Rocking The Boat

by : Wayne and Tamara

Direct Answers - Column for the week of April 5, 2004

I work in a factory, and we have supervisors who play favorites. They have about six girls who can do no wrong, and they have easier jobs than the rest of us. These girls go out after work to bars, and that is why they are in with the supervisors.

The boss over these supervisors will not do anything because his boss is the father of one of these supervisors. So long as "Daddy boss" is still there, this boss will not do anything to the supervisors. One girl played around and made the machinery malfunction for an operator, but she didn't get into trouble because of the favoritism.

Do we go to the owner of the company with a complaint on why these bosses will not fix this mess?


Carol, we will not tell you that you should go to the owner. What we will tell you is how this usually plays out.

Some things are worth doing because you feel they are the right thing to do, even when you know they will not succeed. As a rule, whistleblowers do not succeed. Complaining or whistleblowing makes you the problem, instead of the problem you are calling attention to.

Human beings are social animals, and family and social connections in the workplace usually count for more than merit or truth. Truth is very weak. There is nothing pushing it. It can't stand up to people pushing their own agenda.

The one place where truth, fact, and objectivity are supposed to rule is science, but even in science it is a problem. The physicist Max Planck once observed that an important scientific innovation is usually accepted not because people readily accept its truth, but because the older generation of opponents grows old and dies off.

Carol, you have three options: you can overlook the unfairness and become immune to it, you can seek other employment, or you can try to fix the problem. Fixing the problem is the solution least likely to occur. In all probability, your workplace is a boat the owner does not want rocked.

Wayne & Tamara

The Quality Of Mercy

I am Ali from Pakistan, and I need your help on a weird issue. First, let me tell you something about me. I am a student of information technology. I am not from a rich family, but our family is a respected one. When I turned 20, I left my family for studies in computer science. Okay, now here started the problem.

I used to use the Internet as a resource for knowledge, but two years ago I got free time and started chatting online. I am not very good talking to girls, at least maybe not to the sharp ones. I do not know the exact reason, but one can be that I am a little shy and can't talk the talk.

I met a girl online, and we shared a lot. At least, I did. But I lied to her. Out of nowhere, though, I was in love with her. I told her some mushy lines because it was hurting to think of her not in my life. Then I told her I lied to her. It was a difficult time because she was so angry, but I finally managed to get her mercy. Is she really okay with me? How do we go back to our old chat sessions we both used to enjoy?


Ali, Mark Twain said, "If you tell the truth, you don't have anything to remember." You also don't have anything to apologize for or explain away. You may have gained her mercy, but what is the quality of her mercy?

How do you go back to the old familiarity and trust, when that was interwoven with lies? You wonder how you would feel if she lied to you. Probably, you would still doubt her.