“Horsing Around”

“Horsing Around”


Every company has a cadre of colorful characters. You can find them anywhere from the mail room to the boardroom. These employees seem to have an unending capacity to cajole, irritate, astonish, or frustrate. Typically, they are outstanding performers, so we tolerate their eccentricities and tend to keep them on staff. One thing is certain–they leave a lasting impression. It's not surprising, then, that in our reverie, we often find ourselves repeating sighs of disbelief and continue to shake our heads in amazement as we are reminded of their unconventional antics.


Joe discovered it late Saturday afternoon after Marcie had already left. He decided to wait until Monday to confront her about it. He looked at the unpacked boxesWoman Riding Horse2 in his sparkling new office to try to calm down. He couldn't. He was still broiling when Marcie breezed through the door and casually plopped down on the chair across from his desk. She was grinning her famous carefree grin.

"Hi, Joe, so what's up?"

"What's up?" he mocked her, attempting to control his anger. "I'd like an explanation about last Saturday's display in the lobby. I can't believe that you would . . ."

"I don't know what the big deal is all about," she interrupted. "Personally, I thought I was doing the company a favor by coming in on Saturday to help with the move to our new facility. Giving up my Saturday was a major sacrifice. It interfered with the time I always spend with Hattie. Overtime pay or not, Hattie expects to see me on Saturdays, and I just couldn't skip. She'd be too disappointed. And since she's boarded only three miles from the office, I thought, `Why not?' So I rode her over, parked her in the lobby, and pitched in to do my share. After all, it was only for a few hours."

Joe was not buying it.

"Quit looking at me like that, Joe. Really, I just think you're making a mountain out of a molehill. Look, we were vacating the building, and horses just do those things. It's perfectly natural. Besides, a cleaning crew was already scheduled to follow for the final sweep to disinfect and deodorize."

Joe was still not talking. He just sat there and glared at her.

"Look, Joe, we got our deposit back," she said scrambling. "No one was hurt, and we're all moved. I don't understand why you're so upset."


Joe let his shock over Marcie's outrageous behavior cloud his ability to properly handle this case. He should have told Marcie that by leaving a large animal unattended in a public building, she endangered her co-workers and put the company at unnecessary risk. If the horse became frightened, people could have been hurt and more than a cleaning crew would be required to handle the property damage. This approach would have given Marcie a realistic perspective on her actions.


To paraphrase General Schwartzkopf, this episode of equine scatology does not appear to pose any particular legal issue.

Excerpted from Outrageous Conduct: Bizarre Behavior at Work©


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