Friday, May 31, 2013

Pearls Before Swine or the Potential Downside of Helping Someone Find Work

In future posts we are going to discuss ways that you, the working elite, can help your friends, the unemployed scum, find gainful employment.   But before we do so, we are going to have to discuss the possible downside of helping someone. Is there a possible downside?  Is it true that no good deed goes unpunished?

Mark Twain once told the following "joke":   Q. What is the difference between a starving man and a starving dog?   A. When you feed a starving dog he does not turn around and bite you.

At various times I have had the pleasure, or misfortune, of helping many, many people find gainful employment.   I think I have been so effective at it for several reasons including (a) the economy was different then, (b) the people I helped were earlier in their career, (c) there were less good people around who knew this kind of stuff (computers and media) back then, and (d) I am good at helping people find work.  But I stand before you today to testify that I have had cause to regret helping people get employment.

I think this is sad.  In all of the cases where this has happened, I had confidence in the individuals involved and wanted to help them get along in life and their career.   What were they thinking when they then turned on the person who helped them?   I believe that there are a variety of answers to this question including insanity, venality, and stupidity.

I also feel that there may be special problems in the field of computer animation and visual effects, particularly since it went 3D and digital in the early 1990s.   Some outside observers have noticed that the field does seem to be particularly made up of ambitious and narcissistic scumbags to an unusual degree.   This is of course rather different from the people who, for the most part, founded this field who both knew what a "zero-sum game" was and did not believe that they were playing one.  I once had an attorney tell me "Michael, we have to get you working with a better class of people ..."

But whatever the reasons may be, a thoughtful individual must ask themselves, what can one do to protect oneself against the behavior of these disloyal scum?  Along those lines, here is a lesson I learned from reading about the so-called Mafia in New York City.  The article was an interview with an anonymous FBI Agent about why the head of the Genovese family in NY, a fellow named Gigante, had not been convicted of a crime.   The FBI agent said that it was because "he had an amazing talent for picking loyal friends".

Gigante aka "Chin" was considered very talented at judging the character of his potential co-workers

So what can I learn from my experiences that I can pass on to you to help make you more successful and avoid some of the irritations and problems that I have caused myself through my own desire to help the downtrodden?

1. Ask yourself how well you know the potential recipient of your beneficence.   If not very well, then be sure to take hostages.  Usually a close family member or two will do.   First born son, favorite pet, that sort of thing.

2. If your management wants you to hire people, or to recommend them to be hired, agree to do so, but only if you have the right to fire them again if they do not work out in your sole judgment. Get this in writing.

3. If you start noticing aberrant or delusional behavior in the recipient of your goodwill, have the right to have them seek professional help, offsite, for several years, in a comfortable "therapy center".  A few years in a disease infected swamp in a country torn by civil strife and revolution would probably help the recipient of our good will build character.

4. Finally, if and when they try and stab you in the back, execute the hostages and have your friend conveniently disappear while you are home at dinner with your family. Be sure to remember the famous rules of thumb for such things: "no weapon, no motive, no body".

I would hope that anyone you helped would be loyal and not be like some of the crazy assholes I have had the misfortune of helping from time to time.  All of this and more leads to the following conclusion: helping someone is a tricky matter, discretion may be the better part of valor.

For more in formation on Vincent "Chin" Gigante, see: his wikipedia page.

Revised 7/2/2013
Revised 4/2/2014


  1. Being a person who travels through life trying to do no harm, my infrequent forays into doing some good are rewarding in that I feel better about myself afterwards. That alone is the best reward.
    Once it was disastrous for me for much of the same reasons as described in this blog, but more often the people while sometimes unable to return the favor(not expected) have been extremely kind in return to me. I remain grateful to the people who have helped me out.

    1. Dear Audri

      I agree with this completely. Sometimes it is just not possible to return the favor, circumstances being what they are. And sometimes it just takes so much longer than you ever would have thought. I personally enjoy(ed) helping people, in part because people used to help me out and their help was so very important to me. Back in the days when I had a career. The real moral of this story, not well articulated, is that if you help someone, do not expect anything in return and be sure it cannot backfire, and then by all means help people you like and believe in. Its up to you whether you think its appropriate to take hostages in any given case.