Friday, September 5, 2008

Paybacks are Hell

Have you ever heard of a kangaroo court? In a kangaroo court, you have been tried, judged, and sentenced before you have even had an opportunity to defend yourself. That is what happened to me on a beautiful sunny Tuesday afternoon. The company I worked for covered independent insurance assessments for corporations and large businesses. I found myself facing the entire board of the company and being put on probation for failure to cooperate with my boss and with her decisions.

I had been given a head's up by one of the members of the board, Marilyn; probably because she liked me, but, I think, also because she is a fair soul. Yet, I was still grossly unprepared for the mockery that was to unfold before me. My boss, Lisa 'The Fox' LaCour, had sold me down the river to protect her own lily-white ass. She had, by her passivity, lied about my work; and she had set me up, so that she could move upwards to a bigger and better salary. It was all about the money. I guess it had not helped that I had called her hand on several unethical and illegal deals she had maneuvered; but still, I had not betrayed her. No, rather I had challenged her and cautioned her that she would have to face the repercussions on her own.

Fool, fool, that I was, I should have known that if she would be unethical in one aspect of her life, she would be in all. I looked around the table at the critical unrelenting faces of those board members, and I realized that she had played this hand exactly as she had planned. Whenever one of them challenged me, she hung her head as if ashamed of me. She had spread her lies by innuendo; and later, when questioned about their validity, she had remained mute as though she did not want to condemn me. She never looked me in the eye. I saw that it was pointless to defend myself, so I did not even try. Silently, I vowed that I would not get mad. No, I would get even. I determined then and there to bring her down. As I left the meeting, I passed her chair and "accidentally" dropped my pen beside her chair.

"Lisa, paybacks are hell," I whispered. I was delighted to see her startled jump, and I walked out of that meeting with my head held high and a spring in my step. I walked directly to my office, typed out my resignation; and carried it back to the board, before they could disband.

"You don't have to do this," Marilyn said sadly. "I'm sure this will sort itself out."

I looked at Lisa and willed her to look me in the eye. I stared for what seemed a long time, until the other board members began to look at her, too. She had no option but to meet my gaze.

"Oh, but I do have to do this. Right, Lisa? It's not safe for me here anymore. Right, Lisa?"

Her blush began at her throat and moved its way upwards, until her entire face was suffused with a pulsing red. She did not say a word.

I smiled at her with an intent she could not mistake. I looked down at the rapid flutter in her throat. She was suddenly afraid, afraid of what I might do.

"I think we understand one another. Don't we, Lisa?"

Then, I left. I left hoping she would worry, at least for the moment; yet also confident that in her arrogance, she would soon forget my words. I wanted her to learn the simple, undiluted truth of that old axiom: paybacks are hell.