Monday, December 29, 2008

More Orchestrated Failure

Although I had very little interaction with laboratory people because of my writing, I noticed a new pattern developing. In addition to spending a couple of hours a day on the telephone, Buzz was now calling in sick on alternate Mondays and Fridays. He was also taking half days off for personal business. When I first noticed the occurrence, I began marking the days he was absent on my desk calendar. After about a month of documenting his actions, I calculated that he was effectively working a four day week, and I was powerless to do anything about it. If I talked to Buzz about it, he would run to Darth who would make light of the whole thing and then Darth would probably reprimand me for handling the situation incorrectly. I was powerless to take action.

Finally in desperation, I discussed the problems concerning Buzz with Jeff Teller.

“Look at this. Buzz is absent all the time,” I said pointing to my appointment calendar.

Jeff Teller looked shocked and exclaimed, “You're documenting it!!”

I replied, “Sure, and if I go to Darth he'll just ignore it.”

“Yeah, that's the way he is,” Jeff answered uneasily.

Jeff then left my office without offering any suggestions or help.

Shortly after that conversation, Buzz's daily attendance dramatically improved. I was confused by his sudden change in his behavior. It almost seemed as if his actions had been planned and orchestrated.

My faint hopes of adding a new person were squelched a few weeks later when I received a letter from Mack Mark rejecting my offer. It was a standard rejection letter with no specific reason given for not accepting the Delta Oil offer. Since I wanted to confirm suspicions that the low salary was a major factor, I gave Mack a call. He stated that he had accepted another offer that was 25% higher than the Gamma Supplies offer. As I probed more, he revealed that he had received three other offers beside the Gamma Supplies offer and that the Gamma starting salary was the lowest of the the four offers. I already knew what he was telling me, but I wanted proof for when I was put on the defensive by Darth and the Arnold cline as to why I had not hire someone new for the lab.

The typical scenario had evolved. I was told to do something, which was hire a new
person for the lab, and then I was thwarted to the point of being put in an impossible situation. Now I would have to defend “my failure”. It also seemed more and more that my trip to New Orleans just prior to my deposition was just for R&R to make sure I would be in a good mood and give favorable testimony.

I went about the business of contacting the remaining candidates, but since almost six weeks had passed since the ACS meeting they all had made decisions to accept positions elsewhere which left me with no viable prospects. As expected, Arnold Cline summoned me to his office and grilled me on the progress in locating a person for the laboratory. I explained the situation to him, including the low salary offer to Mack Mark, and outlined alternative routes to obtaining the services of someone else. He acted annoyed at my failure and told me to keep at it because it was important to get someone else in the laboratory as soon as possible. I said fine, but I really saw no reason at that point to hire someone new for the laboratory.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Push out the door starts.

The next day I returned to the laboratory to face Jeff, John and Buzz whom I now referred to as the Three Musketeers. They acted in the laboratory as though they spent all their free time together. They told me they got up each morning and exercised at Club Tennis together and then they jogged together. Of course, their ultimate objective was to get rid of me and they made no attempt to hide that fact.

One day I got into an argument with Jeff over the installation of a dart board in the lab. Finally, after a heated debate, I said that there would be not dart playing in the laboratory. I went back to my office, sat down and looked through the doorway of the laboratory and saw John telling Jeff in a loud voice, “Now don't push it. Just do what I say and we'll get him.” By now such blatant hostility was just standard practice and I just shrugged it off.

My plans to hire a new person for the laboratory were also being thwarted. I brought Mack Mark, one of the chemists I had interviewed in New Orleans into Gamma for an in-depth interview. Things were going well until lunch time. Darth suggested that he, Jay and Carl join Mack and I for lunch at the Full Sails. I agreed. Mack was an intelligent, serious professional who was interested in learning as much as he could about Gamma Supplies during his visit.

At lunch time, Darth, Jay and Carl sat on one side of the table and Mack and I sat on the other side. Mack tried in vain to ask intelligent questions, but Darth, Jay and Carl were acting like they were the Three Stooges and repeatedly talked nonsense. I tried without too much success to make sense out of their actions, but I was helpless to try to save the interview. Mack left the lunch with a disappointed, confused expression on his face and I could only imagine what must have been going through his mind. I knew I would not be getting a new person for the laboratory. Mack was obviously annoyed and unimpressed by the “Three Stooges”, but there was little I could do to correct the situation. That afternoon before Mack left the site, I informed him he would be getting a formal offer from us. He did not respond very enthusiastically.

The following day I began discussing with Carl what kind of stipend would be best to induce Mack to accept our offer. Since Gamma Supplies had a poor benefits package, I thought it was best to give him a good salary offer. Carl agreed with me in principal and then suggested we offer Mack a starting salary that was equal to what I had received three years earlier when I started working in industry. I argued that his suggested salary offer was low, but Carl was adamant and proceeded to give me a lecture on being fiscally conservative. I didn't mention it, but apparently Carl never heard that you get what you pay for. Finally, Carl yielded a little and agreed to make Carl an offer for $2,000 per year more than what
he had originally suggested. I knew from the current job market that the offer was still ridiculously low, but I went through the motions and wrote up an offer and sent it to Mack.

If the clown act at lunch had not turned off Mack, the salary offer most assuredly would. I mailed off the offer knowing I was just going through the motions and that the offer would be rejected.

My lab work now consisted primarily of writing a patent application. Every other day Dan Gane would call to see how I was progressing and the days he didn't call, Darth would stick his head in my office to inquire how things were coming on the patent application. Other than that, I never saw Darth which was fine with me.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The CRIMINALLY INSANE get what they want - My Testamony!

My deposition took place on March 30, 1977. The official document states the

“Deposition of XXXXXXX X. XXXXX, called for examination by the Plaintiff,
under and pursuant to the Federal Rules and Civil Procedure, pursuant to
notice, before Moneen L. Behtea, a Notary Public in and for the state of
Wisconsin, at 250 East Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin on the
30th day of March 1977, commencing at 9:30 o'clock in the morning.


DEWEY, CHEATEM and HOWE by Cruz Little, Esq., and J. Barry Champs, Esq. appeared on
behalf of the plaintiff.

Fried, Wezel, and Gane by Dan Gane, Esq.
Chicago, Illinois 606033 appeared on behalf of the defendant.

Also present for the plaintiff:
Robert L. Laity
Jane Bitzen

The last two people listed for the plaintiff are scientists form the Arthur D. Little Consulting Company who were there to determine my technical competency. During thelunch break of my first day of testimony, they informed Cruz Little that I was competent and that they could not be of any help so they left after the lunch recess.

The questioning initially concentrated on my education and industrial background and quickly progressed to my introduction to Gamma Supplies and the foundry industry. I answered all questions strictly in line with the Gamma Supplies story and avoided all taboo subjucts such as Tenneland.

The afternoon session quickly progressed into a discussion of the technical issues andthe phenolic product being manufactured by Tenneland for Delta Oil. At this point I answered that I had no knowledge of what Tenneland did because Ravi Sardess and Carl Host handled that end of the business. All I ever saw was the phenolic resin product that arrived at the Gamma Supplies' plant. As the questioning continued, Cruz Little started to delve into the Gamma “Rapid Set” formulation and the effect of what I will call a “polyol material”. The “polyol material” was the basis of the Ravi Sardess and Darth Korey patent, and its beneficial effects in the “Rapid Set” formulation were questionable. At one point I had generated data which showed the laboratory data John Mason had reported was not accurate and that the amounts of the “polyol material” in the formulation was way too high. I had shown the data to Darth and he was not pleased with it, because at
that time, the presence of the polyol material was a major element in the Gamma Supplies defense. Darth had taken the appeasement route and reduced the “polyol material” a small amount in the “Rapid Set” formulation. The change was not enough to make any significant performance difference. At the same time, he preserved the “polyol material” defense, but both he and I were well aware that the polyol material defense was very weak. I did not discuss the data with anyone else, and it did not appear in any of my monthly reports. Cruz Little was now probing in that area and I was uncomfortable so I asked for a short break. When the questioning resumed, Cruz Little started by asking questions on another topic. Just like that the problem disappeared and I was relieved that he had stopped
pursuing the “polyol material” subject.

As the questioning continued, it became more and more clear that the failure of Example 12 to work was a key issue. Mr. Little questioned me over and over again on how I ran the test, what possibly was wrong with the way I ran the test and why I thought Example 12 did not work. I was well prepared for his questions and had no trouble defending the Gamma Supplies position that Example 12 was a bogus example. Surprisingly, Mr. Little did not ask about the other patent example I had found which was very similar to Example 12. My fears concerning questions on that subject were not realized. Again, I felt a sense of relief.

After a day and a half of testimony, my deposition was concluded.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The FATAL Decision

That evening at home I did a lot of soul searching. Something was drastically wrong, but I didn't know what. The next morning I was suppose to go in and testify on behalf of Gamma Supplies. Since the technical issues were in the grey area and were not black and white,I could support Gammma Supplies' position or I could sink the whole Gamma Supplies' defense. It was really a matter of which side I wanted to take.

The non-technical issues were likewise unclear and rather muddy. While Gamma Supplies had presented to the courts and Better Supplies the image of a small company that had accidentally stumbled into Better Supplies' area of patent coverage, I was well aware of Tennelands participation and had other evidence that Gamma Supplies attack on the Better Supplies patents was well planned and orchestrated. One document I was given was a letter from Better Supplies' attorneys dated April 1976, which stated that Gamma Supplies should seek legal counsel because of the legal action Better Suppliesw was pursuing. However, in my snooping around in the lab, I had come across a lengthy letter from Dan Game to Rave, Darth and Arnold Cline, dated October 17, 1975. The letter detailed a complete strategy for defeating the Better Supplies patents. In fact, on page 8, Dan states:

“ might be to Gamma's best interest to take license thereunder at a very nominal paid-up royalty, since a nominal royalty might be more
economical in the long run than defending a patent infringement

However, the actions of the people at Gamma Supplies supported the story that Gamma Supplies had just stumbled into the whole affair, and that was the story I was suppose to present. One thing I was sure of was that the litigation had industry wide implications and a lot of people besides Gamma Supplies would benefit if the Better Supplies patents were broken. Regardless of my status at Gamma Supplies, it was in my best interest of my career to support the Gamma Supplies cause. I could not let my intense dislike for Darth and the Clines be the deciding factor. I had to believe that more rational people were behind the orchestrated attack on the Better Supplies' patents and that in the long run, it would best for me to give a supportive testimony.

However, Darth's condescending attitude toward me should have been a warning that maybe the people who were behind the orchestrated attack on the Better supplies patents were NOT SANE and RATIONAL. The ideas that I might be dealing with CRIMINALLY INSANE people did not cross my mind at the time.

There was one other consideration in deciding what to do about my testimony. Dan Gane had explained to me that the deposition was a preliminary questioning procedure from which the attorneys extracted information which they used for questioning during the actual trial. He did point out that in cases where a witness could not appear for the trial the deposition could be presented at the trial as that witness's testimony. Since I saw no reason why I would not be able to appear at the trial, I believed my deposition would not be my final word in the legal proceedings. Thus, Gamma Supplies would still need my services.
For anyone reading this story, I have a question: What would you have done? I can tell you that you are missing one critical piece of information that I didn't have either at the time of the decision.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Prepping of my testimony continues.

That weekend I departed for New Orleans to attend the ACS meeting , but before I left
Darth informed me that Carl would be joining me to help me recruit the new scientist. Although I had no objection to Carl's presence at the meeting, I did not see what he could contribute in terms of recruiting a scientist. More importantly, I had been looking forwardto spending a few days away from any Gamma influence. I was also looking forward to see-ing some old friends and socializing with them. With Carl there, I would have to modify some of my plans.

The recruiting at the ACS meeting was laborious and exhausting. Most of the
candidates came to the interview thinking that Gamma Supplies, must be located in the New Orleans area and they became quickly disinterested when they learned the job was in Chicago, IL.

Carl showed up for the second and third day of recruiting a demonstrated a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the job at hand. By the end of the third day, I had found three good candidates that I thought were worth actively pursuing. Carl seemed satisfied and he would be leaving on business on the next day. That meant I would get a couple of days to relax and enjoy the professional meeting.

The weekend prior to my scheduled deposition I flew back to Chicago feeling somewhat relieved and freshened. The following Monday when I reported back to work, I was informed by Darth that the Better Supplies' attorneys were going to take a deposition of a Tenneland person located at the Summerfield plant. Darth informed me that he, Dan Gane and I were going to be present during the testimony.

The next morning I was on a plane to Summerfield, Ohio. We met with the Better Supplies attorneys for lunch and then proceeded to an office to await the arrival of the yet unidentified Tenneland witness. My feeling was that Paul Jones, the plant chemist was the man Better Supplies should be talking to, but I knew the witness could not be him because he had been transferred to Atlanta, GA a couple of months earlier. At the time when I was told that Paul had been transferred, I thought that at least in part the reason for the transfer was to make the process of obtaining his testimony difficult.

Robert Graham, the plant manager at the Tenneland Summerfield facility finally showed up to give his deposition. His testimony only lasted a couple of hours and it revealed nothing. He expressed ignorance of everything of real interest to Better Supplies' case, and gave only superficial answers to the questions that he did know something about. The day concluded with Better Supplies' attorneys learning nothing new, and I left thinking Gamma Supplies and Tenneland had pulled another fast one in the legal battle.

Darth and Dan decided I should fly back to Chicago with Dan Gane and then we would drive from the airport together. The time together would give us a chance to discuss our strategy and Dan could prep me for some of the more difficult questions.

During our discussion on the drive from the airport I brought up an example from another Better Supplies' patent that was not directly involved in the litigation. I told Dan thatthe material was very similar to that in Example 12, about which we were concerned, and that due to some differences, maybe that example would work whereas I had not been able to make Example 12 work. No one had ever mentioned this other example, and if Better Supplies' attorneys inquired about that example, it could potentially greatly weaken Gamma Supplies' position which was more and more becoming based on the fact that Example 12 did not work. I was very concerned that Cruz Little would question me on that example, and I wanted some advice as to how to handle that kind of attack. Dan did not answer my questions. If fact, he just ignored me as if he knew that subject would not be brought up. Since Dan had coached me on other subjects, his failure to respond in this instance told me not to worry about it. But I couldn't help wonder why he was not concerned about that example. This was a technical issue at stake and not some legal maneuvering. Since I was
Gamma Supplies' one and only expert technical witness, I had a lot of concern over this second example. But, I could not get Dan to say anything.

One comment that Dan did make bothered me even more. He said he was Gamma Supplies attorney and did not represent me. That sounded strange to me since I was a Gamma Supplies' employee, and he seemed to be saying I was on my own or that I could get my own attorney. Of course, I couldn't afford to do that.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Testing My Memory Before My Testimony

Early the next week, Carl came into my office and told me I would be getting an 8%
raise (the same as Buzz and Jeff) which increased my salary to the figure Darth had originally mentioned during myprimary interviews at Gamma Oil. I was not told how the figure was arrived at, but I was given the usual amount of verbal praise and was told how the Clines and Darth thought I was doing an excellent job. I thought the raise, which I was suppose to get back in January being given to me because my deposition in the lawsuit was scheduled in two weeks. If anything, the timing of the raise mad me angry.

Anita and I were getting back on our feet financially, and we had reached a point where we able to save some money. Since we able to live on our combined salaries prior to my raise and since Anita had a tendency to spend “extra money”, I decided to open a separate savings account and deposit the net of my salary increase in the new account without Anita's knowledge. As far as she was concerned, I was still making same salary.

I thought that we should accumulate as much savings as possible for the inevitable change of jobs and relocation. I went to the same bank where we had our checking and joint savings account and opened a second savings account in my name only. I gave the teller my work address on the application and took great pains to explain to her that under no circumstances did I want the new savings statement going to my home address. She assured me that the joint account statement would go to our home, and the new single name account would go to my work address. I left the bank feeling relieved that I did not have to explain my raise to my wife. What I did not realize was that I had so much conflict at work that I was changing my relationship with my with wife to avoid any more stress in my life.

The week prior to my departure to the ACS meeting, we had our fourth management
meeting. I didn't know it at the time, but this turned out to be the most critical meeting I was to attend while I was at Gamma Supplies. The business scenario we were given to review was titled, “Decisions at Zenith Life,” and we were asked to pick from four candidates the man best suited to become president of The Zenith Life Company. Darth came to the meeting and acted out each of the fictional candidates in “interviews”, and then we discussed the merits for each man becoming the new president.

Next, Darth handed out a sheet called “How to Spot a 'Comer'”. The article was a list of thirteen items that managers should look for in subordinates who are to be promoted. The list was the exact same one Darth had read to us in the first management meeting in September. I later checked and found that even the order in my original notes was the same as in the article. At the meeting, I knew we had previously discussed the the items on the list, but I was amazed that no one commented on the fact that we had covered this before. My first reaction was that no one wanted to embarrass Darth, but when no one mentioned it at lunch when Darth was not present, I became baffled. Surely someone else must have recognized that we had covered this material before. What I did not know at the time, was that the purpose of repeating the list at the meeting, was to test my memory. And Darth's absent at lunch was no accident. Had all the induced stress I had been subject to been effective in erasing/altering my memory? Had the programming of my testimony been effective?! The list testing my memory said "yes" as far as my "captors" were concerned.

The afternoon session took on the typical farcical atmosphere that exemplified most of the meetings. Darth spent a couple of hours talking about supernatural acts and mysterious happenings. He went to great lengths telling us about his use of a divining rod to locate water on his land and how he and his brother use to play hide and seek for nickels. One brother would hide a nickel in a house room and the other brother would then locate the hidden nickel by holding a nickel and a bent coat hanger in his hand. The coat hanger would then point to the location of the hidden nickel! Darth of course presented this in all seriousness. Maybe he thought I should hire a mystic for the laboratory to solve the technical problems.

It did not immediately occur to me that there was nothing to show Darth
had lectured at great lengths on the ludicrous and evil (Biblically speaking) topic of mystical forces. I doubt if he learned that subject in business school. I did retain copies of the “Zenith Life” and “Spot A Comer” articles which were legitimate topics for a management meeting. But there was little evidence of the farcical topics we covered at most of the meetings.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Strange get Stranger

Darth's reaction to my request for a contract took a strange and totally unexpected
twist. After our conversation, Darth's attitude toward me became childish to the point of being ridiculous. At first, he would just refuse to acknowledge me when I would walk pass him at work.

Then, things at work became more absurd. First, it was customary at Gamma Supplies for the secretary to circulate a birthday card for everyone to sign and then present the card to theto the recipient. On the day of my birthday, I did not receive a card. I knew it was not an oversight because when I joined the company, Chris, the secretary, had called me for my personal data which included my birthday. At that time, Chris explained to me that the data was used for such company rituals such as the birthday card. When I inquired with Chris as to why I hadn't received a card, she said Darth had stopped it.

More direct evidence of my isolation from the Gamma Supplies environment occurred the next day when all the laboratory personnel, the Clines's and Darth attended a dinner and a play which was paid for by Gamma Supplies. The event had been planned a couple of weeks in advance and George Landry, the lab coordinator for the event gave in advance of the event, the tickets for the play and then made sure to point out that Darth had assigned the seating arrangement.

The seating at dinner was random and Anita and I sat at a table with Carl Host and his wife. Darth arrived alone and late, and to my surprise came over to our table and sat down for dinner. The dinner time was spent talking about trivial subjects and Darth gladly chimed in with his opinions. However, he avoided talking directly to me and would not respond to any of my questions directed to him. I just sat there and thought how absurd it was for him to act like that.

After the dinner, we walked to the to the theater where the Gamma' laboratory
personnel sat in the center section of the first two rows, Darth and the Clines sat together in the upper right section of the theater. Anita and I had been given seats by ourselves in the upper center section! We were totally separated from all of the Gamma people. At intermission, some people with seats near the Gamma laboratory personal left and Anita and I moved down to those seats for the second act.

After the play, Jay Wells from Tech Services and his girlfriend, Carl Host and I with our wives went to a near-by club for a drink. During a conversation, I commented to Carl about what a nice time Anita and I had at the Club Tennis Valentines Tennis Party and how it was a shame that he and his wife had been unable to attend. Carl's wife was surprised and turned to Carl and said, “What tennis party were we invited to”?

Carl didn't know what to say and finally after a long period of silence he told her to forget about it and that it wasn't important. But it was important to me it told me that Carl never considered going to the tennis party, and for some reason he was avoiding all none work related social interactions between him, his wife and Anita and me.

In retrospect, the most interesting thing about the evening was my wife's reaction to everything. On the drive home, I said “Did you see how Darth acted toward me?”.

“Yes”, she replied.

“I mean he wouldn't say a word to me”.

Anita said nothing.

“And Carl never did ask his wife about going to the tennis party with us,” I continued.

Again, Anita said nothing. She also never commented on our being separated from
everyone else at the play. Her lack of comments on the situation puzzled me, but it was late and since we were both tired, I dropped the subject.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I was not surprised when Darth quickly agreed with the trip and the plans to
hire someone new since Darth's tactics were always to agree at first and then latter change his direction. Also the ACS meeting was in mid-March and anyone I recruited could not be hired until at least April which was well past my scheduled deposition date. I went ahead and made arrangements and looked forward to the trip to New Orleans.

My second plan of attack was to befriend Carl Host and get his support for my efforts. I wanted to get to know him better so I invited him and his wife over for dinner. He refused with little or no excuse. I then invited him and his wife to join Anita and me at a social tennis gathering at La Club. Carl had told me he played tennis and I thought the invitation would be hard to refuse. Carl said he would check with his wife and then let me know. At last I thought I was making progress. Several days later, Carl informed me that his wife did not want to attend the tennis social. At that point I gave up trying to socialize with Carl and his wife.

My third plan of attack was to press for a long-term contract similar to the one Ravi had. Although the contract would not provide me with any job security, it would provide me with an income should my worse fears be realized and I did have to find another job. Darth's reaction to my request for a long-term contract was predictable. At first he said he thought it would be a good idea and even gave me a small pamphlet on writing an effective contract. This fit the pattern of Darth initially agreeing to something and then latter doing an about face and doing just the opposite. And this time was no exception.

For the next two evenings, I read and studied the pamphlet on how to write an effectivecontract and what to include in such a document. The third day I went in and told Darth that I wanted to discuss some of the items to be included in the contract. Darth was succinct and to the point. “The Cline's and I feel we should be able to walk in and fire anyone on a moments notice. There will be no contract.” End of conversation!

I left Darth's office wondering what ever happened to their elegant firing procedure that Darth had spent a half a day outlining at the previous management meeting. Of course, by now I was accustomed to double standards at Gamma Supplies. There was on set of rules and conventions that applied to everyone else and a separate set of rules that applied to me. Their failure to negotiate a contract with an employee who they were counting on for the future of Gamma Oil confirmed what I already knew. My job was solely to assist in their legal battle with Better Supplies.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Book publisher wanted!

Darth's January testimony had raised some questions about our technical defense
against Better Supplies. Since Ravi's deposition never materialized and my testimony had been postponed until late March, it gave me time to do some work on the technical issues which were still no solidified. Two prominent issues had surfaced.

First, in one of the Better Supplies' patents involved in the litigation, there was an example of a phenolic resin which was made by a process very similar to the one Gamma Supplies was now using and it was possible that the material itself was very similar. We had to establish that the material in Better Supplies' Example 12 of the patent did not work as well as our material. Example 12, as we referred
to it, would become more and more critical to the Gamma's case as time went on. The second problem was a result of a statement Darth made during his depostion. He had claimed that in early 1976, one batch of phenolic resin had worked exceptionally well and he thought it might have been accidentally the same as the phenolic resin I had subsequently developed. Although this had little effect on the immediate litigation, it meant that I had to get a patent application filed as soon as possible. I also started working on the that application immediately.

The easiest way to remove the concern about Example 12 was to reproduce the work
that Better Supplies had reported. This required that I go back into the laboratory, make the phenolic resin as described in the patent and then evaluate it. I was not looking forward to going back into the laboratory. First, Buzz was always giving me a difficult time over one thing or another, and John and Jeff contributed to a hostile environment. In addition to the difficulties with Buzz, my perceived conflict with Jim hadnot subsided. This fact was reinforced by Jay Wells who informed me that John had made the remark, “Russ is going to pay for Ravi being fired”. And my situation was not helped by the fact that Ravi still came in and used his office from time to time and always held visible conference with John. The high visibility of all of the hostility made me wonder why no one seemed to care about the situation. Despite all of the distractions, I still managed to work on Example 12.

I was concerned about Example 12, because from what I knew about the chemistry
involved, I could not see why the phenolic resin described should not work. John had informed me he had tried to make Example 12 work, but was not successful. Since I was aware of Joohn's propensity to massage and slant data, I was still uneasy about the material in Example 12. Still, there were some differences between the material in Example 12 and the phenolic resin I had developed. I spent several weeks carefully following Better Supplies' directions, but I could not get the critical final results which they had reported. In essence, Example 12 did not work as reported. I was relieved and not totally surprised since patents will frequently contain fictitious examples just to cover and protect against all possibilities.
Since Example 12 was one of only two of its kind in the Better Supplies patents under question, I believed that this might be the case here.

By now I was fully convinced that my only purpose at Gamma Supplies was to provide a technical base and testimony to defeat the Better Supplies' patents. I decided to push for as many concessions as I could get before my scheduled testimony. The first thing I wanted to do was to add a new person in the laboratory to break up the John, Buzz, Jeff cabal and to upgrade the technical abilities in the laboratory. To that end, I requested that I attend the ACS meeting in March and recruit a new chemist since I was suppose to be “building a laboratory".

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sudden Policy Reversal

My question about whether Darth was aware that I knew he had perjured himself had been answered, but equally important was his reaction to even my slightest suggestion that I knew. Given Darth's lack of character and given his strong reaction my comment evoked, I felt like I was talking to a Mafia Don rather than my boss and a partner in the legal battle against Better Supplies. Actually, I wasn't afraid of Darth, but I was becoming fearful that I was involved in a nefarious scheme being run by some really powerful people. And I didn't know who those people were. As we continued down the hall, I was still thinking about Darth's reaction.

I barely had time to get back to the lab and think about what had transpired
when it was time to attend the next management meeting. The third meeting was held at the Lake Geneva Playboy Club and served as a mid-winter break from the rigors of Chicago winters. The meeting was suppose to center on a scenario of the self-made man who had been a successful in the business and financial worlds and who was a hard line conservative. Mr. Haws, as he was called in the story, was a true believer in the malevolent dictatorship, and he acted totally in a very short term manner. Darth embraced his techniques, which was a complete reversal of our first meeting when Gamma Supplies was presented as a long term, people oriented company.

We only spent a short time on the analysis on the Mr. Haws' techniques before went on to the subject he really wanted to talk about; firing employees. Darth went great lengths to detail the procedures which had been reportedly used to terminate a Gamma Supplies' sales rep from Louisiana. The procedure called for making Darth aware of the problem and then having him and the Clines review the situation. Finally, they would observe the person and make the decision. The bottom line was that no on but Darth Korey could decide to fire anyone. This seemed reasonable to me, but I couldn't help but wonder why he went to such great lengths to emphasize it.
What the Darth firing procedure meant is that I could not take any corrective actions in the laboratory because I had almost no say or power in terminating anyone. It had already been established that I had no say in determining personnel salaries. So, despite all of the showy announcements in the lab., I had absolutely no power.

On the plus side, since the firing procedure had been made a policy at the management meeting, Presumably no one else had any power in firing someone. This laborious review procedure did not fit into what one salesman had termed Gamma Supplies revolving door policy. Other that providing some time away from the lab in a nice atmosphere, the meeting was just another of a series of disappointments.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Let the perjury begin.

Chapter II

'The great masses of the people .................will more easily fall victim to a big lie
than to a small on. - Adolf Hitler

In late January Darth gave his deposition. It was held in downtown Milwaukee in the offices of a local law firm. Carl Host and I attended along with Gamma Supplies' attorney Dan Gane from a Chicago law firm. The Better Supplies' lawyers were Cruz Little and Barry Champs from a Dayton law firm. Gamma Supplies was too small of a corporation to have in-house lawyers and the federal judge presiding over the case in Chicago's United States District Court had made a ruling early in the case that Better Supplies could not have their in-house attorneys to handle the case because there was to be an exchange of proprietary and confidential technical material in the case. Therefore both sides had hired outside council. That decision had been a major victory for Gamma Supplies because it limited Better Supplies ability to carry out an effective technical attack on Gamma Supplies' position. At the time of the that decision, I thought Gamma Supplies had been extremely fortunate to have won such a ruling and I was to later learn it was crucial in the course of the trial.

Darth arrived late as usual. I had not seen Darth for several weeks and I was a bit surprised when he came in the room looking very tan and wearing a very business-like three piece, blue pin-strip suit. His attire was quite different from his usual ski sweater and cleated cowboy boots that he wore around the office. I was also curious as to where he had gotten such a deep tan. As I sat there and listened to him give his deposition, I laughed to myself because it was such a fabrication that it was ridiculous, but it was the story line which had to be pursued to win the legal battle. The first day ended and Darth, Dan and I all agreed things had gone well, but we knew there were still a few items that needed to be gone over for the next day.

During the second day of questioning, Cruz Little asked the one question I had been waiting for.

Little: “There's no joint venture, anything like that between Gamma and Tenneland

Darth: “Mm-mm”*

Little: “It's just a manufacture-customer relationship?”

Darth: “Right”

Darth's first answer was barely audible, but it was still a “no” and then Little let him off the hook with the perfect follow-up question. What luck!

When noon rolled around we all decided to take an hour for lunch and then reconvene. At that point Cruz Little, Darth and Dan Gane asked me to leave the room while they chatted. I felt the request was a little unusual, but I dutifully left. As I closed the door behind me I stood there in the hallway and contemplated ease dropping on the conversation going on in the room. I wondered what could be so important that I couldn't hear it. After all, this was a legal proceeding. I decided to head to lunch, but to this day I wish I had listened
* The first transcribed copy of the deposition shows Darth's answer to the first question to be “Mm-mm.” The official version shows it to be “No.”

The second day of testimony delved into the technical aspects. Mr. Little asked Darth to draw some chemical structures on a piece of paper which could be included in the deposition. Darth scrawled some crude structures on the paper as if he were barely aware of what had been going on in the lab. Darth had a B.S. Degree in chemistry, he had worked in and had been in charge of Gamma's lab for over ten years and I had given him detailed reports with structures on my work. We had discussed the structures, and now he was acting like a novice and as if he had never seen the structures before. I was concerned he was overacting. I was also beginning to wonder if Darth thought I didn't know what he was doing. After all, he had such a condescending attitude toward everyone. I decided for my own good, I had better find out.

Following Darth's testimony that afternoon, he, Dan Gane and I packed up the
documents and proceeded to leave the building. There was a sense of relief that the grind of two days of questioning was over. I jokingly said, “Darth, from the looks of those structures you drew, I'm going to have to teach you some organic chemistry.”

Darth stopped, turned and glared at me, and with a slightly red face said, “you better watch your step, BOY!” There was heavy emphasis on the BOY. Apparently there was no longer a need to explain things like the building fences lecture he gave me in our first meeting.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Book publisher wanted!

I was still unhappy about changes that had taken place so I decided to talk to Arnold Cline. Arnold was receptive, listened and then sympathized by saying it was difficult on a person when he didn't know where he stood. He said it with such understanding that I got the feeling my predicament was definitely deliberate. As we concluded our conversation, I mentioned something about maybe things would be better now that Ravi was fired.

With that Arnold said, “See what we had in mind?” The he paused as though he had something wrong and continued. “Not that we had it planned or anything.”

Of course it had been planned, but I didn't know why he didn't want me to think that. The only thing I could think of was the image of a fly-by-night outfit we were presenting to the courts did not entail planning strategies, but surely he was aware that I knew better that that! I left his office feeling the same way I felt after one of my futile conversations with Darth.

January 1977, began the new year much the same way the previous months had been. It was decided that the new “Rapid Set” needed a formal quality control sheet with instructions to be available to the customer for use of the product, Since I was responsible for the development of the product, I felt I should draw up the information on the Quality Control Sheet since it contained product specifications. Instead, Darth decided Jay Wells should do it. Jay had a copy of the Better
Supplies “Fast Set” specifications from which he copied the form and then put Gamma Supplies's name and logo on it.

I was then given the job to test the directions to see how reproducible the test results were. To do this I requested each member of the laboratory to try out the new instructions and I would collect the data. John, Jeff and Buzz responded by attacking me for writing such poor instructions. Then they questioned, bickered, and argued over every little point. It took two weeks of fighting and hassling to get done what should have been done in a couple of days. Lost in all the confrontation was the fact that Jay, not I, had copied the Better Supplies document and had decided what to include in it. And since Darth had to approve everything, Darth had to have given his OK.

Darth's involvement and presence in the laboratory suddenly became noticeably less conspicuous. In fact, the only time I saw him was when he told me that he, Ravi and I were scheduled to give depositions on January 19.20. and 21 concerning the litigation with Better Supplies. When he told me, I thought it was pretty stupid to have Ravi give sworn testimony a month after he had been fired. And I really did not want to testify for Gamma Supplies at that point because I was not happy with the changes that had been made and the pay raise I had been told I would be getting at the beginning of the year had not materialized. The latter point was quickly explained away by accountant Ralph Sampson, who said Carl was handling all the raises in the lab except mine. Mine was being handled by my arch nemeses Darth. He explained that Darth had handled all raises the previous year, and he had been tardy then too. As had become a standard practice at Gamma Supplies, I was given the explanation that this occurrence too was a normal practice. And, as usual I was not happy.

In late January, I was told by Carl what Jeff and Buzz's raises were to be and that I would tell them of their increases. He also explained that Darth would handle my raisewhen he got around to it. I dutifully told Jeff about his salary increase and then I told Buzz. Both were less that happy and I was left in a position of defending salary increases that I had no say in determining. In my previous job, I gave evaluations of the technicians that worked for me, then their salaries were determined by upper level management based in part on my evaluation and then I informed the employee of their pay raise. I was also told in general the procedure which was used to arrive at the pay raises. At Gamma Supplies I had to face Buzz's hostility and questions for which I had no answers since I had no input in how the raises were determined. Again I was put in a position of being on the defensive. This time I had a basis for comparison in the procedure used to give raises.

I also had no way of evaluating Buzz's performance, but the fact that I knew nothing about what he was doing was enough to convince me that he was not doing a satisfactory job. Another irritating factor which indicated that Buzz was not doing a satisfactory performer was the amount of time he spent talking on the phone. He would get calls from his wife at least three times a day, and frequently someone would have to scurry around the lab to find him. He spent on the average one to two hours a day talking on the phone! When I discussed this problem with Darth, he acted unconcerned and casually asked, “I wonder whom he talks to?”

I tried to get copies of the phone call records from the people in the business office, but I was told such records were not kept.

I said to Ralph Sampson, “then anyone can pick up the lab phones and call Hong Kong and no on will know?!”

The answer was affirmative! Buzz could be talking to someone in Iran and it would be fine. I knew that couldn't be true, but I had no way of getting the phone records.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Screwed Again

Early that afternoon Darth came around to my office and explained that I would be
reporting to Carl, and that he would oversee the technical area and production. In other words, Carl would be taking over Ravi's job and my function would be to be responsible for the upper lab. Since the major responsibility of the upper lab was to develop “Quick Set”, there was no real change in my status. The promise from Darth in October that I would take over Ravi's position was not realized.

Then as Darth was leaving my office, Jay and Carl caught him and started discussing the memo. I joined in and took the opportunity to inquire about the “joint venture”.

“What about this joint venture business with Tenneland?” I inquired.

Darth became very nervous and annoyed. He said, “Arnold can't get anything right. I told him exactly what to say and he fouled it up.”

Darth then changed the subject, and our joint venture with Tenneland was never mentioned again.

That afternoon, Carl called everyone in the laboratory and announced that Ravi would no longer be active in the operations of the laboratory, but he would still be allowed to use his office because he had a contract with Gamma which was good for another six months. He also announced that I would be responsible for the laboratory, but that he would make all the decisions concerning research and production. His entire announcement left my position very nebulous and left me with the image of having no decision making power. I hardly had what could be termed management responsibilities, and although Carl had an elusive title, it was clear that he was taking over Ravi's duties. I was upset and depressed at the turn of events.

The next day was the annual Christmas party. I was not in a very jovial mood, and I was angry with Darth. By now, I knew it did no good to discuss anything with him because his word was worthless. The only consolation was that even though things had not worked out at Gamma Supplies, the work I was doing was also a benefit to Tenneland and the people there had treated me well so far. The party did not last very long and most people seemed more interested in leaving and spending time with their families. As I was leaving, Darth yelled across the room, “Russ, would you like to come down to my farm for Christmas dinner. Buzz and John are coming.”

I had already mad a commitment for Christmas with Anita's sister the prior evening on the phone, and I no longer felt any obligation to try to further my career at Gamma Supplies. I couldn't help feel that Darth already knew that I had a prior commitment when he made his belated offer.

I just said “No thank you, I already have other plans.” This type of
“scheduled conflict” would also become a common occurrence. Several years later, I would read an article about "psychological double-binds" or "no win" situations. These conflicts which have "no win" solutions are believed to cause schizophrenic behavior.

Several other changes became became apparent the week following Christmas. John was no longer working in the upper laboratory, but was now located in the lower lab out of my sight. He also now reported to Jay Wells. Buzhoha Yazzi had moved to the upper laboratory and was now working where I could see him. The net effect was the John and Buzz had switched positions. With the movement of Buzz to the upper lab, I was able to converse with him more and find out a little about the work he was doing.

One day while I was trying to make conversation with Buzz, he exclaimed, “Oh, I want to apologize for kidding you about not having any children. I didn't know your wife couldn't have any.”

At first I just accepted his apology and then after a moment of thought I said, “How do you know that?!”

Fuzzy calmly replied, “Darth told me.”

Now I was confused. How did Darth know? The only explanation I could think of was that the evening Anita and I went to dinner with Paul Johnson and his wife, Anita had discovered that Paul's wife had a similar medical problem and Paul had told Darth about Anita's problem. But why and how did that conversation go from Paul's wife to Buzz? It did not make sense, but how else could Buzz have known.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Plot unfolds - divide and conquer

The following week Paul Johnson stopped in my office and invited me to dinner with
him, his wife, and several of his clients from the Chicago area. Since Paul was about my age, a former chemist and a confidant at work, I thought that the dinner was an excellent way to cultivate a friendship with a co-worker. I readily accepted. Of course, I was not to tell Ravi I was having dinner with an area sales manager.

On December 19, Anit and I joined Paul, his wife and two Allis Chalmers managers and their wives for dinner at Paul's house. At dinner I was seated next to Paul with my wife on my immediate right. During the course of the evening, I was talking to an Allis Chalmers representative and was telling him about my background and how I planned to help Gamma Supplies provide the best foundry binders possible. Suddenly, Paul gave me a sharp rap on my leg under the table as if I was saying something wrong. Since they were Paul's clients, I terminated the conversation. After dinner, I asked Paul what was wrong. He ignored my question and said, “well, tomorrow is the big day.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Ravi is going to be fired tomorrow.”

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“Darth told me today that the attorney had given his approval so tomorrow they are going to make the changes.”

I was still skeptical. Darth had not said anything to me. “Are you sure?” I quired.

“Definitely,” Paul replied.

The next day I went to work with great anticipation. With all the events that had happened since my October meeting with Darth, I had almost begun to believe that the promise to fire Ravi was just another one of Darth's hollow promises. The day went by slowly and no announcement was made, and Ravi was his usual happy self. Late in the afternoon I saw Paul and pulled him into my office.

“I thought you said today is suppose to be the day. What happened?”

“I don't know,” he replied. “That is what I was told.”

I went home that evening feeling let down. The next day came and went with no
changes. Finally on the third day, Ravi had a meeting with Darth. When Ravi came out I was the only one in the laboratory, and as he walked by me he was visibly angry. He looked at me and said, “Have you ever been had?”

Ravi's words contained no animosity towards me, and they almost seemed to be a
warning more that anything else.
I wanted to go in and talk with Ravi and to try to find out what was going on, but the rift between us was too great. There was still no official announcement, but rumors were everywhere that Ravi had been fired. I feigned ignorance about the situation.

On December 23rd, the long awaited announcement was made in the form of a memo to all Gamma Supplies personnel from Arnold Clin. The memo contained several startling revelations. First, there was no mention of Ravi. Second, my name was noticeably missing from the memo. Several sales people were promoted or given increased responsibility, and Jay Wells was officially made Manager of Technical Services. Third, Carl Host was given the evasive title of Executive Assistant with the responsibility to “work on various projects, such as our joint venture with Tenneland.” There in black and white was what I had long suspected; Tenneland and Gamma Supplies were carrying out a joint effort. That effort I believed was to develop a phenolic resin and to have it manufactured. I was surprised to see it in writing because all our efforts had been to present Gamma Supplies in the Federal Court as some small fly-by-night outfit who had accidentally infringed on big, bad Better Supplies patents. Here was written evidence that Gamma Supplies was not acting alone, and that a larger corporation was involved in the attack on Better Supplies patents. While the memo stated many things, it did nothing to establish my position in the company.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Women's Role at Gamma Supplies

When I returned back to the lab, my work progressed nicely and with the results John Mason had obtained, I had developed a new process for making the phenolic resin needed for the “Rapid Set” formulation. Actually I had developed two processes, but the first process and the one that gave the best material for our use was a high temperature process which Ravi, Darth and I all agreed come very close to the Better Supplies' process reported in their patents. To be safe, it was decided that an alternate, low temperature process should be used even though it gave a slightly inferior product. I maximized the low temperature process in the laboratory and wrote a detailed procedure for Tenneland, Columbus plant where the new material would be manufactured.

It seemed only natural to me that I should go to Columbus, explain the new process and watch the first production batch being made. Instead, Darth informed me that Ravi would be taking the process to Columbus. I was angry. I should have at least been going with Ravi. It was standard procedure in for the developer of a new process to help transfer that process to manufacturing. Ravi was going to be fired in a month, I was suppose to be taking his place, I had developed the process, and Darth decided to send Ravi to Columbus to oversee the first production batch. It seemed like Darth was doing things just to frustrate me. He never gave me a satisfactory explanation for his actions, and such decisions kept me constantly unsure that Ravi would be fired despite constant reassurances. Darth had more than amply demonstrated that his word was not good. Darth, more and more was becoming my antagonist. Not Ravi.

The material Tenneland made from the new process arrived at Gamma Supplies a few days later, and test showed the material worked very well. In fact, with proper conditions, the material equaled or bettered the Better Supplies product. The only problems remaining were to get Tenneland to make the phenolic resin consistently and to win the legal battle against Better Supplies. Both objectives seemed well within our grasps with a little work.

It was mid-December and Anita and I were busy getting ready for the holidays. Since all of our relatives lived in the east, we planned on spending a quiet Christmas by ourselves. The one exception was Ursula's older sister Anna and her husband who lived in Madison, Wisconsin. A couple of weeks before Christmas, Anna called and asked us to join them for the holiday weekend. We had visited Anna and her husband Dave in the late fall and had an enjoyable weekend which included attending a university football game in Madison. Although we were not the closest of friends, Anita and I decided to spend the holidays with them rather than going it alone.

At work, I received a couple of invitations for the holidays. First, the secretary for the laboratory invited me to a Christmas party at her house. The invitation was for me only and when I asked if I could bring my wife, she was a bit taken back. She emphasized that Jay and Cliff from tech service were the only other people from Gamma Supplies who were going to be there. Jay and Cliff were both single. When I finally told her that I would only attend with my wife, she acquiesced and said that would be fine.

One of the things that had bothered me at Gamma Supplies was that there were no family functions. Wives were entirely invisible, and at all social gatherings, such as the Hatch Cover gatherings, and no one ever mentioned or acted as though they were married. In fact, Darth used the gatherings to boast of his male chauvinist pig attitude and on occasions he wore a tie with small pigs and “MCP” written all over it. However, I remained determined to include my wife in my social life.

Monday, October 6, 2008

No Escape

My hope for a trip to the Plastics Show in Chicago were fading when a week before the show, another strange coincidence occurred. Darth walked into my office and without saying anything else, calmly asked, “How would you like to go to the Plastic Show in Chicago next week? Ravi thought it would be a good idea.” I was stunned. I had been trying for weeks to find some way to rationalize a trip to the show on company expense, and now Darth walks in and offers it to me with no strings attached. I felt he had to know I wanted to go, but why would he offer me an opportunity to go see about another job. And, how did he know? I accepted the offer somewhat reluctantly.

Later in the week I was making arrangements for the trip to the show and a minor problem arose. I was still having a problem in my own mind justifying the trip because it was in no way related to my job in foundry industry products. Surely Darth was aware of that. I discussed the problem with Darth, and he assured I me there was no problem with my going and urged me to complete my plans to make the trip. As I was walking from his office, Darth said, “Oh Russ, Ravi listens to your conversations through your office wall. He suggested the trip.” That explanation, which I didn't ask for, seemed to be another one of those convenient rationalizations. I didn't see how Ravi could have heard me and a more
plausible explanation was my phone was tapped – but why and by whom?

I left Darth's office more confused that ever. If Ravi had overheard my conversation about the plastic show, as Darth had inferred, why would Ravi tell Darth and more puzzling was first, why would Darth want me to go and why would he tell me about Ravi's role? Nothing made any sense.

My trip to the plastic show was uneventful. I did get to talk to a few old friends, but none of them were encouraging when the topic of a new job came up. While I toured the exhibition hall I kept wondering what I was doing there besides looking for another job. And Darth's insistence that I go, bothered me even more. And to make things even more frustrating, I never did get to talk to the man I had gone to see. He was either always busy or our paths just did not cross at the right time. It was almost like he was avoiding me. I left the show feeling I had accomplished very little.

At the show I did meet a couple of fellow scientists that I had worked with at my previous job or I had known at the University of Florida. What was striking was how content and happy those people seemed and how well things were going for them. It sharply contrasted my frustrating, unhappy position at Gamma Supplies. It made me feel more sad and trapped that before I went to the show.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Book publisher wanted!

I continued to consider leaving Gamma Supplies, but because of my financial situation, I could not afford to just pack up and leave. Despite the finances involved, I continued to look for ways to find a new job rapidly. I made some inquiring phone calls with no success. I also finally expressed my problems to Anita and during our discussion, I stressed that despite all the problems, the Delta job still offered me exposure to the other business facets such as sales, accounting, marketing and production that I could not get with larger companies. And that exposure fit into my long term plans. At that moment it was the one reason I could see for staying at Gamma Supplies.

The next day at work, late in the afternoon, Darth wandered into my office and started a discussion which rapidly turned into a sales pitch on the merits of working for Gamma Supplies. I had had another bad day with Ravi and John, and I was not buying any of it. By now I considered Darth as much or more to blame for my problems than I did Ravi. It was becoming obvious to Darth that I wasn't buying his pitch when he said, “You know, Delta offers you exposure to other facets of the business such as sales, accounting, marketing, and production that you wouldn't get in another company.”

I blurted out, “That's EXACTLY what I said to my wife last night.”

I was somewhat take back by his statement, but I just dismissed it as a coincident. The coincidences at Gamma Supplies began to occur with more and more frequency and several occasion they seemed truly bizarre. At one of the management meetings, Darth had briefly mentioned psychologist Maslow's hierarchy of needs which states that a person's needs can be grouped into five categories, and that the categories are pyramidal in nature. That is, one need must be satisfied before the next higher need can be fulfilled. The third level need is belonging or association.

During a routine office conversation with Ralph Sampson, I jokingly said, “ I know what's the matter with me. My Maslow's sense of belonging is not being fulfilled.” Then I went back to my lab and continued working.

Within a couple of minutes of my conversation with Ralph, Darth came into the lab and slapped me on the back. Then he put his arm over my shoulder as if we were old buddies and said, “How are you doing Russ?”

The conversation continued for a couple of minutes, then Darth removed his arm from my shoulder and went on his way. The timing of Darth's action in relation to my comment to Ralph Sampson was uncanny. Darth had never acted like that before. In fact, Darth was always the isolated power figure. His actions seemed amateur like as if he were deliberately trying to make me feel that I belonged at Gamma Supplies.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Suggestions and stress!

Once the criticalness of the free formaldehyde in the phenolic resin had been established in the performance of the “Rapid Set”, Darth decided that no one outside of the laboratory should know about it. It was a technical secret that was to stay known only to a select few.

Several days later I had a scheduled meeting with George Hammond who was Vice President of Sales. The meeting was scheduled for nine o'clock in his office. As I walked down the hall toward George's office, I could hear John's voice. I paused and listened. John was talking to George and Paul Johnson and telling them all about the importance of free formaldehyde! I walked into the office, John looked at me, completed what he was saying and then left. I was furious. I went upstairs and stormed into Darth's office.

“What the hell is going on here? We agreed not to tell anyone about the effect of free formaldehyde and I walk into George's office and there is John blabbing all about it.”

Darth remained very aloof, and then said something about including John more in our plans to keep John from doing such things. I failed to mention that it was Darth's job to do that since John never listened to anything I wanted.

Since my appointment with Georng had been arranged for nine A.M., so John's presence and blunder seemed almost deliberate. But WHY? It was not until several months later that I realized these little arranged incidents were designed to generate a strong emotional response. This incident with John was one of many that were arranged to get my emotions running out of control. But at the time, it just seemed like another bizarre event at Gamma Supplies.

At that point I had enough of Gamma Supplies. John had worked for Mobile and knew better than divulge critical information. The information he was relaying had been obtained by, at best, questionable means as far as I was concerned. And, it was considered to be a critical trade secret. Yet Darth was condoning John's conduct by saying we had handled incorrectly. I was going to find another job.

I wanted to find a position immediately because I didn't want to get involved any deeper in Gamma's legal battle with Better Supplies. I called an acquaintance from a previous job and explained my situation to him. He had approached me with an offer prior to my joining Gamma. He said that he would be in Chicago in December for the Plastics Show, and maybe I could meet with him there to discuss the situation in more detail. I said I didn't know how I was going to get to the show, but if I could, I would contact him. Since I didn't have many alternatives, I decided I would try to manage a trip to the Chicago show.

I was very unhappy with Gamma Supplies, and I no longer believed anything Darth told me. Even if Kash was fired, I had been treated so badly that I wouldn't want to stay with Gamma, but I still wanted to leave under conditions which were best for me. Apparently my unhappiness was noted because I was given constant reminders that Ravi would be fired. One day Darth walked into my office and handed me a stack of papers concerning Gamma Supplies technology and suggested I look through them. All the papers were technical in nature except one which was one of Darth's business scenarios titled “The Paul White Young Co.”. That story was about a young manager who had been hire to replace an older, unpopular man. The new man is given an office adjacent to the unpopular manager. Eventually the older manager is fired , and the newly hire man takes his position. The analogy of situation with Ravi could not have been missed.

Later when I saw Darth, he asked if I had looked through the papers he had given me. I said, “yes”. The he said with a wink, “did you find anything interesting?” He smiled as only Darth could.

The absurd suggestions continued. One day when I was in the outer business office copying some papers, G. T. Cline walked up to me. I was about to say hello, when he smiled and stuck out his hand. I shook his hand and he turned and walked away.

That evening I told Anita what had happened and I exclaimed, “Now what the hell did that mean?”

“I don't know.” She replied.

The second week of November, I kept my appointment with Dr. Agayoff. Dr. Agayoff quickly asked me what was wrong and then gave me a quick once over. He then asked me a series of questions concerning the use of stimulants, such as coffee, to which I answered negative in all cases. Then he asked me if I had been under a lot of stress at work. I explained my situation at Gamma Supplies and with Ravi. He concluded that my problem was due to externally generated stress.

I was curious what someone else might do if they were in my situation. When I asked him his opinion, his solution was to hang on until Ravi was fired and to hope that things would improve. Even he seemed uneasy with that solution, but it was the best he could offer. He answer was not encouraging, but it made me feel as though I was doing the most practical thing by staying on the job. An EKG was taken and it proved to be normal. The appointment confirmed what I had believed all
along; I was under a tremendous amount of stress at work.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Answers Out of Nowhere(or Heaven)!

I was not pleased at all with his answer because it did not solve my immediate stress problem and the related health problems, and Darth despite all his power had not acted sooner to rectify the problem.

I replied, “Fine, if you get rid of Ravi, I will stay and see your lawsuit through to a successful completion.” At that point I had decided as soon as the lawsuit was completed, I was out of Delta Oil.

Then the conversation turned to my research results. As we were discussing what should be done, Darth quired, “what about the free formaldehyde?” Since I saw no reason from my work as to why free formaldehyde should be important, I tended to ignore his comment and continued on with what I thought was important.

After the meeting that day, we all gathered in the cocktail lounge for a drink. Darth joined us and soon everyone was listening to his business philosophy. After a couple of drinks, Darth began to brag more. He took great pride in telling how he and some friend had operated a telephone scam designed to bilk old ladies out of their savings. As I sat there and listened I couldn't help but think what a sad state of affairs it was to have a man like that as a business and community leader. In addition he pointed out that he was an Elder at a church in his community.

The next day, Darth came into my office and handed me a sheet of paper.

“Here are some thoughts I jotted down this morning on what should be done. I gave Ravi a copy. Why don't you draw up some plans and give them to Ravi.”

I looked at this list and there was item number 4, “What effect does free formaldehyde have?” The question again surfaced in my mind as to why he was so insistent on looking into the free formaldehyde. It seemed to me that he had been told that the free formaldehyde was critical. But by whom and why had Darth been given that information.

I drew up a detailed research plan, but I didn't include any work on free formaldehyde because I couldn't get all the work done by myself. I had my research plans typed and had a copy sent to Ravi and Darth.

The direct response I was expecting did not come from neither Ravi nor Darth.
Instead, John showed up in the upper lab and started to work on making phenolic resins to determine what the effect of free formaldehyde was on the “Quick Set” formulation. The results were dramatic. The correct level of free formaldehyde was critical to get the optimum performance on “Quick Set”. Now I was completely baffled as to how Darth knew that. He had been so insistent on it that he had to have known. And there were at least a dozen other parameters we could have looked at, but originally, the only thing he told me he was interested in was the free formaldehyde.

And in a later conversation, Darth all but admitted he had been given the information when we were talking about the free formaldehyde and he said, “I should have thought of that! It is comparable to another product we have.” I decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Monday, September 8, 2008

CHRISTMAS - A Good Time to Eliminate People!

The one day away from the confines of Gamma Supplies did help me put things in perspective. While talking to Ed, my former office partner at Florida, I realized how distorted my view of things had become and how much stress I was under. It seemed as though my values and belief in myself had been warped by my exposure to the barrage of criticism I had endured at Gamma Supplies. It really frightened me, but I didn't see any way out of my present predicament.

My relationship with Ravi had not improved, and he and John continually kept me under constant pressure. The extreme stress I was under began to show up in physical symptoms. Initially it was nothing more serious that frequent colds and fatigue, but in early October, I developed an irregular heart beat. At first the palpitations were just a skipped beat now and then, but their occurrence was becoming more and more frequent. Finally, one evening as I was driving home, my heart started racing out of control. I wasn't sure what was happening, and I quickly pulled my car off the road. I sat there for a minute or two while my heart raced at triple time. I was frightened and wasn't sure what to do. Then, just as suddenly as it had started, my heart rate dropped down to its normal beat pattern. I cautiously resumed my trip home. When I arrived home I did not say anything to
my wife for fear of alarming her.

The next day I called the Chicago Medical Clinic and asked for an appointment. Since I was new to the area, I had to describe my problem to a nurse who finally gave me an appointment with Dr. Agayoff. The problem was I would have to wait two weeks to see internist Dr. Agayoff. I was not too pleased about waiting that long, but I already knew what the problem was and as long as my heart didn't act up again like the previous night, I could wait.

That same week we were scheduled to have another management meeting. Again I decided to confront Darth with the situation with Ravi and John. The meeting was held at the West End Inn and we were to discuss a short scenario we had been given and we would also discuss the process of evaluating personnel. The scenario we were given was titled “Excelsior Bakeries, Inc.” and it presented the classic problem of the conflict which arises when a person is suddenly made manager over people with whom he has been long time friends. I was particularly interested in Darth's analysis since he had gone to Chicago's Business School. Again my expectations were not fulfilled as the morning discussion never addressed the basic issue of the paper. Instead we talked about assembly line operations, which was of little value to us, since we had no assembly line. And Darth carefully avoided the subject of conflict among company personnel which was prevalent in the Excelsior scenario.

I was going to talk to Darth at the noon break, but instead he, Jay and I went to a local foundry to see Better Supplies's “Fast Set” being used in production. After watching production at the foundry for awhile, we returned to the inn.

The afternoon session was equally uninformative and we adjourned around three
o'clock. As everyone was leaving the room I collared Darth and said we had to talk. I told him I was fed up with the situation in the laboratory and that either Ravi went or I was leaving. I told him I had a phenolic resin which worked well, and Ravi was blocking my efforts to do further research on it. Darth was prepared.

He said, “Ravi will be fired and you will be given his job, but we can't do it now.”

I was puzzled. “Why not?” I asked.

“We don't want to fire him until after G. T. leaves for Florida in December. Besides, if we do it at Christmas time, the rest of the people are busy with the holidays and they don't think about it,” replied Darth.

This was the first of many Christmases that would be used to "eliminate" someone from the work environment. To this day I still hate the Christmas holiday!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Think One by SUGGESTION!

My earlier laboratory results had shown that one particular phenolic resin worked
particularly well in Gamma's “Rapid Set” formulation. This was an important result, and there was a need to identify why that particular material worked so well and then to characterize that particular material. However, before I did that, I wanted to find out what was going on at Gamma Supplies. I decided to run a little test.

Before I went to Blackwater for analytical data, I decided to tell Darth and Dave some of my results. We met in my office and I explained my results to them. Darth quickly asked why I thought one particular material worked well. I knew what answer Darth wanted, but I deliberately gave him an answer that was not supportive of Gamma's cause. Darth sat there, visibley annoyed, commented on my interesting results and then queried as to when I would have my analytical results supporting my conclusion. I told him it would be a while because it was a long drive to Blackdwater and I wanted to wait until I had lots of samples for analysis. That way I could make the most efficient use of my time and spend the entire day on their equipment. Darth said fine and the meeting was adjourned. He made no attempt
to question my conclusions, and he offered no alternative explanation.

About a week later I passed Darth in the hall, and as we passed he shouted out
something. Since I didn't understand what he had said, I stopped him and asked him to repeat it.

“One is the magic number.” Then he turned and continued on his way.

Several days later he walked through the lab and as he passed me he said, “Think one!”

This scenario was repeated on two other occasions, and I knew what Darth was telling me. The phenolic resin which worked so well was what polymer chemists call monomeric, or as a layman would say, it had a unit of one. I had been certain that was the case all along, but I was not going to confirm it with analytical data until I found out how Darth was going to tell what was wanted for the legal battle. Finally, I went to Blackwater and obtained the analytical data which quickly confirmed the phenolic resin which had worked well was indeed low molecular weight or near monomeric. When I returned to the laboratory the next day, I informed Darth that my initial conclusion that the desired material was polymeric was wrong and that I was surprised to find that “one” was indeed the magic number. Darth was relieved.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Frustration, Frustration Frustration

As work on the quality control committee progressed, I became more and more
disenchanted. I was working hard at learning all I could about the product processes so changes could be made. Darth would verbally support all of the groups recommendations, but nothing was done. One day in early November, I was preparing for a meeting, when I sat back and reflected on the situation. Every couple of weeks we would meet in Darth's office, discuss our findings, recommend actions that should be taken, get Darth's support and approval and then nothing would happen.

At the next meeting I was going to address the lack of progress. I took my notes from the previous meeting and made up a list of seventeen actions which was supposed to have occurred in the intervening two weeks. I also noted the person who was responsible for implementing the change. I wanted to find out why nothing was being done.

I started the next quality control meeting by saying I wanted to go over what had been done since the last time. Darth tried to steer the meeting in another direction, but I was insistent. I took out my list, and one by one I addressed the expected actions and the person responsible. The answer was always the same; the people responsible had done nothing and they acted like they could care less. Finally, when I had completed the list, Darth turned to me and said, “Russ, how may items were you responsible for?”

“Three,” I replied.

“Well you only did two of them. See you didn't do all you were suppose to.”

I sat there in disbelief. No one else in the room had done anything, and Jordan was reprimanding me. He said nothing more to the other people. Once again I was wrong. Then we went on to business as usual.

I left the meeting feeling frustrated and with little enthusiasm for the quality control work. Darth was suppose to be all-powerful in the company and he was verbally supporting all of our recommendations, yet he said and did nothing when no actions were being taken. The feeling of frustration and failure was further enforced by the actions of another committee which had been formed at about the same time as our quality control committee. That group was responsible for identifying cost problems in production and then taking corrective actions. Ralph Sampson was a group member and he dutifully kept me abreast of their work. In direct contrast to our group, their group was being successful in carrying out corrective actions and they were achieving results. I was baffled by the difference in the results of the two groups.

My work in the laboratory was going well, and I had solved the major problem of not having adequate analytical facilities at Gamma Supplies by gaining access to equipment at the University of Wisconsin, Blackwater. In a stroke of luck, I had learned that my former office partner from the University of Florida was now a professor at the U. of Wisc., Blackwater. I quickly contacted him and gained permission to use the equipment there. Not only did it make my work easier, but there was no cost to Gamma Supplies which resulted in a savings of several thousand dollars in analytical fees. The analytical data was absolutely essential to support our technical position in the legal battle against Tenneland. Despite
all the other activity, winning the lawsuit was still the major objective of my work.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Mighty Dictator

Darth's power and appearance of total control was reinforced by Paul Johnson and Ralph Sampson. Pauk commented that Darth treated everyone the way that I was being treated.

Ralph came in one day and said, “Darth is treating you the way the Chinese treats their prisoners. He likes to break people down, and then he molds them the way he likes them." He laughed and then departed.

I did not find his comment humorous at all, and I thought the analogy to the communist treatment of prisoners was not a totally inaccurate description. Jay Wells reiterated that Darth had the Cline's ear and he had the final word in everything. The bottom line was that Darth was all powerful in Gamma Supplies.

More subtle means of conveying Darth's power ran from the ridiculous to the sublime. During quality control studies of a particular product, the question arose as to how to determine the point in time when a reaction was complete in order that the product could be drummed and a new batch could be started as quickly as possible. I was discussing the problem with Jay and I suggested we put a torque meter on the stirrer shaft, since there was a sharp increase in the thickness of the product when the reaction was complete. Jay said he didn't like the idea. When I asked why he said, “Well, Darth told me we should hook up an amp meter to the stirrer motors and then measure the increase in the current on the motors when the reaction became complete.” After some more discussion, I said fine, and eventually the quality control committee agreed to recommend Darth's solution to the
problem to Darth for action. The incident enforced the idea that all changes came from Darth and more importantly, it placed Jay as Darth's official spokesman in the quality control group. It again appeared that Darth was undermining my position in the quality control group. This was after Darth took great pains to tell the group that I was heading up the task force. It looked like the old “magic act” again.

To make sure that Darth had actually told Jay that the amp meter was the solution Darth wanted, when we presented our group findings to Darth I said, “Of course, we did consider monitoring the torque on the stirrer as an alternative. What do you think of that?”

Darth just glared at me as if to say, what do you think you are doing, you
insubordinate? Then he said, “The amp meter should work fine”.

I remained silent the rest of the meeting.

The ridiculous means of conveying Darth's position of power took very subtle
psychological forms. In Darth's office, across from his desk, was a couch which was very low. When you sat on the couch, your knees came up to your chest, making the occupant quit uncomfortable. One day I was talking with Jay and I mentioned a book I had read by Michael Korda called Power. In the book, Mr. Korda related how some managers arrange their furniture in their office to give them a position of power when they talked with someone. It is a subtle form of intimidation. One example in Korda's book was about a manager who had his furniture so low that the people in his office felt uncomfortable, and the manager from behind his desk had a feeling of towering over his subjects. For a vertically challenged person like Darth, he probably wanted to feel he towered over other people.

JaY blurted out, “Yeah, just like Darth's couch.”

I said, “Yes, exactly like that.”

We both laughed and I didn't think anymore of the conversation until a couple of days later. I went into Darth's office , sat down on the couch and was surprised that the couch had been raised to a comfortable level. The timing relative to my conversation with Jay bothered me immensely. And this was another time when something I told a coworker in private seemed to have made its way to one of my managers. I was baffled as to why that should be happening.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Benevolent Dictator

Darth laid the groundwork during the first meeting and formally appointed me the secretary for the group. The responsibility he gave me in front of the group was far less that what he had privately discussed with me. The task was simple; we were to look at quality control practices in the plant and in the lab, recommend ways to improve the practices and then implement the recommended changes. Since the people responsible for carrying out any recommended changes were part of the group, the changes should take place with relative ease. Thus, an opportunity to impact Gamma's poor business practices appeared possible, and the changes would have Darth's blessing which was essential.

Darth was emerging more and more as the one man who oversaw everything and who had to approve all changes. His power was conveyed in direct ways and in some subtle ways. In one instance I had written a monthly report that I had which showed the results of some work I had done which indicated that the patent application submitted by Ravi and Darth could be circumvented by a simple chemical trick. The procedure which I had tested would allow other companies to essentially use our system. A couple of days later, Darth called Ravi and me into his office and gave us a lecture on how he would make all decisions on how the Tenneland legal battle would be fought. He emphasized that it was not my job to do that. I was a little confused, because I had made no attempt to steer the direction of the legal battle, but the timing of the meeting in relation to my monthly report and Darth's direct remarks to me implied that Darth thought I had. I left the meeting feeling his comments were irrelevant to the issues at hand, but Darth did emphasize his total control.

The meeting also served to reinforce the idea that everything I did was wrong. I ouldn't do anything right. It was like a child with a domineering parent or a marriage with a verbally abusive spouse. What I couldn't see was how the constant belittling of me was wearing down my self confidence and self-esteem.
On one occasion Darth and I were discussing authority, decision making and general business practices in relation to the task of the quality control committee. At one point Darth paused and said, “Russ, the best form of management is the BENEVOLENT DICTATOR.” The message was clear. You did not discuss policy with Darth, because what he said was the way things were to be and, of course Darth was benevolent.

The Magic Act

Another aspect of my social life which was pleasant was my membership in Club Tennis. The club was a new facility located just north of the Gamma Supplies site and consisted of indoor and outdoor tennis courts, an exercise room with Universal weight machines, saunas, whirlpools, swimming pool and sun rooms. Ordinarily we would not have been able to afford the membership, but several Gamma employees started a company membership drive which entitled all employees to a reduced corporate rate. Since I had always been physically active, the access to such an indoor facility was a blessing when it came to enduring the long cold Chicago winters.

It soon became routine for me to stop at Club Tennis on my way home to exercises and enjoy a sauna. When the weather turned cold Anita and I would play tennis on the indoor courts at least once a week, and we attended various social events which Club Tennis sponsored. Membership in Club Tennis was an excellent fringe benefit for all Gamma employees.

Shortly after we moved into our new home, we met our three neighbors. The elderly couple adjacent to us was quiet and lead a rather secluded life, Other than to say an occasional hello, we spoke very little with each other.

On the other hand, Jane and Bill Krane lived just down the road from us, and they were about our age. We soon became friends and would get together for dinner or just to have a drink and talk about the Williamsburg area. Bill was a native of the area and was quite knowledgeable about the local history and folklore. The Kranes also had know the previous owners of our house and knew a lot about the design and construction or our house, the surrounding plants and the landscaping. In fact, the previous owners had left with them a complete file of when each shrub, bush and tree had been purchased and where it had been planted.

The third neighbor was Zed Murphy, a local attorney. He, along with his wife and two kids lived in a restored farm house that was situated across the highway from us. Zed was also originally from the area, a successful lawyer in Williamsburg and was now a gentleman farmer. Zed, in addition to being a good neighbor, would become my personal attorney.

If one looked at my life at this point at Gamma Supplies, I had what I came to call a magician's life. A magician waves his left hand about to keep you distracted from what the right hand is doing. But it is the right hand that pulls the rabbit from the magician's hiding place to pull off the trick. That was my life. I had what appeared to be a good life and acceptance at Gamma Supplies. I had a nice house (although Gamma had no connection to that), I went to pro football games, I belonged to a tennis club, I was part of a management group, I went to dinner with the owner of the company and I was well paid. But while all the visible parts of my environment(the left hand) appeared great, my problems on the job were overwhelming. I had constant conflict with my immediate boss, open hostility by the workers in the lab, no authority to make any changes, no support from Darth and my only real role was to work on the phenolic resin for the Gamma Supplies' “Rapid Set” system and to build a technical base for the patent lawsuit defense. The latter two items had never even been mentioned to me until I began working for the company. So while things looked good from the outside, on the inside work environment(the right hand) things were very bad. This type of scenario became what I called the magic act or magician's life.

In early October, Darth came to me and said he was starting a committee to look into the quality control of Gamma's products, and that I, along with Bill James, George Landry, Jay Wells and Darth, would form the task force. I was to head the project and keep all records. I was pleased for two reasons. First, Gamma Supplies had a very high return rate of products because of poor quality, and this was an opportunity to implement some practices to correct that situation. Second, it gave me an opportunity to become familiar with the myriad of products which Gamma produced and sold. In one conversation, Carl Host had related to Tenneland personnel that Gamma Supplies had over five hundred products on its books. Also the quality control committee would also give me the opportunity to get to know some of the personal and work habits of the managers of the other areas.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Head of the Clan

That fall I attended one other Green Bay game with tickets I procured through one of
the salesmen at Gamma Supplies. I was told that if I wanted to go to any of the games, just see that salesmen and I could get tickets. The implication was that the tickets were available to me because I was important to the company and Green Bay Packer tickets were hard to come by in Chicaqgo. I was the only non-sales, Gamma Supplies personnel with access to the football game tickets.

Another way my social life was used to reflect my status in the company by the social interaction with G. T. Cline and his wife. I was discreetly told Mr. Cline wanted to have dinner with Anita and me, but of course, I was not to tell Ravi about this meeting. G. T. lived in a magnificent house located on the drive along Lake Michigan in Blue Fish Bay.

When we arrived at his house, Mrs. Cline greeted us, sat us in the living room and then told us about her family and grandchildren while we waited for Mr. Cline to arrive. G. T. came in, sat down and briefly told us about his family, expounded on his wealth and then drove us to the Full Sails for dinner.

During dinner G. T. unraveled his tale about how he had accumulated his fortune. Now he was Chairman of the Gamma Supplies, Restco and Cline Advertising Company of Madison, Inc. Each of his three sons was the President of one of the three companies.

G. T. had amassed his fortune by building a chain of independent service stations in the Chicago area, and then he sold out to a major oil company. Throughout dinner, W. T. related how he had built his Empire. I sat there thinking about how all evening all he had talked about was how wealthy he was. It seemed like the only value he saw in his own life came from his wealth. At the same time, I couldn't help but get the feeling that despite all of his success, he appeared to be a very bitter man. In fact, he hardly mentioned his sons except to point out that he had given each one a company to run, and the only time he mentioned his daughter was when he was bragging about the price of a house she had sold in Door County in northern Wisconsin. I expressed a lot of interest in his business success
and spent most of the evening just listening. Anita and G. T.'s wife said very little during the evening. That evening was the last time I would have any social interaction with the G. T. Cline family.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Book publisher wanted!

I was a bit stunned but replied, “Well, I'm married and didn't think I
belonged there.”

“Well, here at Delta Oil, we work hard and play hard and I wanted to make sure you knew those women at the party were there for you,” Josh continued.

As I left his office I wondered if those women were a company expense which is why Jack gave me the message. And I never could shake the thought that the whole party incident was a setup for future blackmail. From that point on, I never attended another Friday after-work gathering.

Another event which was satisfying was the availability of tickets to the Green Bay Packers football games. In early September, Darth came walking through the laboratory and said he had four tickets to the Sunday game in Green Bay and wanted to know if anyone was interested in them. I quickly said I would like to take my wife and John and Jeff took the other two tickets. Later, I talked to John and Jeff and invited them to ride along with my with me my wife. Since our house was on the way, I thought it would give Anita and I a chance to socialize with John and Jeff. After all, I was still trying to befriend them.

I was thrilled. Not only was I going to get to see my first pro football game live, I was going to see my favorite team, the Green Bay Packers. Somehow, despite growing up on the East Coast, I had become an avid Green Bay fan during their illustrious Vince Lombardi era. And although the team had fallen on bad times, I remained a loyal fan.

That Sunday John and Jeff arrived in John's pickup truck and after a brief tour of our new home, we departed for Green Bay. That day was to be the only day in one and a half years that anyone from Gamma Supplies would enter our house.

The weather was perfect with a cool fall breeze, a sunny blue sky and moderate temperatures. During our drive north, John remained true to form and talked nonstop on any and every subject that came up. It was a relief to get to the stadium and hear the roar of the crowd in lieu of John's verbal barrage.

Green Bay's loss that day did not distract from the excitement of the game. The return trip to Williamsburg was relatively quiet, since John was tired from all of the beer that he had consumed. On the way back home, I extended an invitation to John and Jeff to join us for some hamburgers when we arrived home. Both of them quickly refused. I repeated the offer and Anita also requested that they stay for some dinner, but both were adamant in their refusal.

When we arrived at our home, John and Jeff got out of the car and headed directly to John's pickup truck. John was the first to notice that the rear window of his truck was totally shattered. Since the truck had been parked in the rear of the house, out of sight and a considerable distance from the highway, no errant stone or flying object had caused the breakage. The glass from the broken window was on the truck seat so the window had been smashed inward and had not exploded outward from the force of some temperature build-up within the cab. After we helped John bi clean up the mess, John and Jeff left with no explaination as to what had happened. Overlooked in the incident was our invitation to join us for dinner.