In the past few years I have learned a very important lesson that I believe is worth sharing. We all hear quotes and phrases, but sometimes it takes a swift ‘punch in the face’ to really take the lesson to heart and apply it to everyday life. The lesson that I started applying…

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Back in 2009, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I had just been separated from some friends and was trying to catch up with them. One minute I was talking to my friend on the phone and, as I later realized, not paying enough attention to my surroundings. The next I was awoken to a circle of people surrounding me while I lay in a pool of my own blood. Needless to say my friend quickly found me.

From the witness stories I pieced together, I was blind-sighted with a punch to the face by a, as you can imagine, very disturbed man. The punch, which came from behind, greeted my face right in between my cheek bone and temple. It’s true what they say, “Getting hit in the temple knocks a person immediately unconscious.” As a result it causes them to fall to the ground very hard with no reservation, in my case putting a rather large gash in my head and leaving me with a concussion.

If injuries from assault are severe enough, the state presses charges against the criminal. I had a choice to put him in jail or make him pay the thousands in medical bills I had covered from that night’s trip to the ER. On the day I was subpoenaed to court, encountering the guy consciously for the first time, I was laid off from my job. Awesome timing, right? Feeling vulnerable, I opted for him to pay my medical bills. It was under the condition that if he didn’t pay he’d go to jail.

After months and months of receiving very low, sporadic payments followed by calls to the prosecutor to complain, there was a drought in payment for three straight months. On the fourth month I received a payment in the amount of $20. This payment of less than $7 a month was finally the straw that broke the camels back. I was done being the victim and ready to move on. The guy was continuing to sprinkle my life negatively months after the assault, as he salted my wounds with a measly $20 reminder of the experience and money I was out. The only person affected was me, and I was over it. I called and wrote the judge demanding he be placed in jail.

He paid every two weeks after that.

The Human Reaction

I don’t particularly like talking about this incident. It’s very awkward to explain. On occasion when I have told the story, I am asked the same questions every time. “How do you have such a light attitude towards that?” or “How are you not more angry?” It, of course, didn’t happen immediately, but I’m not angry because I grew a ton from the experience. A bad situation taught me, among other things, that the squeaky wheel really does get the grease.

Something very common among us humans is our natural instinct to become comfortable. In fact, we like being comfortable so much, that we tell ourselves that speaking up or pushing for things, in certain situations, is more work than it’s worth. We just accept what is put in front of us as something we cannot change, and instead of going out of our comfort zone for a split second to achieve something we want or need, we sit and let the thing we want pester us. We have all done it.

Always remember that people can’t read minds. Everyone has their own agenda. Life happens. People don’t follow up on things that aren’t placed before them as important. Don’t get comfortable accepting things you don’t like. Instead of sitting around dealing with a situation internally, speak up and change it.

Speak Up & Take Action

I work for Guru and we are working extremely hard at redesigning the entire website. Playing catch up with our competitors has been the goal for the company for a few years now. Thinking about other devices wasn’t even an option for most of the people in this company. I have always thought this would be our biggest weakness by the time our site was up to par and actively a competing with the other companies like us. I knew this was a big issue that would continue to keep us behind the competition in the next few years so I started talking to my boss about responsive design here and there. You know, just dropping hints at what needed to be done.

A few months back the Guru website went down for 24 hours straight. The outage happened to fall on the last day of sales for early bird tickets to Build Responsively, a responsive web design conference in Pittsburgh I had my eye on. I knew I needed to ask for the 2 days off to attend, but the timing couldn’t have been any worse.

Despite how difficult it was internally to muster up the courage, I asked. Not only did my co-worker and I get the days off, our boss bought the tickets for us to attend after his company income was $0 for the day. A lot of times when we think it seems wrong to ask for things, it’s a much smaller deal than we realize. He saw the bigger picture despite our bad day, and didn’t hesitate to purchase the investment.

The first Guru responsive design project is now in development and scheduled to go live this summer. Speak up, get results.