Your Business


Thankfully, other diners were scarce that night at the small southern country club.

Leaning across the table was Junior, a stylish young man about town, and next to him was his carefully groomed wife, Miss Betty. Junior had just returned from a month long African safari, but he had found time to talk to John, whom his father, the chairman of the board, was about to hire as president of his company. John and his wife were in town for the formal signing of his employment agreement the next morning, and John had requested that he and Junior meet tonight for the first time.

John, I expect to have a written summary of your weeks activities on my desk by nine oclock every Monday morning, Junior said. John, who was slated to become Juniors boss, had not anticipated this. Up to now, Junior had been mostly interested in spending his fathers money. He had shown no concern for the business, although his name was on the organization chart as a vice president, and he did have a desk somewhere.

Juniors father, Lee, had long known and respected John. His business was growing rapidly, and Lee, a self-made man with limited education, now needed Johns background and experience to go forward. He had courted John for months, offering him prestige, a hefty increase in compensation and personal use of the company plane.

Youll have to check with me about the plane; Miss Betty and I might need it, Junior continued. John suddenly lost his appetite. The plane wasnt important, but this conflict was unexpected. Lee had said that John would have complete authority, regardless of family ties.

The evening finally ended, and John and his wife drove silently back to their hotel, where John tossed and turned all night. What should he do? He had committed himself to Lee, who was depending on him, but could he live with Junior?

The next morning, Lee was almost giddy. The time had come to formalize, and his lawyers had laid the papers out on a conference table for signature. Junior was nowhere to be seen.

John hesitated as he entered the room. He knew what he had to say. I just cant do it, he finally blurted out. The lawyers looked up, and Lees smile faded: You what? Why? I just cant do it, John repeated. He couldnt tell Lee why; there was no way he could explain a problem with a son to his father.

John and his wife left quickly, saying very little on their flight home, but certain that the right decision had been made.

An historical note: During the next few years, Lee went public but got into trouble when he continued some of his old private- company practices. The local district attorney sensed useful publicity and saw to it that Lee was sent to prison for mail fraud – kiting checks through distant banks. The company declared bankruptcy and eventually ceased to operate. Junior made no more African safaris, and Miss Betty became known simply as Betty.

Thanks, Junior

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