A friend of mine, Bill*, is what's known as a process server.
Bill’s principal job is to deliver or “serve” legal documents to a witness, defendant or other person involved in a legal action, mostly divorces and car accidents, according to Bill.
Yesterday, I got this text from him.
“I’ve just been thrown out of Dexter Industries after serving the VP there.”
“There’s a story behind this,” I thought.
Process servers are to the legal system what mail carriers are to the postal service.
Getting angry at a process server is a lot like telling off your mail carrier for delivering your electric bill.
Some people go to great lengths to avoid Bill, others are mean and rude, as if he were the cause of their divorce or personally requiring them to appear in court.
Threats of physical violence are not uncommon.
Once a man sternly informed Bill, “I’m standing my ground!”
As if Bill were a one-man SWAT-Team.
While Bill is not physically imposing, intellectually he is kind of a one-man SWAT team.
Here's the story behind the text:
Bill had papers to serve the president and vice president of a company we’ll call Dexter Industries.
As it turns out...
The president and vice president at Dexter Industries also happen to be brothers.
In the lobby, Bill asks for the president.
The receptionist replies, "He's out of town."
Bill asks to speak with the vice president (a.k.a. the other brother).
The receptionist calls him.
The vice president rooster struts into the reception area as if hearing Hail to the Chief.
Before Bill can do or say anything, the Vice President snatches the paper out of his hand with an air of: “I’m queen for a day and you're an underling here to do my bidding."
When a legal document arrives in the designated recipient’s hand, the recipient has legally been “served.” It's done.
After opening the document and realizing he’s “been served,” the vice president, somewhat childishly, tries to give the paper back.
Of course Bill couldn’t accept it.
Unable to reverse the process, as it were, the vice president throws a tantrum.
“You tricked me!” He hissed.
An accusation to which Bill calmly replied, “I can see how your brother ended up in the top spot.”
The secretary who’d been watching the drama unfold, burped an audible, “Oh, Sh#t.”
The Dexter Industries "bouncer" showed up trying appear threatening and Bill departed hastily.
He’s really good at that, too.
Sometimes people in power don't know how to handle it.
When we invest time in learning how to exercise our power with respect and empathy, we transcend our work and begin to lead.
P.S. I asked Bill of I could “steal” his story and he told me I could. But don't be surprised if you see it on Netflix one of these days.
* Not his real name.
The best thing you can do for your career is help someone else with theirs.
In that spirit...
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