We’ve had some crud going on around here that defies explanation. It’s made the local newspapers, some regional rags, and become fodder for discussion around the state. There are a lot of eyes on our state and local governments with all the budget cuts, staff shuffles, and related situations, so everybody on the respective payrolls is under quite a lot of scrutiny from the public.
The work day can bring with it some challenges that call for one’s full attention so the most efficient use of time can be realized. A lot of folks are working harder than ever to get blood from the turnip and they don’t need their jobs made harder with distractions from office politics, personality clashes, and inappropriate behavior both in and out of the work place. When folks are trying to work through what we’ve been hearing about around here for the past few months, it is no surprise to learn that some employees are actively seeking work elsewhere.
Everybody’s entitled to an occasional misstep – a moment regretted as soon as it happened, one for which apologies are quickly forthcoming and a concerted effort to correct the behavior is offered from the offender and not demanded by others.
Traveling around the state doing interviews with folks in other municipalities for my graduate thesis, I tell people I’m from Winder-Barrow County. You don’t want to know how many times their first response is, “Wow, y’all really have some stuff going on there with (insert your favorite local scandal here), don’t you?” Since some of the incidents have been admitted by the offenders – and with no apology or remorse noted, mind you -- it’s not like the reply can be, “Well, don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers.”
It ain’t okay. To add insult to injury, now we’re reading about the offenders making excuses for themselves by pointing fingers at other people to try to justify their actions. As my mother used to tell me when I was a kid, “Well, if so-and-so jumped off a cliff, does that make it okay for you to do it, too?” These people are not kids; they are adults who should know better.
Southerners like to use stories to make a point:
Years ago before anyone had heard of a cell phone beyond the wrist phones we’d seen in a Dick Tracy comic strip, a friend told me a story about a guy named Herb who’d gone to play golf with his bachelor buddy Fred. The guys had a 7:30 am tee time and they were planning to play 18 holes so Herb’s wife was expecting them for lunch no later than Noon.
When suppertime arrived and still no guys, she started getting a little worried. By the time Herb sauntered in the back door at 8:30 that night, worry had turned to something very different. Yet she had vowed to keep her cool and hear his story.
“Whe-ere have you been!?!” she inquired. “This better be good! I expected you two at Noon and you come parading in here at 8:30. Y’all had a 7:30 tee time – where have you been all day?” Realizing Herb was alone, she added: “Where’s Fred?”
“Now just calm down,” Herb said. “We were on the second hole when Fred had a heart attack.”
She felt bad. “Oh, my goodness! How is he?”
“Well, the EMTs came and I went with him to the hospital,” Herb explained. “The doctors decided it was an angina attack, but they’re keeping him overnight for observation.”
“Wait a minute, if you had a 7:30 tee time and he had the attack on the second hole, that doesn’t explain where you’ve been the rest of the day.”
Incredulous, Herb pleaded with his wife: “Have you ever played golf with somebody you think has had a heart attack? I’d have to hit the ball and drag Fred, hit the ball and drag Fred…”
What that says is this: We’ve got some folks whose behavior has become a dead weight. I don’t care how good they are at their jobs; their patterns of behavior have become serious distractions for the folks trying to get some positive things done around here.
It’s time to quietly pack up your clubs and go play another course. Don’t drag the rest of us through the muck anymore. The lawyer fees are an expense we cannot afford.
Helen Person is a columnist for the Barrow Journal. E-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.