Thursday, February 02, 2006
Whoopsy, Who's Bad?
This week, I made a mistake. I don't admit it very often but I must this time. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to the old saying, 'After pride, comes the fall.' I have always prided myself on my knowledge of every adage, maxim, tired cliche, nuance, and inflection of the particular Redneck dialect of the English language that is spoken in this general area. I suppose that is where I overestimated my ability to communicate with people.
I had just finished giving the weekly safety meeting and was lingering to talk to a driver about his therepy from an ankle injury. A new employee came into the meeting room and requested the day off. I could see that his eyes were red and he was in an obvious state of agitation so I give him my most sympethetic, 'Sure, What's Up?' He looks up at me and states, ' I lost my child.' I then proceeded to tell him that I was sorry and to go ahead and take as much time as he needed.
Both of us being fathers, the driver and I discussed how we didn't know how we could handle such a loss. On my way back to my office, I stopped by the administrative assistant's desk and told her that the employee would not be coming in and if the company paid bereavement pay for employees before the end of their probationary period. She asked why and I told her what I had been told and she said that she would check. I also told her that she might call her friend the florist and see about sending a plant or some flowers from the folks here at the plant.
The next morning, the new employee came into my office and said that he needed to clear up a misunderstanding. He said that the child was not dead but that his girlfriend, the baby's mother, had taken the baby and he didn't know where they had gone. He had received a call and someone sent their condolences for the death of his child. He thought and thought on who could have started this rumour and came back to his words of that morning and his telling of his loss.
It being a small town the news had spread quickly from prayer groups to coffee shops. Numerous retellings of the story had transformed this sad tale into several stories ranging from death due to illness all the way to the story of the childs mother murdering the baby and then commiting suicide. All this from our sending a plant when the father had wanted a day off of work after the loss of his child.
I do not wish to make light of his troubles but damnit I wish that he would have made himself clear. You lose your keys or you lose that condom that you keep under the seat of the car but you do not explain your girlfriend taking the baby and hauling ass as 'losing your child'. Most guys in that situation would simply say, 'My old lady hauled ass with my young 'un and I need the day off to track her ass down.'
I hope that the child is fine and that soon he hears from the mother. But maybe I need to give a questionaire to prospective employees. Just to see if they speak the same language.