for doing something, there are some who will not investigate the facts and will try to twist them to satisfy their greed.
After the meeting was over few, if any, of the other managers who had been in the room kept quiet about what Joe had done and most of them shared stories about how Herb had supported them at some point in the past.
Herb did have to correct a number of them by saying, “My name is Herb, not Dr. Nordmeyer.”