Beware of Flying Objects–Part 1
Logan was particularly preoccupied that morning when he walked into his office at 7:30 a.m. There was a noon deadline for a payroll report, and he wanted to get an early start to check some figures before authorizing the computer run. When he entered his office, he never noticed Tanesia Martin and her supervisor, Charlotte James, sitting at the small, round conference table on the left. Instead he turned right, headed toward his desk, and began to slip off his jacket.
"Ahem," Charlotte coughed politely to let Logan know that she and Tanesia were present. "Excuse me, Logan."
Startled, Logan wheeled around, knocking over the coat tree as he tried to regain his balance. "Oh, gosh, Charlotte, it's you. I was so deep in thought, I didn't even see anyone sitting there."
"I'm sorry, Logan. I wasn't planning to ambush you," she smiled, and then took a serious tone. "We have a problem."
"What's up?" Logan asked, as he leaned over to pick up the coat tree and hang up his jacket.
"Logan, this is Tanesia Martin, a member of the assembly team," Charlotte said.
Logan walked over and extended his hand to Tanesia. "Hello, Tanesia," he greeted her as they shook hands. Then Logan pulled out a chair from the table and joined them.
"We had an incident this morning in the cafeteria," Charlotte began. "Tanesia claims her ex-boyfriend tried to assault her with a coffee cup."
Logan surveyed Tanesia. She didn't appear to have any bruises. "Tell me what happened, Tanesia," he said.
"Well, I used to date Adam Franklin, who works out in shipping," Tanesia responded. "We went out together for about six months. Then I decided I wasn't interested anymore and told him we should stop seeing each other. He seemed okay about it, but last night when he found out I went out with someone else, he sort of lost it."
"Lost it? How? What exactly happened?"
"Well, usually Adam is pretty reasonable, but when he saw me in the cafeteria, he started yelling and screaming at me. I think he must've been drinking or something."
"What did he say?"
"He said, 'How could you do this to me? How could you humiliate me like this? Why don't you just rub my face in it? Of all the people to go out with, why did you have to pick a damn white boy?'" As Tanesia spoke, her eyes began to moisten. "But I wouldn't look up from my coffee, I was just so embarrassed. Everyone heard him. It was awful," she flushed.
"Then, because I wouldn't look at him," Tanesia continued, "he got so mad, he sent this coffee cup whizzing right past my face. He only missed me by this much," she cried, lifting her hand to show about a quarter-inch distance between her thumb and index finger. "He could have put my eye out or knocked me unconscious!"
"I'm sorry this happened to you, Tanesia," Logan responded sympathetically. "Who else was present in the cafeteria?"
Tanesia gave him a list of other individuals, and he wrote down all their names. "How large a man is Adam?" Logan asked next, attempting to "size up" the extent of the problem.
"Just medium height and weight," Tanesia responded.
Logan relaxed slightly. "Do you want to press charges?"
"No, I just don't ever want him to humiliate or hurt me," Tanesia said. "I'm afraid."
"We'll make sure you feel safe in the plant," Logan assured her and asked her if she wanted to go home. Tanesia declined the offer and returned to work. Logan promised to investigate the matter.
Logan immediately pulled Adam's file and then called Matt Johnson, the shipping department supervisor, and briefed him on the cafeteria incident.
"I can't believe Adam would do something like that, it’s totally out of character," Matt informed Logan. "Adam has always been a terrific employee with a positive attitude. Look, I've known him for five years, and we've got a good relationship–let me talk with him first and see what I can find out. I'll get right back to you once I can get to the bottom of things."
Matt invited Adam to his office for a private conversation. He could tell by Adam's behavior and the strong smell of alcohol that Adam had been drinking. Matt got right to the point. "I just got a disturbing call from the human resources department about an incident in the cafeteria. Do you want to tell me about it?"
"I'm sorry, Matt, I just lost my head. I was so upset about Tanesia going out with someone else that I started drinking last night and never went home. Before I knew it, it was dawn, so I just came to work. When I saw her at breakfast, I was just so hurt that I couldn't stand it and blew my cool. I know what I did was wrong," Adam said, looking at the floor.
"I understand how you must have felt, but I can't condone your actions," Matt said. "Right now, however, I think it's best that you leave the plant and get some rest. We'll arrange for a cab to drive you home safely. Then I'd like you to get some sleep and sober up. I'll need to call human resources and take care of the particulars. Are you comfortable with that?"
"Yes, I guess so," Adam said quietly. "I really am sorry, Matt. Am I going to lose my job?"
Excerpted from Sex, Laws, & Stereogypes, by N. Elizabeth Fried, Ph.D.©