And Another Thing…

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Angry People and Ballistic Footwear

By now I am sure that most of you have the seen the video or heard about the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush during a press conference in Baghdad. A friend of mine sent an e-mail out asking which of us, in our professional roles, was more likely to get hit by airborne shoes. This got me thinking about the type of work that I do and the number of people I have pissed off over the years in the course of doing my various jobs. There are a lot of them. And some of them have retaliated. I don’t know whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, it simply comes with the territory. Two of the greatest hits include:

The preacher who said that I was a liberal because I wouldn’t pimp Christian colleges as the only option for kids in the youth group. I asked him what he thought would happen to our campus ministries at state schools if parents in the church sent their kids exclusively to Christian colleges. He said, with a straight face, “Who cares? All of our state school ministries are liberal.” Always a pleasure to work with folks with open minds. It lifts the soul.

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When I was running a group home, the sister of one of the residents was obsessed with the notion that we were allowing her sister to live in squalor and go without bathing. The truth is that my staff helped each resident clean their room, change their sheets, and do their laundry on a weekly basis. In addition, every resident showered daily and those that needed assistance bathing received it from my staff. After a year of these groundless accusations, she brought the issue up again in a service planning meeting that included me, the client’s family, the client’s case manager, and representatives from her sheltered workshop. I said to the sister, “You’ve been running your mouth about this for a year and done nothing about it. Your sister gets the same level of care as the rest of the ladies, and I am sick of you saying otherwise. You’re slandering me and my staff. If this is really a concern for you, you need to file a complaint with Adult Protective Services. Otherwise, I don’t want to hear about it again. Put up or shut up.” My boss had my back when she called to complain about it, but chewed me out in private. She also said that I threatened her in the meeting, which was soundly refuted by everyone else who was there. It was still worth it. And I never heard about it again.

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I share these not to elicit a response, but to be honest. And since I have shared, I want to hear from you. What is the worst/stupidest thing that someone has said or done to you in anger at work? What was your response?

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8 Responses

  1. Andy says:

    I’ve done a fair share of basketball officiating in everything from youth leagues to adult leagues to intramurals. At 14 I was scorekeeping in the night leagues in the ghetto-est part of Mesquite, but as scary as some of those guys were, they weren’t half as likely to throw a shoe (or any other projectile) as the parents in the 3rd grade girls league.

  2. Frank says:

    It’s hard to say. So many stories. For a couple reasons, I just can’t tell the better ones in public. What gets to me is that, in so many cases, when anger erupts what it’s supposedly about is nowhere close to what it’s really about.

  3. Micah says:

    I had a guy get mad that we caught him trying to use a already used Gift Card. When he left the store he knocked several games off the shelf onto the floor. I just loudly laughed and said “Wow, really adult of you! Enjoy never coming back!”

    His friend apologized.

    Out side of that. Not much else has happened other than people saying I suck or the store sucks.

  4. odgie says:

    1. Andy – Yeah, people are horrible to refs. I remember fights breaking out at HU over intermural games.

    2. Frank – I was hoping to get some preacher stories out of this…

    3. Micah – I remember working at a store. It amazing how many people regularly show their rears in such places.

  5. Kelly says:

    Once while delivering flowers a woman got mad because she said “the arrangement we brought was tacky and her daughter would never have ordered THAT!” She made me take it back to the shop, and as you probably remember Odgie, that was a no-no for the owner. This was a really expensive piece, but definitely unusual. So the owner made her one costing about a quarter of the one her daughter bought, with almost exclusively carnations (the bologna-sandwich-on-Wonder-bread of floral design) and sent me back with it. The woman LOVED it! She actually said “This looks more like what my daughter would order.”
    I considered sharing the pee-bag story, but I thought it might offend some of your more delicate readers!

  6. odgie says:

    Kelly,

    Please, share the pee-bag story. My readers can take it.

  7. Micah says:

    Wait.. what.. ?

    There is a Pee-Bag story. I need to hear this. If I’m a Pee-Bag is what I think it is, wow! Yes, please.

  8. Kelly says:

    OK, you asked for it, the pee-bag story:
    I was working in a state institution for folks with mental retardation. A client who I sponsored had to wear a bag to collect his urine at night. I would come in for the afternoon shift and find his pee-bag, still full of urine, in the sink where all the clients brushed their teeth! I went around asking folks to make sure the bag got emptied, sanitized and put away, because it was disgusting, and my client kept getting urinary tract infections. Finally I went to the lady who ran the unit and asked politely if she could make sure this happened. I did this 3 consecutive days. When I walked in the next day and the bag was again in the sink, I just went and left it, full, on her desk. As you might surmise, she was none too happy with me. I got a Group 2 for insubordination, a Group 3 means you’re fired. When she called me in to yell at me, I told her, “Well, at least you won’t forget to make sure Louis’ bag is clean from now on.” She said, “I hope you don’t feel like a martyr!” I said, “No, but I bet I don’t find that bag full of piss in the sink anymore.” And I never did either!

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