by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.
Author's program note. I keep a special box of heavy-duty tissues on hand for just this situation. A good friend of mine called yesterday and was low, low, low. Reason? He's just been given notice that his high and worthy services were no longer required; that he had reached the end of his road at Corporation X; that it was over, all over in fact, but the shouting and the obligatory "beat-it, maggot" luncheon with Mr. Big and all his minions; your best friends until the fatal moment of "parting is such sweet sorrow", now merely brown-nosing sycophants having trouble remembering "Who dat?" when the conversation turns to you, as it will do less and less, minute by minute. You are dead, so dead, deader by far than the proverbial door nail.
That's sad. But what's sadder is that you connived at your own demise, loading the gun, playing "Russian roulette" with 6 bullets loaded, not just one, determined to do yourself a mischief... You fought the law... and as that kick-me sign on your posterior gives ample proof... the law won. Adios. Vaya con dios, muchacho. Buena suerte, chump. And to think you did it to yourself!
"I Fought the Law".
In 1958 Sonny Curtis wrote a peppy little tune called "I Fought the Law". It was recorded in 1959 when he joined the Crickets after one of the saddest events in popular music history, "the day the music died", February 3, 1959; the day Buddy Holly ascended into eternal legend, eternal life, where the cats are always cool, the platters always hot, and the cutest girls always know your name and are always waiting by the phone for your call, ready to tell you what you've always wanted to hear. So it went for Buddy Holly. But not for Sonny Curtis and his squib.
The song made it onto the Crickets 1960 LP, "In Style with the Crickets", and the next year appeared on the b-side of their single, "A Sweet Love". There it died... for "I Fought the Law" never got any air time, not a minute. Even when Milwaukee's Paul Stefen and the Royal Lancers covered the song in 1962, the results were dismal. Schlitz made Milwaukee famous, not the Royal Lancers and their attempt to save the music. But the song which should by any logic at all have croaked, just wouldn't die, although those associated with it did.
In 1964, Sammy Masters recorded his version of the tune, but it didn't go anywhere either in what was becoming the musical equivalent of seeing who could pull Excalibur from the rock and so become the king. The next artist to try mouth-to-mouth was Bobby Fuller, a West Texas boy who in 1964 turned "Robbing people with a six gun" into attitude... and as every smooth operator knows, your attitude determines your altitude.
Fuller, more than just a pretty face, knew that timing was everything and so took advantage of the fact that both he and his tune had a pulse, then did what was necessary to switch to a major label -- Del-Fi Records itself under Mustang Records -- where he picked up three galoots named Randy Fuller, Jim Reese, and DeWayne Quirico, and a name in musical history, for at long last in 1965 the song soared... while Bobby Fuller, aged just 23, his song on the Billboard Top 100 chart, died; a victim of either suicide or murder, depending on how your tastes run.
Either way, it made the song, now seasoned with the lurid and macabre, hot, hot, hot... to the benefit of a group called The Clash. In 1979 they turned it into a song that made parents everywhere cringe, bemoaning the decline of civilization; the rise of "music" seasoned with an insistent, pulsating beat, produced by the Kremlin, then turned into fluridated water.
It was now a pot of gold and, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, one of the 500 "Songs that Shaped Rock". Go now to any search engine and be prepared to be 17 all over again, the master of every gyration and astonishing move.
Now let's make sure that any clash with your boss turns out as well...
Solving the problem is easiest when there is no problem to solve.
Consider this revolutionary idea: you don't just work for a company; more importantly you work for a boss; an individual who, to a considerable extent, has your future, good or bad, in his gift. If you make yourself useful... if you make yourself invaluable... if you make yourself indispensable, your future is as secure and assured as any future can be. Thus, ask yourself whether on your job today you did anything to help that all-important boss... or did you engage in the usual badinage at his expense, criticizing, carping, insinuating, belittling, denigrating, second guessing, under cutting, end running, deploring, dissing, in fact doing anything and everything that diminishes the boss while, of course, making you look marvelous.
In writing this, I am thinking of a person I know whose speciality is having the last word on any subject, making sure she emerges from any encounter with her know-it-all credentials firmly in place, the boss well and truly put in his.
It goes without saying that my acquaintance will be jobless sooner rather than later. Even without knowing her boss, I know enough about human nature to know that even at this moment he is considering how best to get rid of his (clueless) Nemesis. Every time she opens her capacious mouth, emitting another gratuitous and often insulting observation, the boss' schedule for getting rid of her advances. She talks. He hears. She affronts. He resolves. As Sherlock Holmes would say, the game's afoot!
But here's the rub, the minute the boss decides there is a game and that game involves getting rid of you, you're DOA, soon to find yourself in the queue for unemployment benefits. Is this really what you want? Is your need to diminish the boss such that you'd jeopardize your job and all its emoluments to do so? If so, consider this crucial insight from Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) the most influential political consultant ever, the most insightful and the most stylish in lace ruffles and tights.
In his renowned book "The Prince" he offered advice which every upwardly mobile power player forgets at her peril: "when you strike a king, you must kill him... or he will kill you." Indeed. The problem offers no easy solution. Kings are difficult to liquidate under usual circumstances; they have to make breathtaking errors usually involving, but never limited to animals, government charge accounts, sexual inversions, and flagrant outrages publicly known and deplored, the whole bolstered by e-mails frequent, revolting. disgusting, and so read with relish by all. If you don't have such evidence, you're certain to be the one that fights the law... and loses. Here's some good advice to forestall this looming tragedy and acute dislocation and loss.
1) Don't fight the boss. Become his chief (and in due course lavishly rewarded) aide de camp. You'll find the living is easier this way.
2) If you cannot rise to the eminence (and intelligence) of the point above, then you must learn (and learn fast) to cut your negative comments about your boss to the barest minimum.... NONE! Like your grandmother used to say, "If you cannot say something nice, say nothing at all."
3) Beware of your office "friends". Say nothing to them that you would not want to be printed on the front page of "The New York Times". Keep in mind that when telling gossip delivers more benefits than keeping you as a friend, that gossip will surely be reported, losing nothing (you may be sure) in the telling.
4) If you reach this point, you are, alas, incorrigible, in need of a major lecture on the desirability of clear thinking and self preservation. You need to be told, and at once, that you are well and truly on perdition's path, heading for trouble, and oceans of it. Then start revising your resume; your imminent ejection from your current job ensures you will be in the job market soonest.
5) Learn these lyrics,
"I miss my job and I feel so sad/ I guess my race is won/ Like it's the best job I ever had/ I fought the law and the law won/ I fought the law and the law won.
Now grab your spot in the best panhandling location and start warbling.
About the Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is the author of several print books, numerous ebooks, and over one thousand online articles.
Republished with author's permission by Digokgwe Mokone