I go back to Newton’s third law, which states, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
I don’t claim to know much about Newton. I know a little about his three laws of movement. I know that, “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”
I know that life moves no matter what we think or want it to do. I know that people act and behave the way they do—and sometimes, I swear, I fully believe the reason why people behave the way they do is they’ve never felt the consequences for their behavior. Or with less polish; I truly believe that people act and speak the way they do because they’ve never been punched in the face.
More than a decade ago, I worked in a commercial office building near 34th street in the engineering department for a chief that was less than honest. He was not a good man, sneaky, would throw anyone under the bus, or if the world became too cold; this was the kind of man that would throw anyone in the fire just to keep him warm. This was him, by any means necessary.
He pulled a trick or two to get his way into the chief’s position.
He thought he could get away with anything because he knew one of the higher-ups—which is sort of the same thing as knowing low friends in high places.
Meanwhile, he worked crooked deals. He took money. He even took money or “Taxed” one of the newer security guards Christmas tips because he was “Too new” to receive anything from the tenants. He laughed and bragged abut this to a few people.
But out of the kindness of the chief’s heart (hopefully you can read the sarcasm here,) the so-called chief took money from his wallet because he felt bad (or so he said) and gave the security guard some money and said, “Here, that’s from my own pocket.”
But the money wasn’t from his own pocket. No, this was money from the several envelopes that went down to the main office and was supposed to be distributed to the entire security crew. Some tenants gave $20. Some gave $50 and some gave $100 to the guards.
There was not a lot of envelopes but there was enough for a good Christmas tip, say like close to $750 is what I was told. So when the chief offered the new guard $50 the whole idea seemed meaner than ever to me. So do the math on what the chief walked away with.
Eventually, this man thought too highly of himself. He overstepped and delivered an ultimatum for a chief/building manger position, which was not received. This way, he could pull a bigger salary and steal more.
Upper management called his bluff. The chief quit and went to another building; only, this time, he was not a chief engineer.
He was low-man in the ranking system, which was a tremendous blow to his ego.
Eventually and ultimately, this did not work out. My former boss kept in contact with his low friend in a high place and when a building opened up with a chief’s position, which might not have been intentionally open—but hey low people do low things to get what they want.
(or to get someone fired)
The company took this man back and gave him another building, which meant my former chief was back and trying to find his way back to his old building. By this time, I had respectfully moved up in my building. I was well-liked by the tenants. I was seen as a capable engineer and was placed in the “Acting” chief’s position because the actual chief was out on disability.
I was supposed to go on vacation, which would have left the building without anyone in charge.
My other engineer was too knew to know what to do in case of an emergency, in which case; the powers that be (AKA the low friend in a high position) agreed to allow me to go on vacation and have my former chief come back to baby sit. I will call him Carmine from now on. But keep in mind, names will be changed to protect the guilty and me from a lawsuit.
Carmine was not a good man. He was dishonest at best. He was sneaky and trying to find his way back to his position because there were tenants that were paying for things to Carmine in cash for services rendered by the building.
Carmine walked through the door and came in to intimidate me. He gave me his best, “I’m back,” smile.
But he was not my chief anymore and I was no longer afraid of him. Instead, I decided to openly tell Carmine where to go and how to get there. he screamed his demands, to which I replied, “Nope!”
He threatened and then proceeded to call his low friend in a high place, who in turn called me, which I in turn explained what I saw, what I knew, and what Carmine was doing in the building.
I will say the conversation went very smoothly on my end. Since nobody wanted any sort of internal investigation or to be brought up on charges, the tone I received was mainly apologetic as I was reminded by the higher up, “Hey man, I have a family to feed.”
To which I responded, “And I want them to be fed. I just don’t want Carmine around me.”
Since no one wanted this to come to light, Carmine was not coming to visit my building. However, I quit shortly after for a new position in another building. And Carmine did come back as chief. They fired the building manager so Carmine could work his magic again and steal more money and pay up to his friend at a higher level.
But every building needs a building manager. They hired a new man, younger, smart, but less experienced. Carmine, of course, in his infinite wisdom and pride thought anyone new would never pick up on Carmine’s little scams, which weren’t always so little.
Turns out, Carmine took on a big contracting job that would have re-carpeted an entire floor, which was more than 50,000sqft. Carmine took a down payment for the materials. He hired a few of the company’s laborer’s that handled in-house construction, so there really wasn’t any labor cost because he put their pay through the building’s budget and gave them overtime. The job was mostly profit.
Carmine’s profit that is.
The building manager caught wind of this. And perhaps some of my details might be slightly inaccurate—but not by much; however, when the building manager approached Carmine, in his own defense, Carmine explained, “Don’t worry. I put you down for $500. This is how e do things around here”
Meanwhile, Carmine was making a killing!
The building manager declined.
The next day Carmine was escorted out of the building and fired. I heard he was teary-eyed and weeping but tried to defy the new and much younger building manager during the escorting process. Carmine threatened, “I’ll be back in a week and this time I’m coming to take your job!” but that never happened.
Unless Carmine was stopped or called out, he would have kept going. He would have kept moving in whichever direction he chose.
Instead, Carmine’s movement was altered be an equal and alternate force.
In full disclosure, I did not like Carmine, which was fine because he did not like me either. He tried to rip me off a few times. Nearly got me fired once. But his trick didn’t work.
Keep in mind:
Something has to happen in order to create change; otherwise all else remains constant.
I think this is where Newton was coming from when he said an object in motion remains in motion and an object at rest remains at rest, unless altered by an external force.
Maybe he had a boss like Carmine that wouldn’t quit being an asshole until something happened. Or, maybe Newton had people in his life that were still or stagnant; they were stuck and wouldn’t move or act or do anything until something forced them to do so.
Therefore I say change is change is an action. And action needs fuel. As I see it, motivation is fuel. Inspiration is fuel. Empowerment is fuel. And so is encouragement. I see these things as powerful sources; however for every action there is an equal and adverse reaction—which means anger is a motivation too. So is fear. So is shame. So is guilt. And so is rejection, which all comes down to one thing.
Which fuel do we use to live our best life?
We are certainly welcome to use and nurture any of the mentioned sources; however, which source is our best source?
Now, I go back to my opening thought of Newton’s law.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
I had to learn a few lessons the hard way. I had to learn that regardless to what my intentions are; interpretations can and will frequently be different than my intention.
In business, I had to learn not to joke a certain way. I had to learn that just because someone nods, laughs, or acquiesces, this does not mean they like or appreciate the joke. This is where boundaries need to come in. Boundaries are important!
Also, sometimes we say things insensitively without meaning harm; however, our intentions mean nothing when our words are misinterpreted or simply, interpreted differently and seen as harmful. Put simpley, we have no control, over outcome or interpretation, which is why it is always best, especially in a professional setting to be mindful of how we speak to one another.
But more than words; actions speak louder than words. Actions can be dangerous.
I saw a fistfight the other day, which involved a good friend of mine. This was being broken up but the other person was punching while my friend was being held back. Had to stop this but in fairness, I am not a street fighter, nor a tough guy. Violence scares me because I was beaten up a lot when I was young, which is why I used violence in my previous life to protect myself.
I had to do what I had to do. I understand this. I had to stop this man from punching my friend, which I did—however, fear came over me, which ignited my rage, which fueled my old thoughts and concerns, which inevitably took me back to a person i never want to have to be in order to compete in this kind of situation.
I choked this man unconscious, which could have gone too far if the situation went differently. I understand I did what I had to do; however, this hurt me. I cried after (if you want to know the truth) because I don’t ever want to hurt anyone like that or be tied to anything violent.
I cried because I saw this man’s face when he lost consciousness. This was not pretty.
I did not like what I saw or felt. But this is good. This means my transformation is in fact, complete. I am nothing like that man I used to be. Nothing like him at all.
For every action, there is a reaction. I am fortunate for my lesson because I am reminded that sometimes we make a choice and because of our choice; we lose our say in what happens next.
I can choose what I do but I cannot choose how anyone else will respond. The man who created the fistfight learned the same lesson. He made a choice to act out, which was met be an equal and adverse response, which could have turned drastically wrong for everyone involved; including me.
I wish I could apologize to this man. But I can’t so I’ll put my apologies to the wind and say them here. I wonder what he was thinking before losing consciousness. I wonder if fear consumed him. I hope so because maybe this way he will learn.
As it is, the world has too many people like Carmine. I hope for this man’s sake; he learns and changes his way. And for me, I wept as I wrote this because I nearly created a horrible situation for myself.
Because for every action there is a reaction and I don’t ever want to have to pay for something tragic again.
Hey my man,
wherever you are. I am sorry. I did what I had to do. I just wish things could have been resolved differently . . .