Oswald Letter

Karma crumples rude commuter’s chance at a job

subwayby Dan Oswald

Have you ever wondered why good things happen to bad people? I know I have. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, but I must admit that sometimes I scratch my head and wonder how someone with questionable character or who demonstrates unethical behavior seemingly ends up on top.

The other day, I heard a story that made me smile. For me, it was proof that karma does exist and that sometimes the jackass reaps what he sows. Here’s the story.

Matt Buckland was riding to work on London’s subway, known as the Tube, one morning last week. As he tells the story, “I stood to one side to let a lady get by, and ended up blocking a man momentarily. He shoved past me, almost knocking me over, and shouted.” What the man shouted isn’t appropriate for a family audience. Let’s just say it involved a four-letter word that begins with F.

To most of us, this story isn’t all that surprising. We all encounter rude people on a routine basis. Who among us hasn’t had a similar thing happen to them on their way to work? But Buckland’s story didn’t end when the jerk pushed by him. In fact, that was just the beginning of the story.

You see, Buckland is the head of recruiting at UK-based Forward Partners. Later that day, he was scheduled to interview someone for a developer’s job with the company. Guess who walked in the door for the interview? You got it—the jerk from the Tube.

Buckland tweeted that day, “Karma—the guy who pushed past me on the tube and then suggested I go F myself just arrived for his interview . . . with me.” You gotta love social media!

And in case you’re wondering, the jerk didn’t get the job. Big surprise there!

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden said, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” Well, in this case, the man on the Tube showed his true colors when people were watching—he just didn’t know his actions would come back to haunt him. Who knows if he might have received a job offer that day if he hadn’t acted as he did? It does make you think about our interview processes and how we can get fooled by well-behaved candidates who know how the game is played. I can’t imagine the man would have behaved the same way in an interview as he did during that morning’s commute.

We want to hire team players who can get along with those around them and treat others with respect, and how someone treats other people—all people—tells you a lot about that person’s character and goodness. In this case, Buckland and Forward Partners dodged a bullet. We should all be so lucky as to have a chance encounter on the subway with every person we interview just to see how they respond when they don’t think anyone who matters is watching.