Most modern corporations look for ways to make their employes happy. And if not happy, at least not angry.
They use devices ranging from soothing piped-in music to a good company cafeteria to cut-rate memberships in health clubs. A few provide their own racquetball clubs, saunas and swimming pools. There are recognition banquets for those celebrating anniversaries at the company. Christmas parties, profit-sharing plans, golf outings, company picnics and all sorts of morale boosters.
Executives are also taught not to rant, scream, swear, threaten, bully or choke employes. Instead, they are trained to be calm, reasonable, diplomatic, subtle and to speak in a friendly manner, with everyone from the chairman of the board to the janitor happily chirping "good morning" and "have a nice day" at one another. Ah, but then we have Edward Mike Davis, a Texas oil-man who has become something of a legendary figure in many American corporate executive suites.
What has made him a legend is a memo he once sent to his employes at Tiger Oil Co. in Houston.
This memo has since been Xeroxed and copies have been passed around all over the country, and when executives read it, their jaws usually drop.
The memo sets forth Davis' rules for those who work for him.
Now, most companies have rules. But they are usually stated in unemotional, impersonal, nonthreatening, businesslike terms.
Davis' approach is a little different. I don't have space for most of his rules, but here are a few of the more interesting ones, beginning with the first paragraph of the memo:
"In case anyone who does not know who owns Tiger Oil Co. or Tiger Drilling Co. Inc., it is me Edward Mike Davis. Do not let anyone think they are the owner but me.
"We do not pay starvation wages, and there are some people in this world who want to work. I am not fond of hippies, long-hairs, sex fiends or alcoholics. I suggest each and every person in a supervisory category (from driller up to me) eliminate these people.
". . . Anyone who lets their hair grow below their ears to where I can't see their ears means they don't wash. If they don't wash, they stink, and if they stink I don't want the sonofabitch around me.
"Any driver or employe who ruins a piece of equipment due to negligence or abuse will be terminated immediately by his boss. And if the boss doesn't do this then the boss will be terminated by Mike Davis.
"Each truck driver will either sleep in his truck or get a room for at least six hours sleep per each 24 hours, and not be found in a bar drinking anything, and that includes beer. You want to drink, then drink on your own time and your own money and not mine. Anyone popping pills to stay awake will be discharged immediately. You will be watched and monitored wherever you drive.
"The supervision of you will be more strict now than ever. If you do not want to work for me, pick up your check now, or work under my conditions.
"All scraps of metal, nails, pieces of pipe, etc., will be picked up and not left laying (sic) around. I want to see someone bend over other than me."
He lists many other rules and usually concludes them by saying that those who don't follow them "will be terminated."
"Any employe who does not want to adhere to the items mentioned above can quit. If any of you think I will go out of business because I can't hire help -- get out and I will hire the people to do the work. I don't need a job -- you people are the ones who need to get with it.
"There is one thing that differentiates me from my employes. I am a known sonofabitch, and I care to remain that way. I have the privilege of swearing publicly, in front of anyone, of doing anything I want to because I pay the bills.
"When you work for me, you don't have that privilege. You are representing me. Don't act as I do. I am the only one who can act that way . . . ."
The very next day, he had some further thoughts. So he sent out an "addendum and addition" to the above memo. It said:
"When you are on the road or out doing my business, that is exactly what I expect you to do 100 percent. I do not want any fabricated expense accounts, drinking or carousing around on my money . . . .
"This will apply to all geologists, geophysicists, and whoever the hell it may concern who works for me.
"If you don't like it, you can do the same thing the ones in the first memo got told -- pick up your check . . . .
"If I don't pay you enough money to do these things you want to do personally, then I suggest you ask for a raise or quit and get another job.
"Don't take advantage of me because I am going to be looking down your throat. You need the job -- and I don't!
"Do not speak to me when you see me. If I want to speak to you, I will do so. I want to save my throat. I don't want to ruin it by saying hello to all you sons of bitches."
After I read Davis' memo, I asked my secretary to see if she could get him on the phone. I wanted to talk to someone who could express himself so directly and clearly.
Davis' secretary said he was out of town, then later said he would be tied up for a couple of days in meetings.
"Why does he want to talk to Mr. Davis?" the secretary asked.
"Because my boss has read his memo, the one about . . . " and she quoted some of the choicer lines, including the snappy ending.
"Oh, that one," said Davis' secretary. "Why does he want to talk to Mr. Davis about it?"
"Because he thinks it is a wonderful memo," my secretary said. "He says Mr. Davis sounds like his kind of guy."
"In that case," Mr. Davis' secretary said, "you have my sympathy, dear."