Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Days Of Wine & No Roses

I recently saw a former employee of mine from back in the temp labor company days. He was notable for his alcoholism. We had tried to terminate his employment due to his getting drunk on the job site. He called and complained to the corporate office. We were told that we had to reinstate him because we could not make a legal determination of whether or not an employee was drunk. (Technically, if you want to write a person up for being drunk, you should write that the person appeared to be under the influence or impaired.)

So we reinstated him. He came to the office for dispatch not seeming to be under the influence. We sent him out on a job about 30 miles away with a crew of, maybe, a dozen workers to move office furniture. About an hour after he left our office, we got a call that he was drunk. My coworker had to go pick him up. She took him to a lab to do a blood alcohol test. He was 2 times over the legal limit. He still denied that he had been drinking, but we were allowed to terminate him for 3 years, I think. That's as long as our nationwide bans lasted.

The temp labor company was the sort of place that people who were looking for work would show up at the office each day at 5:30am and wait for assignments. We had a lot of transients work for us. My first summer with the company I was the only staff member. I spread the word that my workers would no longer be allowed to sit outside the branch office all day drinking alcohol. One of them complained that I didn't officially post this policy for everyone to read.

During my solo days I was able to do a termination on a temp who had been suspended for being drunk and belligerent over a dozen times. He made the mistake of going to a job site smoking crack and taking a piss in the corner of the room he was working in. After I terminated him, his family came and picked him up and tried to help him. He was a sad case. Years before he had killed his brother by driving a car drunk.

It was our company's unwritten policy that we would never send someone out to the job site who was drunk or on drugs. If they ended up drunk, then it must have happened on the way to the job site. That being said, we wouldn't look the other way if someone was noticeably impaired. But seasoned drunks and druggies could often hide their impairment. And the counter we were behind was tall and deep, so we could potentially be a few yards from our temp workers.

Most of our temp workers were good workers. It showed a lot of dedication to be able to show up for possible dispatch each day at 5:30am not knowing if they would actually get to work that day. But most of those workers also had found that they couldn't wait longer than a day to get paid for the work they did, so they couldn't survive a so-called "real" job where they'd get paid every 2 weeks, or so.

I would often think that my mom would never have imagined that I would be working in that sort of environment, let alone know the sorts of people I knew.


  1. Your career is endlessly fascinating to me!

  2. Since he was hired for a temporary job, why would the corporate office insist you reinstate him? I would have just never found any work for him when he showed up--no termination necessary---just a lack of work. It sounds like the corporate office should have stayed out of it.