Thirty years ago, I was a wet-behind-the-ears young industrial engineer working at General Dynamics. The production line had been shut down a couple of times in the past few months and I was sent to investigate. I met with the division manager and he told me that  they had run out of material X, a small amount of which was used on each missile. So, all the workers on the line were sent home until more X was procured, and since we were a union shop, they were all paid for the day. He explained that X had a very short shelf life.

I asked him,

How much does it cost? So what if it expires and we have to throw some away? Wouldn’t that be cheaper than sending everyone home?

He replied,

I don’t know but it must be very expensive, otherwise, they wouldn’t be always cutting it so close and sometimes running out of it.

I concurred that he was probably right but recommended he check. So, just to placate the silly young woman (women engineers were even more of a rarity back then) the manager called in some ordering clerk from inventory control and asked just how much was material X anyway. The clerk went to a terminal and looked it up.

Five dollars each, sir.

The manager looked a bit surprised at the low cost.

Five dollars an ounce?

The clerk shook his head,

No, sir. Five dollars a gallon.

I will admit that I did not help the situation at this point by bursting out laughing.

It was what happened next, and later, that was really interesting. He proceeded to yell, swear at and berate that clerk up and down. The clerk was a middle-aged man who was kind of a mousy guy to begin with. He was on the verge of tears before it was over and ran out of the office.

I looked the manager in the eye and said,

You had no right to treat that man the way you did. He was just doing his job. There is an inventory control system with a program that determines lead times and orders. You didn’t think to ask how much material X cost, either.  Regardless, no one should be talked to the way you just did. You owe him an apology.

He looked at him and snarled,

Who the hell do you think you are? I run this place and you’re just a little piss-ant engineer.

I told him,

Maybe so, but I’m right and you’re wrong.

I went off to my next meeting. Several hours later, the same manager and I happened to be walking next to each other through the same plant. We walked by Mr. Mouse and he looked like he wanted to duck behind the nearest plank mills. The manager walked over to him, cleared his throat and said,

I just wanted to apologize to you for the way I acted earlier. You were just doing your job and I was wrong to blow up like that. In the future, though, I would like to be sure that we don’t run out of X because it shuts the line down. If it hurts your performance numbers in inventory control or something like that, just go ahead and charge any expired product you have to throw away to my department.

Then, he shook the man’s hand, and walked away, leaving Mouse staring after him with a stunned look on his face.

He fell back in step with me – we were heading to the same meeting, and I turned around and said,

 

I’m really impressed, Mr. Rousey. It takes a strong man to admit that he was wrong.

Yes, that was Ron Rousey. Even though at that moment my opinion of him started to turn around, the feeling was not mutual. He told me later he thought I was a conceited smart ass who made him look bad in front of his crew by laughing at him, didn’t know that it wasn’t my place to talk back to him and that he could not believe that I was not impressed by his professional accomplishments but that apologizing to some guy who was scared of his own shadow earned my respect. He must have got over it, though, because a few years later, we were married.

I was thinking about this today because it occurred to me that probably everyone could have a better life by admitting faults and mistakes. If you don’t admit that you are wrong, you are going to continue to make the same mistakes and have the same problems.

It occurred to me because it brought to mind a mistake I made for many years …

… but for that you will have to wait for my next blog post.

—– Play our games while you are waiting —

Forgotten Trail

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Comments

4 Responses to “I Was Wrong”

  1. enigmachine on December 5th, 2015 4:18 am

    However heavy a lie might be to carry, it takes far more strength to admit a shameful truth.

  2. ThisFoolRightHere on December 5th, 2015 9:48 am

    You can’t be perfect in an imperfect world.

    It saves a lot of time when you admit that you effed-up and move forward from there. It is disarming to the other person who is anticipating every lie and excuse that you are about to hurl their way. They are ready to argue, fight, and prove you wrong. When you tell the truth about what you did or did not do, they are like – what the hell just happened??? Then you can both move on and figure out how to make things right.

  3. Mr. Whoosh on December 5th, 2015 12:18 pm

    That was a great story, we all hope our future self will be better than our previous self. 🙂
    Thanks. 🙂

  4. What is a name? on December 5th, 2015 12:33 pm

    I find it hard to believe the coincidence that I just so happened to be listening to “Never Wrong” by Disturbed on Immortalized while reading this.

    Link for the lazy: https://youtu.be/_EWTnmYUPpU

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