“Perverse Verse–Part 2”

“Perverse Verse–Part 2”


Break Room 2Get those pictures pronto.  Take two or three, just to make sure they're good ones.  And make sure you include something that lets us know it's near the break room.  Also, print them out and timestamp the back of the photos with the time clock.  Then give them to Margaret.  I'll be in touch."

Shana did as instructed and produced three photos.  When she returned to the shop floor later that day, the sign was gone.  "Boy, is Jess smart," she thought.

As expected, Billy went directly to the union and grieved the termination, which eventually went to arbitration.  Jess flew in from corporate to represent the company at the arbitration.  Margaret, Shana, and Rob were also in attendance.

Billy had the union's business agent for his defense and Tommy as a character witness.

Rob began by giving his side of the story, which Billy flatly denied.  Then Tommy was called to testify by the business agent.

"Tell me, Tommy," the business agent asked, "how would you describe Billy's work?"

"Excellent, like he's the best.  I've learned everything from him," Tommy said.

"How about his interpersonal skills?  Does he get along with others?"

"Oh, everyone thinks Billy's the greatest.  He's always polite and considerate.  I should know; I sit next to him all day long.  Like, if he goes for a cup of coffee at break time and it's not convenient for me to pull away at that moment, he offers to bring me back a Coke.  I mean, he's that kind of guy."

"Have you ever heard Billy argue with anyone or use profanity?"

"No, never.  Billy's got three small kids.  He's real careful about that sort of thing.  He's often told me that he thinks foul language can be as habit-forming as drugs, and he wouldn't consider doing drugs.  Nope, not Billy.  The guy is just a prince," Tommy expounded sincerely.

"Tell me, Tommy, were you the only other person present when this alleged exchange took place between Rob and Billy?"

"Yes.  No one else was there during their discussion,” Tommy answered.

"And did you ever hear any part of the conversation that Rob claims took place between them?"

"No way," Tommy lied flawlessly.

"Thank you, Tommy," the business agent responded and turned to Jess.  "I have no further questions."

With his opportunity to begin questioning, Jess stood up and slowly moved toward Tommy.  "Tell me something, Tommy, is it true that you have a reputation for being the company poet–recording humorous events in the work place?"

"Well, yes,” Tommy said, knowing that there was no way to deny his talent.

"Does anyone else in the company do this sort of thing?"

"Nope, only me," Tommy beamed proudly.

"Is it true that your co-workers have asked you to draft up a verse on special occasions–say a retirement party or promotional party?"

"Sure, I do it all the time."

"Does there always have to be a special occasion?"

"Well, no, if I see something humorous, I usually write it up."

"How do you communicate your rhymes to others?"

"Oh, I usually paint them on a big piece of cardboard and put it on the shop floor by the break room to give the guys a laugh when they go for . . ."  Tommy had gotten so carried away talking about his talents that by the time he realized what he had done, it was too late.

Jess reached open a folder and handed Tommy a copy of the verse, and presented another copy to the arbitrator.

"Is this an example of your work found on the shop floor less than thirty minutes after the incident between Rob and Billy?" Jess asked with a clear sense of satisfaction in his tone.

Tommy looked at Billy and sheepishly grinned.  "I'm sorry, pal, but they have me."

The arbitrator ruled in favor of the company.


If Rob consistently criticized Billy in front of the other workers, it is not surprising that Billy was insubordinate.  This situation looks like a power play.  Rob lost a good technician, and Billy lost his job.  If Rob had handled this and other problems confidentially, the outcome may have been different.


What about Tommy?  He committed perjury by lying under oath in an effort to damage the company's interests and used company equipment for unauthorized purposes.  An arbitrator would surely sustain the imposition of some discipline, perhaps even discharge (depending on Tommy's prior work record) for this misconduct.

Excerpted from Outrageous Conduct:  Bizarre Behavior at Work©

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