Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Impact of One Decision

A writer writes!

Several years ago a friend of mine was terminated from employment from his administrative position.  At the time of the firing he was living a comfortable life.  With two kids, a wife, and a mortgage he was living out the promise of the fruits of the civil rights years of the 1960s.  He was a college graduate, inquisitive, and eager to give his best towards his job.  He was also part of the new breed of minority African American male professional workers in the Federal government.  He was using the opportunity to have a well paying administrative position to provide for the future of his family.

Unfortunately those he worked for did not value his inquisitive nature.  He was told to do as he was told and not to question the status quo.  He began to be perceived as a troublesome person who thought he knew it all.  His supervisor began to regret having given him the chance to work in her organization.  Disciplinary actions followed.  It was a method his supervisor chose with the advice of  Human Resources to show him who was in charge and that his behavior needed to change.  It became clear to  him that he was primarily expected to shut up and do as he was told.

He still spoke his mind wanting to be valued for being able to think and perform beyond being just competent.  He did not want to be "average".  He dressed well, and spoke well.  He was not what the work place was used to seeing in an African American male.  One day I was in a "Work Place Violence" class with his supervisor and one of my friend's co-workers.  His supervisor started asking questions about people's behavior and what that behavior might mean.  It was clear to me that the supervisor was thinking about my friend.  She was already judging him to be an angry Black man capable of violent acts at the work place. He was being painted as being the angry black man.

Several months later he was removed from his job. Fired for allegedly shaking his supervisor.  What followed was the inevitable.  Tension arose between his wife and him which lead to a divorce.  The house they had together became his wife's home which she later sold to move to another home.  His two boys no longer saw their father every day.  My friend searched for another job, but due to the stigma of "work place violence" on his record, the options were few.  He now survives via a minimum wage job, the luxuries of the past no longer available.

The whole situation was a tragedy.  He and his supervisor unfortunately were not able to work out differences.  An unfriendly Human Resources Office guided the supervisor into a life changing decision for my friend.  His life and the life of his family were disrupted and some would say ruined.  A bad decision on his part was not forgiven by his supervisor.  His supervisor took advantage of the opportunity to get rid of him, and that is what happened.  Since he was fired he has not had any instances of "work place violence" at other jobs he has worked at.  He has committed no criminal acts.

One decision.  One decision by my friend.  One decision by his supervisor and the Human Resources Department that advised the supervisor.  That was all that disrupted his life and the life of his family.  At your job or in your personal life, be aware that it only takes one decision to change the course of your life and those who depend on you.  Decide carefully.

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