Last Friday, at the very end of the day, we fired the General Manager of one of our divisions. K. Kalani is Hawaiian, which may explain why he seldom seemed ruffled by poor results. When he made it clear that he had no obvious solutions to the issues that plagued his division and no reasonable expectation of a quick turn-around, our considerably more intense and less patient CEO, the Man from Glad, let him go. If you don’t have a solution, you are the problem. The firing occurred last Friday, well after hours, long after all the other employees left the building.
Sometimes, on my walk from the parking lot to my office, I take a detour through shipping. I enjoy counting trucks (my simplistic early morning proxy for sales). And I enjoy listening to the truck drivers talk. Somehow they get scoops and, sometimes, they have insights that we… uh… less mobile types miss. So I stand behind the counter and shuffle papers that mean little to me so that I can blend in. And I listen.
It’s 7:00 a.m. Monday morning. The early worms have already succumbed to those conscientious greenfinches and blackcaps that have been up since well before dawn. Someone notices the success of those early birds and writes an adage.
News clearly travels at the speed of sound.
The truckers are in no hurry because we provide coffee and doughnuts. We have facilities and are generous listeners. One of these truckers – by his looks and gravelly voice, a card-carrying member of the Duck Dynasty clan – inadvertently let the counter staff in on a scoop. “So,” he bellowed, “I see you guys dumped the Chinaman.”
Putting aside his inelegant and ignorant dispatch from the front, it astonished me that he could have known about Kalani before anyone else. News clearly travels at the speed of sound. How are truck drivers so tapped in? Of course, the sun does not set on news. And the week-end is no barrier to communications. But the truth is, even I did not know what happened, only that it was likely.
The counter staff looked at me strangely. I barely looked up, though the more attentive among them might have detected a slightly arched eyebrow. I never realized how interesting Bills of Lading could be.
Circumstances alter cases, but my approach in such instances is generally this: See everything. Overlook most things. Say nothing.
Astonished though I may have been so early in the day, I did all three.