Sunday, August 30, 2015

Business as usual

A teacher in New Jersey  is reinstated after being tardy 110 times.  Yawn.  Tell me something new.

As library director,I once fired a young man for being insolent.  He had dropped in at various Board members' homes on Easter Sunday to discuss his grievances.  One of the Board members insisted he be fired.  In any private enterprise in New Jersey, an employee can be fired at any time, for any cause.  I know this because I looked it up.  I knew there would be repercussions, even as I drafted the letter relieving him of his responsibilities.

Our library did not have a union at that time, but we had Civil Service, which is just as good at assuring any public employee that he had a cast-iron right to his job.  And so it turned out.  The employee threatened to sue.  The municipality settled the case in his favor, giving him everything he had been asking for.  They even paid for his lawyer.

There is a procedure for firing an employee who is a civil servant.  It involved keeping a log of the person's misdeeds, oral counseling (in Civil Service lingo, that means talking to him).  After that comes written counselling, (writing the person a letter).  There was plenty more that had to be done before saying sayonara, but I will spare you the details.  Just thinking about it makes me tired.

The amount of work needed  to get rid of an employee was phenomenal and took up most of the supervisor's time for weeks.  I also learned that I needed another employee in the room when I did all this counseling, etc, or it would be a case of he said/she said.

Nevertheless I did get rid of two good-for-nothing lazy employees.  I did this by writing them endless letters and having sessions of criticism with both of them (separately) in my office, with a witness.  I kept track of them like God does when he keeps an eye on a sparrow, only God does not have to issue written reports and memos and have limitless discussions.  Nor does God have to have a witness present.

Meanwhile, the supervisor (me) and the witness (someone else) cannot perform any other of our duties because of the time suck involved in showing an employee the door.

How I envy Donald Trump!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

20th century memories: playing bridge

Mr Charm and I were pals with another couple; we used to visit each others' houses for dinner and bridge.  After a few inter-couple flare-ups, we settled on a method of keeping the peace while playing: the boys played against the girls.

Mr Charm was an outrageous bridge player; he bid high, wide and handsome, just because he felt like it.  The cards he had been dealt had little to do with it.  His partner was cautious; eons passed, or seemed to pass, before he placed a bid or made a move.  But the worst part of this whole thing was that the men seemed to have all the luck, and wiped the floor with us women almost every time.

Despite flouting all the rules accepted  by right-thinking bridge experts and bidding because he just had a feeling he could make six spades, he won most of the time.  His playing was erratic; they should not have won, but they did.  Then the men, not being good sports, would gloat and taunt us women.

Fortunately for the two marriages, we were drinking hard liquor--it was the 20th century, remember? and we were all pretty well oiled at the time., so no grudges were held and we remained friends.

The curse of great possessions

Great possessions were never a worry to me, because I never had any.  I drove an old beater, and you could give it a going over with a baseball bat and I wouldn't mind, or even notice maybe.  Now I have a new car and live in fear that someone will put a dent in my little darling.  It's a year old now, and I am starting to calm down.

So now I have this dishwasher.  It's a Bosch, and so complicated that the repairman had to come twice to counsel me on how to use it.  It's undoubtedly the best dishwasher I've ever had in my life, but hard to work with.  For instance, if you press really hard on the "Start" button, it will shut itself off.  It has other tricks, but I won't go into them, except to speculate that the Germans might still harbor a grudge for us because we won World War II.

But it has a dent in the front panel which displeases me mightily because I bought it at retail, not as a "scratch or dent" model or without a box or the last one in the store.  So I called the store, and talked to someone who understood I had a problem but wasn't the person to deal with it.  The person to talk to was the salesman, Al, but he was on vacation.

I called back a few days later and spoke to Al, who said he had to order the part, but the person who took care of such orders was on vacation.  I called back, and the manager, all fresh and rested from his vacation. said he would order the part and would call me when it came in.  Great!  We are making progress here!

Later still, I called again, and was told the part was in but the guy who did the installation was on vacation.

I was getting steamed.  Not only did the new dishwasher require constant consultation with the very cryptic and arcane manual, but I had to look at the dented panel every time I went in the kitchen.  How to get their attention?  So I called Visa and told them not to pay for the dishwasher.  They sent me a form, which I filled out, and then there was a hiatus during which the entire staff of Visa was busy with other things or maybe taking a vacation or possibly had been rubbed out by someone pumping  Sarin gas into the HVAC of their establishment.

If they had been disabled by Sarin gas, apparently they were over the effects, as they called me back and said they were looking into the matter.  The young man on the phone told me he had tried to call the appliance store but the person who handled such matters was, you guessed it, on vacation.

Today I received my Visa bill, and they had credited me with the cost of the dishwasher.  So now I have a free dishwasher with a dent in it that washes the dishes just great if you handle it with the proper respect.