Lessons in Ruthlessness – How I Learned NOT to Be

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Charlie Chaplin said, “This is a ruthless world and one must be ruthless to cope with it.”  What do you think – is Charlie right?

A Ruthless Co-Worker

She was rude – she was obnoxious – she violated everyone’s privacy and she was the highest paid employee at the first dental office where I worked when I was eighteen years old.  This did not make for a great company culture or a nice employment experience. She could be cruel and was really great at snooping. I personally caught her going through the boss’s checkbook, stopped on the pages where our pay stubs clung.  And she was the best hygienist in town.  How do you as an 18-year old newbie dental assistant combat that?  You don’t and after 2.5 years, I called ti quits and took a job at a different dental office across town. I was not the only employee she drive away.

When I confronted her and asked her what she was doing in Dr. Miller’s checkbook, she told me he knew she was going through it and that it was none of my business.  I think I was paid roughly 1/8 of what she was paid.  I think I even dreamed about her throwing her head back and laughing wildly when she caught a glimpse of my pay stub.  It was a rough lesson for this new, real world adult and as a complete innocent? I wasn’t quite ready to deal with her shenanigans.

I Quit

When I gave my two weeks’ notice, I think I caught my boss’s eyes gloss over as he told me how much he had liked working with me and how he hoped his young daughter would grow up to be like me – this is the same guy who told me after one month of me working there that he would never hire an 18-year old again – I was too happy in the mornings.  If he could only see me now, ginormous coffee cup in hand as I conduct 6am phone calls with Paris, Montreal or the East Coast, while I rub the hard-earned sleep out of my eyes.  He was a favorite boss and I have often tried to find him on social media – no luck.

So… if you have heard of Roger A. Miller DDS, formerly of La Porte, Indiana who attended Indiana University Dental School, tell him Rayanne is looking for him.  He is no longer a dentist, having retired. But he followed his passion – basketball and became a basketball coach at the local junior high school while substitute teaching when he got the call.
Dentistry was just a job, but teaching and coaching were his passion.

On Becoming Ruthless

Along my way to full-blown adulthood, I have learned to manage fellow employees like this hygienist. When I look back on how young I was and what a horrible experience it had been, I realize how naive we are when we enter the workforce, how sheltered we are by parents or school, how ruthless the business world is when you are unaware or innocently ignorant to the brutality of experience and yes, hate. Some people just hate others and hate their jobs, so they take it out on anyone who gets in their way…

She got hers though – I heard that only one year after I left that she had been fired. And I actually felt bad for her – I guess that was my life lesson.
Sometimes life lessons in business just suck.  And sometimes, they stick with us for over thirty years because they have shaped who we are and how we treat our peers and fellow employees.

I don’t agree with Charlie Chaplin

I have never ascribed to ruthlessness – though I can guarantee it would have helped me many times over the last several years. I just couldn’t do it. I think what goes around comes around and I don’t prefer to ever be on the receiving end of ruthlessness.

One of my greatest life lessons, I learned on my own – it was in the power of giving – without the intent of receiving anything in return. The benefit was in my heart – not my wallet, my head – not the price of my car,  in wisdom gained – not the growth of my bank account… those secondary things came secondarily and were sweetly unexpected.
Gaining balance and then balancing the gain… Oh the joys still left to be found.

by Rayanne Thorn



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