He Cast A Long Dark Shadow


     He was 58. Apparently he fought a long battle with cancer that was so severe, he had half his face removed.

The news left me a little shaken. Not sad, just numb.

i was his first hire when he was sent to run the branch office of his company in our city. He was a cruel and manipulative man.

He also had a racist and anti-semitic streak. His father abandoned him as a child. His mother remarried and his Jewish stepfather sent

him to live at an orphanage across the street. It must have had a huge effect on his psyche. He would make us work up to 22 hours a day


just so he would have company. I used to work six weekend out of eight. 

One night he was overheard saying (in a public space at work) that he wished Hitler had killed all the Jews. I was desperate to succeed and pretty much took everything he threw at me. ` I garnered international recognition for my work at the age of 23. A campaign I designed for an luxury sports car  promoted a personal letter of congratulations from the CEO. 

I no longer felt comfortable working for him. I had a relationship with a woman at work and he decided to go after her. I guess all's fair in love and war, but he asked for her phone number one night and called her. That night he left a little earlier than usual.

He stole credit for my work and the work of others. He brazenly took credit for the success of brands he'd never worked on.

He ran a number of brands into the ground and he drove a lot of good people away, including me. I approached him several times

about the possibility of transferring to the head office. He refused. I was headhunted away

After I left, the owner of the company flew into town to talk with me and asked why I was leaving. I was less than candid, believing that it was not a 

good idea to burn bridges.

Even after I left the company, I'd run into him at industry events and he always found a way to say something nasty.  

He went on to have a very successful career with company. Ultimately he shafted the owner of the company taking the man's job. 

Today I read an obituary that stopped just short of sanctifying him. I found that a little disorienting. 

I guess the thing that bothered me most was that he cast such a long dark shadow over my career. When I left, he told me I'd never make it. 

It's not that I wanted or needed his approval, but he had a way of undermining people. A lot of people who worked for him, were shells of their former selves. He micro -managed everything they did. Two committed suicide and another became a drunk. Most would eventually leave to get out from under his shadow. 

I am trying to work through my feelings about this, but I guess the fact that he's now dead makes me mad at myself for letting the man have any influence over my life.  Going forward I want to purge myself of all the negativity and darkness in people who have tried to lord it over me. 

The sad irony is, he was always about keeping face and in the end he couldn't stop the cancer from ravaging it. 

penguinswon penguinswon
2 Responses Mar 3, 2010

Perhaps his shadow can shrink now. He sounds like a malignant narcissist, someone who has to denigrate others constantly to reinforce his self-image as emperor of the universe. People like this do often get praise lavished on them. Some choose to be a satellite circling around a maniacal ego. At least you left his orbit.

Yes, it's sad how people feel compelled to project the hate and self loathing they feel onto others...As you say his mind was probably messed up from his unhappy childhood. I wouldn't wish cancer on anyone, but it sounds like Karma got him in the end...