Sit Next to Me

Alice Roosevelt Longworth embroidered on her sofa pillow, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” Gossip is the chief currency in news and in “news” magazines, so that may now be the majority motto.

Loving gossip isn’t new. Alice Roosevelt became an idol to Progressive Era women around the world, Carl Anthony wrote, and her style of detached disdain is celebrated today.

Two of my acquaintances are worlds apart in that attitude. One whom I’ll call John because his name is John, revels in gossip and in bad news about anyone outside of his own circle of friends. Maybe even within his circle of friends. The other whom I’ll call Juan because his name isn’t, is more data driven.

Juan works for “Infonablah,” an electronics company that is a very likely takeover target. They have a couple of new products and a still-useful older product line. (This is not a Microsoft v. Yahoo story.) The WSJ has reported talks about a joint venture between the large Chinese conglomerate Batooey-dot-com and Infonablah. Juan designs interface modules for Infonablah’s consumer goods division here in Vermont.

Juan foresees Infonablah stocking up on next generation goodies and letting the current customer stuff go to the “low cost” manufacturing centers Batooey maintains in China and on the South Pole. He figures the Batooey engineers are thinking the same thing.

I don’t know that Batooey would give Infonablah its next gen stuff; I think it’s more likely that Infonablah will be stripped and will disappear. Their current customer stuff will definitely go to low cost centers no matter what else happens.

That said, “combining synergies” in B-speak always means more layoffs.

Here’s the heart of it. John doesn’t know Juan but his reaction to this story would be glee when he figured out that Juan’s job might be in jeopardy.

That saddens me.

We peeps spend entirely too much time reveling in the downfall of our peers.

I like gossip as much as the next guy, but Alice was wrong. My mom and hers before her were right. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.


When I wrote this piece, I used TLAs (a three letter acronym for “three letter acronym”) to stand in for the real company names. Juan then worked for DGX, a biz about to be consumed by Wall Street Greed and a Large Chinese Conglomerate (LCC). A quick Google search showed me that DGX is Quest Diagnostics and LCC is the USAirways Group. I neither recommend nor pan these securities.