On this particular day, the architect had come to Donald Trump’s office to show him what the interior of the residential elevator cabs would look like.
Trump looked at the panels where the buttons you push to reach a floor were located. He noticed that next to each number were some little dots.
“What’s this?” Trump asked.
“Braille,” the architect replied.
Trump told the architect to take it off, get rid of it.
“We can’t,” the architect said, “It’s the law.”
“Get rid of the (expletive) braille. No blind people are going to live in Trump Tower. Just do it,” Trump yelled back, calling him weak.
The more the architect protested, the angrier Trump got. Donald liked to pick on this guy. As a general rule, Trump thought architects and engineers were weak as compared to construction people. And he loved to torment weak people.
But did he think the architect would remove the Braille from the panels? Never.
I had seen him do this kind of thing before and would again. He would say whatever came into his head. Ordering an underling to do something that was impossible gave Trump the opportunity to castigate a subordinate and also blame him for anything that “went wrong” in connection with the unperformed order later. A Trump-style win-win.
Trump did this with outrageous or just plain stupid ideas, both legal and illegal. Sometimes those lines were blurred.
When he asked me to do something that could not be done, I often fought back, but always at a cost. Sometimes, I just did what he asked, planning for the necessary fix or damage control later.
But many times, I played along with him and then didn’t carry out his order.
So when I saw the snippets of Bob Woodward’s book and the anonymous Op-Ed piece, I wasn’t surprised. To an extent, Trump has always relied on people not to follow his most ridiculous orders.
For instance, he would expect people to lie for him. Did they? Sometimes. I did. If he wanted me to tell the workers that Elton John was going to need the presidential suite at the Plaza by a certain time to push them to get it done, I went along. I knew there really was no deadline and was certainly no Elton John.
I wrote in the Trump Tower offering plan that the marble in the bathrooms was luxurious when I knew it was really made with pieces of marble and crushed marble along with glue called an aggregate.
But I refused to say that the Bonwit Teller building was functionally obsolete, as he wanted me to.
Trump is really not all that different now, but the stakes are higher. And there aren’t many order refusers anymore either. Off the record, staffers tell reporters that Trump is out of control.
But what have they done to try to control him? Steal a memo off his desk so he will forget to sign it?
How about not preparing the memo in the first place? And who refuses to lie for him when he makes his outrageous claims?
They are not saying something silly like Princess Diana is buying an apartment in Trump Tower; they are misleading and deceiving the American public on matters of great importance.
The “just do its” are getting done. And they are not directed at carpenters and painters or fan magazines. Now they’re about alienating allies, cozying up to dictators and employing dangerous nonsensical economic tactics.
The self-aggrandizing Anonymous wants the world to know that there are adults in the room. Really? What the hell are they doing?
Res, vice president in charge of construction at the Trump Organization, is author of “All Alone on the 68th Floor: How One Woman Changed the Face of Construction.”