Friday, April 2, 2010

My Ears Made Me Rich.

In my childhood I was blessedly healthy in every respect except for a particular problem with my hearing. My problem was background noise. My parents lived with background noise, by a railway line, under the Heathrow fly-path, with the radio or television always on. My way of compensating was to focus on my parent’s lips, to “see” what they said to me. I learnt to read their lips.

My lip-reading skills evolved in kindergarten and school, which were also noisy environments. I graduated from University with no difficulty – background noise in college lecture halls did not exist. But by then I had honed my special skill beyond direct eye-to-lip contact. I became very good at reading lips from a distance, and in profile. Of course people with moustaches and beards presented special difficulties - but generally I saw enough to get the gist of their conversation.

After graduation, my workplace was fun – open plan and noisy, sometimes sexy, full of hardworking, likeable and intelligent people. From my swivel office chair, I could see into the boardroom, and into every glass-clad office occupied by a director. So my lip-reading skills kept me well informed of management discussions and plans – well in advance of any formal information being trickled down to the staff.

I became well-liked by my fellow workers for my “guesses” about the next pay rise, for my “thoughts” about who was to be promoted, or my “concerns” over an imminent de-selection (management-speak for sacking an employee).

My meteoric rise to the very top was based on knowledge. After only two years of lip-reading from afar, I knew which directors were insider-trading on the stock market, fiddling the books, and having extra-marital affairs. And I let them know I knew. So they promoted me. Then they promoted me more. Then they started promoting me at each other’s expense.

I’m top dog now, and earning a fortune. From my glass-clad office, I can see all my staff, and lip-read to my heart’s content.

And I sport a very bushy beard. You can’t be too careful now-days, can you?


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