True Story, Grace Will Bear Me Out: Mr. Guy

I've been reading a lot recently about people claiming they are self-made successes, that they achieved all they achieved because they're just so gosh-darn special, and if you're not a success, well, gosh-darn it, it's your fault. They don't owe nobody nuthin', and if anyone dares suggest they got where they are because they live in a society that makes their success possible, or they had aid and assistance from others along the way, well, gosh-darn it, you just don't know how gosh-darn special they are.

So I wanna tell you a little story about a guy we'll call...Mr. Guy.[1]

Mr. Guy was a TV writer and a dang fine one.  He was the go-to guy for the networks when they had a show in trouble,

When Mr. Guy decided to hang out his shingle and become a producer on his own, the networks were eager to buy shows from him.

As I said, Mr. Guy was smart and talented, smart enough to know he couldn't produce his shows on his own, and talented enough to recognize talent in other people.  So he soon acquired a dynamite writing staff, one of the best in the business.

For several years everything went well for Mr. Guy and his company and his staff.  Their shows were hits and recognized as being both original and better executed than his competitors' shows.

It's called show business for a reason, and while Mr. Guy was aces in the show department, he needed help in the business end, so he hired a Suit to help him run the front office.

One day The Suit took it upon himself to talk to the writing staff.

The Suit made it abundantly clear that the success of the studio was entirely dependent on Mr. Guy, that he came up with all the good ideas, that he shaped the shows and materials, and that the writing staff was lucky to be allowed to help Mr. Guy execute these ideas.[2]

Long story short, fifteen minutes after The Suit left the conference room, every writer was on the phone with his / her agent.  Two weeks after that Mr. Guy began hemorrhaging writers, and within a month 90% of his staff was gone.

That year Mr. Guy's shows did not do so well.  Nor the following year, nor the year after that.  Mr. Guy found it difficult to attract the really top writers, and the writers he did attract seemed more interested in parroting back whatever he suggested rather than do anything new or original or innovative.

Or fun.

The ratings dropped, the show orders dropped, in the end Mr. Guy's company was absorbed by a competitor.  Most of his original writing staff migrated to another company, and that company then enjoyed a hot run as the studio with the best written and most popular shows in town.

Belatedly, Mr. Guy learned about what The Suit had done.  He invited The Suit to lunch.  The Suit went, thinking they'd be discussing an extension of his contract.  Instead, between the appetizer and the main course, workers emptied The Suit's office, put his personal belongings in a box in the lobby, and changed the lock on his office door.

When dessert arrived Mr. Guy informed The Suit he was fired.

Mr. Guy went on to do other things, but his moment of glory, his hot run as head of the best studio in town was over and that chance never presented itself to him again.

And it was through no fault of his own, simply an imbecilic over-eager employee who sandbagged him and his entire company.

So when I hear people telling other people about how gosh-darn wonderful they are because they're so gosh-darn successful and they did it all by their gosh-darn selves, by heck, I just lean back and smile.

There's a Suit in their future...




[1]  Mr. Guy is a real person.  Mr. Guy is a nice guy, and as the story will bear out, not the villain of this piece.  So I am deliberately obscuring as many identifying details as possible; people in the know will figure out who he is ASAP, but nobody else has to be clued in.  Mr. Guy has suffered enough already.

[2]  God only knows what possessed The Suit to say this; it certainly wasn't anything Mr. Guy felt or believed.  Perhaps The Suit was trying to curry favor with Mr. Guy by championing him, perhaps The Suit was ignorant of the true scope of the writing staff's contributions, perhaps The Suit was an arrogant jackass. I think you can safely bet the heart transplant money on the latter.


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