Some people wear the mantle of power and with ease. A title does not erode their basic goodness. Other people … not so much. (More)

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Other people receive a modest title, say supervisor or inspector or president of a homeowners’ association and turn into petty tyrants. They feel bound to enforce stupid rules with ruthless efficiency. You may have encountered these people.

My first boss in corporate America was one of these types. He was very big on punctuality. He stood at the entrance to the bullpen where his crew worked to put out installation instructions and assorted technical literature with a clip board to take attendance. If you didn’t get a close parking spot and were five minutes late, it was duly noted. I came up with a great workaround. We had orange folders for engineering review. If I was late, I went up a floor, took off my coat, and picked up an orange folder before I strolled into the bullpen. I’d show him the folder, smile and say “Up in engineering.”

I didn’t respect him much but that may have had as much to do with my finding out that with a degree I made $650/month while the man who had the same job made $800. The man was Russian, had no degree and couldn’t really speak or especially write English. We were both technical writers. That’s when I first realized that business wasn’t necessarily always totally efficient.

Anyone who has ever owned in a HOA has run into people who think they have the power to command order. It may be the type of mail boxes that are acceptable or the look of your lawn. In my son’s condo association it was the association president who thought it was fine for him to put a rented hot tub in his driveway but not for the other owners. That president was voted out in a special election called after the police were called to stop his very loud parties. Ah, privilege!

Maybe your petty tyrant is the building and codes inspector. Norbrook made this comment a couple of days ago:

One of the most hated people around here is the building and codes inspector. Even his relatives aren’t fond of him. Besides the fact that he tends to drag his feet on stuff that should be rubber stamp items, he’s also known for coming up with “new codes” (which aren’t) to delay or make things more expensive for everyone. As a case in point, one of our contractors told us of dealing with him. This contractor has a second home up here, and was getting ready to build a small pole barn on his property. The code officer said he couldn’t build it himself, he had to have a contractor. Which led to the exchange of “I am a licensed contractor, I do this for a living!” Nope, had to be someone else! Yeesh. My comment to the contractor was “You know, as hated as he is, and as heavily armed as everyone is around here, I’m surprised he’s still alive.”

Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Clearly, not everyone passes the test. When I look at the rhetoric from the Republican candidates, I’m sure I wouldn’t want any of them as my boss. Why would we hire them as our president?