Old Money and Integrity

I received an email recently from a young man in Chicago. It reads, in part, as follows:

I landed my dream job, right out of college. I’d just sprung for a new wardrobe, a new apartment, and a new (used) car. Still dealing with the student debt. I was really, really excited until, six weeks into it my boss hands off some new clients to me.

After an initial meeting with them, I knew they were less than reputable and possibly not ‘legit’ at all. You see these things in the movies and on TV and you laugh. You sit across the table from them in real life, and you want to take a shower. 

I went to a colleague close to my age and asked him what was up. His reply was, Business is business. That hardly won me over. I went to a woman, an exec who’d been kind of a mentor to me in college even though I never worked in her company. She was not surprised, but not much more helpful. You’re lucky you got hit with this now, she said. And not when you’ve got two kids and a mortgage. Then she told me it was my decision.

Lucky or not, I had the whole weekend to think about nothing else. I just looked at my closet full of new clothes, the flat screen on the wall. Great, I thought. Just great. 

Monday morning I went to work early and caught my boss before the day started. I told him my dilemma. He basically stated his position: when you’re starting out, and your boss hands you a client, you work with that client. You don’t have much of a choice. 

I can’t do that. I heard those words pop out of my mouth. I was scared, and I really felt sick. I don’t recall the rest of the conversation, but the sum total of it was that I was leaving the company. 

Long story short, I went to work for the lady who’d kind of mentored me before. I make less money. It’s not my dream job, but I’ve still got my self respect. 

To which I say: Good for you, sir.

  • BGT


6 thoughts on “Old Money and Integrity

  1. Hi Byron. Yes, I say the same as you. Dignity and self-respect outweigh a flat screen any day. I have my own similar story, and I left the company. I was a single woman with a mortgage. I found another job and recovered fairly quickly, and so will this young man. Good for him.

  2. Hello Byron,

    To the chap in the story you have related I say, ‘ Well Done, and take comfort from the fact that you are not alone’. I know of someone who recently walked away from a job which had truly exceptional benefits and conditions because he didn’t like the way they were prepared to sacrifice professionalism when it was convenient. In short, he was not prepared to trade his integrity.

    Why was he able to do that when he has a wife, a son at a private school, a house, two dogs and two cars ? Because through his upbringing and his own hard work and study he ensured that he was beholden to no one. No purchases that cannot be afforded in cash and no debts like dark clouds on the horizon . Better than average qualifications because they give one options.

    I reminded him that he had engineered himself into a position where he had choices. I added that he might not even be aware that the entire psychology of people in his position is different and it is almost subliminally exuded to others. It is not arrogance. It is a subconscious confidence. It also says ‘ I am not enslaved’. His reply ? ” I didn’t even think of it that way “.

    I concluded by saying that his obligation was to teach his son the same lessons and quietly keep the wheel turning.

    Thank you for sharing this gentleman’s story. His obligation is to share his own lesson with another.


  3. I just have one thing to say, as someone who is old enough to be the Father of the young man in the story. “I am proud of you.”

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