4 Employees Clearly Suffering from Stockholm Syndrome
You should stay loyal to your spouse. You should stay loyal to the home team. You should stay loyal to your horse. But must you stay loyal to your company?
Sure, to a point. We don’t recommend smuggling away trade secrets and trying to sell them to a competitor. But there’s a limit to how much of yourself you should give, and we think the following workers might have gone overboard.
Delta Employees Pitched in $30 Million to Buy Delta a New Passenger Plane
In 1982, a bunch of airlines were laying off employees, but Delta kept theirs on and gave them a raise, even though the company had just experienced its first-ever quarterly loss. A handful of flight attendants got to talking about a way to show their appreciation, and one of them joked about buying Delta a new plane. Which was nuts, since the one they had their eyes set on cost $30 million. Still, they went and bought it anyway.
The idea was that thousands of employees would each donate a percentage of their paycheck. At first, not that many workers were into the plan, but in the end, 77 percent of them were pressured into saying yes — not pressured by management but pressured by the employee-run campaign. Then some retired employees said, “Hey, we don’t have paychecks to donate from anymore, but we want to be part of this, too!” Then outsiders wanted to be part of the project as well, with one actual orphanage donating money, individual little kids donating a few cents each.
The result was a plane dubbed The Spirit of Delta. The airline flew it for two decades and has now preserved it in a museum. Naturally, these days, Delta shares the story of the plane as an inspiring tale about the unity of the Delta family. Plenty of other people even today look back at this as some proof that company loyalty used to be a thing, and we need to return to that era. But we can’t help but look at what happened and say it’s insane, and not in a good way.
If Delta needed another Boeing 767, Delta was the one best equipped to make that purchase, not Delta employees. If they don’t have the cash handy, a company can get loans, or can turn to investors. The aircraft then counts as a capital expenditure and can be depreciated over several years and is tax deductible — and okay, we’re not experts on this subject, but you know who is? Delta management.
Want to show your appreciation for your company? Just do your job well. The company values that. They value that even more than they value what measly money you have, which is why they trade you money in exchange for your work. You, on the other hand, value money more, money you can spend on stuff like beer and pants. Donating money to a company that’s making over a billion in revenue this year makes as much sense as showing your patriotism by sending a check to the Federal Reserve.
Market Basket Workers Led a Company Boycott When Their CEO Got Fired
This is the story of two men. One was named Arthur Demoulas. The other was also named Arthur Demoulas. They were cousins, both descendants of another man, also named Arthur Demoulas. As funny as it would be to refer to all of them as “Arthur Demoulas” for the rest of this article, we’re instead going to call one of them Mike and the second one Steve, based on their middle names.
The first Arthur Demoulas founded the supermarket chain Market Basket in 1917, and grandson Mike became president in 2008. Rival grandson Steve wanted him out, and Steve got his wish because Steve had control over the board of directors. Thousands of employees then went on strike and urged a customer boycott of the chain. The boycott cost Market Basket tens of millions of dollars.
The employee protest baffled onlookers. At other companies, workers were striking for money or benefits, but not at Market Basket, where workers already had all that. No, they were just asking for Mike to get his job back.
Which is understandable when the fired supervisor is low-level enough that everyone knows him, but this was the CEO. Who loves their CEO? Most of the time, the only CEOs with that level of support among workers are those who cultivate cult followings, because they run an actual cult — and then later, we learn the truth, and it turns out they’re pure evil, far worse than the ordinary unknown CEO.
The standoff over Mike resolved, in time. It resolved when he bought control of the board, from Steve and from others, for $1.5 billion. Yeah, Mike might have been the underdog hero in this story (not an evil cult leader, by all accounts, just a genuinely beloved boss), but no one ever said he was a poor underdog hero.
One Employee at Ashely Madison Said She Was in Charge of Making Fake Accounts
If you have ever been unfortunate enough to use the internet, you have been besieged by bots pretending to be single women. Indeed, a large percentage of those reading this article right now are bots pretending to be single women. But have you ever thought about how much work it is, creating these fakes?
Probably not, since bots just get cranked out of the bot machine en masse. But let’s talk about a different type of fake internet woman: the fake dating profile. A lot of female dating profiles are fake, since the men seeking connections on such sites otherwise would greatly outnumber the women, for some strange reason. Ashley Madison is a site specifically catering to married people looking to have an affair, and the public wasn’t terribly surprised in 2015 to learn that over 80 percent of Ashley Madison accounts belonged to men. Even so, the public was a little surprised to learn that only 0.03 percent of those already less-than-numerous female profiles belonged to real people. The rest were fake.
Creating convincing fake profiles took a lot of work. We learned this through a lawsuit filed by one Doriana Silva, who moved from Brazil to Toronto a decade ago and then found herself tasked with creating 1,000 fake profiles for the launch of the Portuguese version of Ashley Madison. While this was just a fraction of the total fake profiles such a site would need, we’re imagining some system of bespoke profiles followed by an algorithm to create additional ones.
Silva sued, saying the work had given her a repetitive stress injury, and the company had brushed off her complaints. The company denied all the allegations, and said if she had such a serious hand injury, why was she posting so much on Facebook, eh? She deleted her Facebook account, which the company called destruction of evidence, even though it is the correct choice for anyone under most circumstances.
Ashley Madison not only defended themselves — they countersued Silva for $100,000, for holding on to work product. Such countersuits are common in situations like this. In the end, both suits were dismissed, not as a result of any ruling on the facts but because they were taking so long and Canada had more important things to worry about. The company settled with Silva out of court. The fake profiles, meanwhile, gained sentience, took on human form and now walk among us.
A Librarian Died and Left All His Money to the University
Robert Morin worked as a librarian at the University of New Hampshire for almost 50 years. His was not a very exciting job. Some librarians spend a lot of time directly assisting people, or going to war, but Morin’s job was to catalogue items, year after year. Still, there are some benefits to a relaxing life. He had plenty of time to devote to his hobby: reading every single book published in the United States during the 1930s.
Morin lived frugally. People noted that he never went out, and he dined on frozen meals every night. When he died in 2016 at the age of 77, people were therefore surprised to learn he was a millionaire. He left behind $4 million, and he willed it all not to his two living brothers but to the University of New Hampshire.
His will said something about allocating some of it to the library where he’d spent so much time, so that’s where $100,000 of it went, toward staffing costs. The university was free to do whatever it wanted with the remainder. They spent some $2.5 million of it on the campus career center. People really got angry, however, when they learned how UNH was spending the final $1 million. The college used it to buy a new video scoreboard for the football stadium. The stadium had already recently received a renovation, which had cost $25 million. The library, meanwhile, continued to have an open message asking patrons for donations to keep it running.
The saddest part of the scoreboard story might be the press office’s attempt to label this a tribute to Morin. The librarian had spent his final days in an assisted-living facility, they noted, where he had “started watching football games on television, mastering the rules and names of the players and teams.” In this world, there are football fans, and there are people you would not categorize as football fans. If someone only learns the rules of the game in the final year of their life, because that’s what’s on TV in the nursing home and no one’s providing him with all the 1930s books he really wants to lose himself in, that is not someone we would call a football fan.
Obviously, Morin’s name didn’t appear anywhere on the scoreboard. But at least it did wind up engraved on a small bench that was installed outside the library.