I Burn My Bridges About As Often As Cubs Go To The World Series

burning-bridgeI am a laid back kind of guy. Oh, I will advocate for things I believe in like PSA testing, childhood vaccinations, Hillary Clinton, and a timely construction schedule, but my psyche prefers resolution to conflict. Had my career path taken me to the law rather than medicine, I am sure I would have been a arbitrator rather than an aggressive trial attorney. In politics, I would have been NAFTA not nukes. As Barb says, I don't burn my bridges.

That all made events in 2005 tough. The hospital I had served in was closing most of its lab as it converted to a different type of institution. On a steamy, traffic snarled Friday afternoon I was summoned to the office of the President of the pathology group I had been a partner and Board member of for more than a decade. The purpose was to discuss my new role with the group, which served several hospitals in the Chicago area.  The very private meeting was short, and compactly summed up in the five words which the President issued. "Your role is no role."

No, I didn't shake the President's hand on the way out. But I didn't scream, yell or slam any doors either. We (and our respective attorneys) negotiated a settlement, and I moved on to establish the top-notch lab that I have directed for the last ten years. The President and I maintained occasional telephone contact and even discussed another job opportunity a few years later. Barb has always been amazed that I am willing to speak to him; I just haven't been able to bring out a torch and start a fire.

But I got a phone call yesterday. Not from the old President, who has recently retired, but from his successor. She had a business question for me. I was about to answer, to give my usual assistance, when it all came flooding back. You see, this woman had been Vice-President of our group. She had been the one other person present in the room when the "verdict" came down in 2005. This woman, who had previously supported me and had once even encouraged me to seek  the President position in the group, sat in that office and said nothing.

With her phone call yesterday it became clear I needed to burn a bridge.  I didn't lose my cool, but I did tell her what I thought of her inaction 10 years ago, how cowardly it was for her and the rest of the Board of Directors to allow me to be discharged. Her defense, that she had been young and naive, that the President manipulated the situation, was flimsy, but probably had a small morsel of truth. She told me she  eventually  came to understand that it was the most unjust decision she had made in her career. But that realization was never accompanied by a note or phone call of consideration or apology. And until yesterday, I never told her what I thought of her. Now I have, and it felt as good as saying "The Cubs are in the World Series."


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photo credit: davidyuweb <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/55514420@N00/26132776395">Burning Sky</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>

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