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Thought for the Day: All Actions Leave a Permanent Record

I worked about 10 years for Motorola in Arlington Heights, IL.  It's a reasonable place to work and like most offices now-a-days, we all worked in cubicles.  (The best offices I have had, in fact, were all in graduate school.)  Since the internet there has been another innovation in office work -- you don't have to be geographically co-located with your team.  My last team at Motorola was mostly located in Fort Worth, TX.  So when I left Motorola, I called my manager in Fort Worth to tell him I had found a new position and to work out an exit plan.  As soon as I hung up the phone, two people came around from the adjoining cubicles to wish me well in my new job.  I thanked them, sat back down; then sat straight up!  Yikes!  I started thinking about all the conversations I had had over the last 10 years in the (illusory) privacy of my cubicle.  Its so easy when you don't see someone, even someone separated from you by a couple of thin sheets of cloth.

At the end of the the mishna (Avos 2:1), we are told: seriously contemplate (histakel b-) three things and you won't come to sin: and eye that sees, an ear that understands your motivations, and all of your actions are written in a book.  I can certainly appreciate how keeping in mind that there is someone watching should modify my actions; who hasn't straightened up a bit when someone (even a strander) walks into the room?  I can also appreciate that knowing people are listening will modify a person's actions; as evidenced by how nervous I felt when I had hard evidence that all my "private" conversations were, in fact, quite public.  Moreover, the mishna makes a point of the fact that the listener understands your motivations; no trying to wiggle out of anything by saying "ooops!  darn that google, it sometimes finds the craziest things from even the most innocent searches ... "  But if that doesn't do it, why does it matter that things are written down?  Yes, there is a written record, so I won't be able to argue later, but the mishna says contemplation of these three things right now will stop me from sinning right now.

So let me tell you about my first boss at The Nielsen Co.  He was a vice president in a Fortune 500 company.  Masters degree in statistics.  A wife (high school teacher) and two children (boy and girl, preteens when I knew him).  He lived in Lisle, IL.  Want to know more about him?  Type "gregory d anderson lisle" into google and you'll get a whole page of links to more information.  He was caught in a sting operation having child pornography on his computer.  If you click on the first link you can see a great picture of him.  That happened almost four years ago,  but it just as fresh today as it was then.  Forever more, that's how he will be known and seen; because it is written down.  Not all the links are about his crime; some are about the foreclosure on his house.

An eye watching; that will make you straighten up.  An understanding ear; that closes off all excuses of "oops!  made a mistake".  All the details written down for all to see forever more as fresh as the day they were committed.... that's bone chilling scary.


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