Split Personality–Part 1
"Quinn Forrest, human resources," Quinn responded as he picked up his phone.
"Quinn, this is Alice," announced Alice Hanover, the assembly unit supervisor. "I need your assistance again with Caldonia Beecher," she sighed.
"Oh, is she simply 'Cantankerous Caldonia' today? Or do we have the dreaded fire-spewing 'Beecher Behemoth' approaching meltdown?" Quinn joked.
Quinn reflected for a moment. Caldonia Beecher's recent erratic behavior had become somewhat of an enigma. When Quinn first talked with Caldonia during her employment interview, she presented herself as a shy, demure person. He never anticipated that her dramatic moods swings would put the entire unit on alert. One moment she would joke merrily with co-workers. Then, without warning, she would blast a barrage of verbal blows with such force that half her co-workers would run for cover. Moments later, as quickly as it began, her fury would dissipate and she would return to work as though nothing had happened. In the meantime, she left a trail of shell-shocked casualties strewn throughout the unit.
Alice and Quinn counseled Caldonia after the first incident, and again after the second. Caldonia's genuine remorse and her charming manner were bewitching. Both were convinced that she would improve.
"No, Quinn," Alice said, interrupting his thoughts. "This is not the same type of problem. Caldonia told me she hurt her back on the job about a week ago, so we'll need to set her up for a visit with the company medical lab for x-rays and file a workers' compensation claim."
"Oh, I see," Quinn said, a little relieved that he would not have to tend to the walking wounded she often left in her wake. "Send her to the office, and we'll get the paperwork started."
When Caldonia arrived, Quinn's assistant had her fill out a series of forms and waivers. It was company policy that a drug test be administered to anyone who claimed an occupational injury. Quinn's assistant explained the procedures to Caldonia after she completed the forms.
"Ms. Beecher, here is the address of the Lastalon Medical Laboratory. Your appointment is at 1 p.m. tomorrow. They will review your case and then take all the required blood and urine tests as well as x-rays so we can process your claim," Quinn's assistant explained.
The next afternoon, Quinn received an unexpected call from the Lastalon Medical Laboratory. "We've got a problem here, Mr. Forrest," the technician said. "Your employee refuses to take the drug test. What do you want me to do?"
"Put her on the phone," Quinn said, wondering why Caldonia was being uncooperative.
Before Quinn got a chance to say hello, Caldonia began shouting, "What the hell's the deal here? No one ever told me that I had to take a drug test. You people have a lot of nerve messin' with me. This is a bunch of crap! Tell these creeps to keep their grimy paws off of me. What the hell does my backache have to do with drugs anyway?" Caldonia screamed directly in Quinn's ear. This was the first time Quinn was the direct target of the legendary Beecher belligerence.
"Caldonia, I'd appreciate it if you'd control the tone of your voice. There are other people in the laboratory, and you could be disturbing them," Quinn reminded her.
Quinn's unwavering, calm tone seemed to placate her a bit. "I'm just aggravated," Caldonia complained, still somewhat riled. "It's just hard to stay calm when I get so mad . . . but I'll try."
"Caldonia, remember when my assistant gave you those forms to sign? Those forms said that you agreed to take a drug test. She explained that you would be taking blood and urine tests."
"Yes . . . well . . . maybe I just don't remember what she was telling me 'cause my back hurt so bad. I thought the urine test was to see if my kidneys were hurt from my accident," Caldonia claimed.
"Caldonia, a urine test might reveal problems like that too, but we specifically must test for drugs. You signed a form that explicitly states you agreed to a drug test. This is part of our company policy. Now, are you going to take the test so we can help you with your claim?" Quinn asked patiently.
"I suppose," she sulked.
When the lab called with the results, Quinn was informed that Caldonia tested positive for cocaine. Since company policy stated that anyone who tested positive for illegal drugs must be discharged immediately, he called Caldonia to his office and explained the test results.
Caldonia listened politely to Quinn's explanation for her termination. When he finished, Caldonia replied with genuine innocence, "Well, that's just not possible, Mr. Forrest. I have never taken drugs in my life. I don't even take aspirin because of my allergies. Why, I can't imagine what would happened if I ever took cocaine. With my asthma, I'd be dead faster than a fly on a frog's tongue." In a honeyed voice she added, "Tell me, Mr. Forrest, could those lab boys possibly be mistaken?"
"They are very careful, Caldonia, so it's quite unlikely–maybe one in a thousand," Quinn responded, as her beguiling charm began to influence him.
"Well, can I retake the test?" she pleaded, with a credible "I'm-innocent-please-believe-me" expression on her face.
Since barely 24 hours had passed, Quinn acquiesced. "Okay," he told her, "but you will have to pay for the second test."
"That's fair," she smiled congenially.
"Why don't you go down around 4 o'clock today," Quinn suggested.
About 4:15 p.m. Quinn received a call from the lab. "Mr. Forrest, we have another problem."
"What's the matter now?" he asked, feeling his stomach start to tense.
"Ms. Beecher's sample is unusable," the technician reported.
"Can you explain that?"
It's too cold," the tech stated.
"Yes, our procedure is to check the temperature on a urine sample immediately after we receive it," the tech explained.
"Hers was well below the acceptable temperature for urine that just left the body."
"But didn't she provide it to you on-site?" Quinn asked.
"Yes, she did. She gave the sample to the nurse when she came out of the rest room," the tech answered.
"So, the urine must have come from someone else."
"How do you figure?"
"We don't know for sure. But she has her daughter with her, and she asked if her daughter could use our rest room when they first got here. When we said yes, the nurse observed Ms. Beecher follow her daughter in. So it's possible Ms. Beecher switched her urine for her daughter's. She may have kept it in some type of container in her purse. We can't tell you exactly where it came from. We just know it can't be hers."
"Please tell Ms. Beecher to come to the phone. Tell her I'd like to speak with her," Quinn requested, beginning to feel exasperated with Caldonia's alleged shenanigans.
"Caldonia, you're going to have to go back to the bathroom and provide another sample," Quinn told her.
Clearly irritated, Caldonia asked, "Why, what's the matter?"
"For some reason the sample is unusable," Quinn relpied.
"Unusable? What do you mean, unusable?" she railed loudly.
"It's considered a cold sample and it's unusable," he explained. "That means that for some reason it didn't come out of you right there."
"That's ridiculous," she fumed. "It's mine."
"Well, you need to do it again."
"I'm not going to do it again!" she boomed.
"Unfortunately, you have to."
"I won't. I'm coming in to see you tomorrow morning," she blared shrilly and crashed the receiver down.
The next morning Caldonia showed up in Quinn's office as promised. No anger–she was all smiles. When Quinn's assistant directed Caldonia to a seat, she took on an angelic pose. Puzzled, Quinn stared at her, wondering where he was going to begin. But there she sat, casting her spell and looking like Saint Caldonia.
Quinn promised himself he would not allow her to con him this time. "Caldonia, is there anything you can think of that would first, cause you to test positive, and second, explain the cold sample?"
"Well, maybe you got my sister instead of me," she offered, in the most plausible tones.
"What do you mean?"
"I have a twin sister," Caldonia stated.
"Did you send your twin sister down to the clinic?" he asked in amazement. "Why would you send someone else?"
"I'm not saying," Caldonia declined.
"What's your twin sister's name?"
"Her name is Caldonia too."
Twin sister? What did Caldonia have up her sleeve? To find out, click here for Part 2.
Excerpted from Sex, Laws, & Stereotypes, by N. Elizabeth Fried, Ph.D.©