We have all watched the drama of Lindsay Lohan’s life unfold. What is disturbing is the similarities her journey shares with Michael Jackson’s. Indeed, as Jackson’s manslaughter trial against Dr. Conrad Murray winds down more than a few folks have voiced concern about Lohan’s multi-level decline, how aged she looks and how she continues to push everyone and everything to the edge. Early fame consumed Lohan and Jackson, two adorable children who grew into famous celebrities who consistently thumbed their noses at authority. Consequently, they have both spent a lot of money on attorneys and a lot of time in courtrooms.

Is navigating a responsible, adult life all that difficult? This brings to mind a column I wrote in April, 2005 during Jackson’s second child molestation trial. I worked in human resources at a newspaper at the time. See if you see some eerily familiar similarities.

April, 2005
Maybe you have had your fill of the celebrity trial of the millennium, but last month, there was an occurrence during the People vs. Michael Jackson trial proceedings that really caught my attention. The world appeared to come to a standstill one morning when Jackson failed to show up for court on time. It wasn’t his first late appearance. It seems Mr. Jackson has a punctuality problem.

On this occasion it appeared that no one, not even Jackson’s trusted attorneys had any idea of his whereabouts. All too aware of the delay, Judge Melville would have none of it. He insisted that Jackson be present in his courtroom immediately. The judge put the gavel down and issued a bench warrant for Jackson’s arrest with a 2-hour deadline.

After speeding through the streets and with mere minutes to spare, Jackson’s entourage screeched to a halt in front of the courthouse. A dazed Jackson wearing pajamas and appearing as if he’d just rolled out of the sack, emerged from his SUV along with a gentleman, presumably his treating physician, holding an opened umbrella above the overdue singer.

It was all too familiar to me in that, even after decades in human resources I am still explaining to employees the importance of CALLING IN TO THE OFFICE IN THE EVENT YOU ARE LATE OR SICK. On the same day as Jackson’s shenanigans, I was at a work explaining to two long-serving employees why our company requires you to call in and talk to your supervisor if you are sick or going to be late to work.

It seems odd to some employees that workplace management and co-workers even care and would move to the verge of concern if their presence in the office is missed. Given our “family-like” company atmosphere, this surprised me. As I explained to both employees (separately of course), we are a place of business and if you are not here, provisions and adjustments must be made.

“Have you heard of the D-I-D Rule,” I asked each of them?

Neither employee appeared to know what I was talking about.

“As you do with your own children, especially teenagers, you expect them to call you if they are going to be late or plans change and they won’t be home at all. Lacking any communication, you will naturally leap to the conclusion that they are, (Heaven forbid) D-I-D: dead-in-a-ditch somewhere. You see, even Judge Melville expects Michael Jackson to call in if he’s ill or late for court,” I replied.

Living life, an authentic life of substance and purpose, requires that you GROW UP and SHOW UP!

Former Santa Barbara County Prosecutor Craig Smith explained, “I’ve never seen a defendant get a police escort. I’ve also never seen a defendant have preferential parking, and be able to line up not one, but two, vehicles right at the curb of the courthouse. I’ve never seen a defendant show up late to court accompanied by his doctor. I’ve seen defendants show up late with a note from their doctor, but not the doctor himself. I’m sure though, that if the doctor didn’t say something persuasive or convincing to the judge, I think the judge was up to his neck in late appearances and if he didn’t feel genuinely that there was a good medical excuse, he probably would have taken (Jackson) into custody.”

While in Key West that Spring I spied a t-shirt in a store window that affirmed my D-I-D Rule. It read, “I’m out of sick days so I’m calling in dead.” It is simply common courtesy and a sign of respect for your employer and co-workers. Thank you, Judge Melville for affirming employers and reminding employees everywhere that the world’s business is run every day, often on urgent deadlines requiring employees to be at work, on time, ready to go. Granted, you aren’t required to show up in your PJ’s escorted by your doctor. But lacking any evidence of your whereabouts, a mortician might be in order!

Ultimately, Jackson and Lohan both ended up in the morgue. It was Jackson’s final trip. As part of her sentence, Lohan is to perform community service by providing janitoral services at the morgue. No surprise, she arrived late for her first day of service. She apparently shares Jackson’s punctuality problem. We can only hope that this is Lohan’s last stop before avoiding the King of Pop’s untimely demise. Let’s pray that the similarities of their journeys end right there.

~From the desk of Becky Morlok~

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