I take holidays, you take holidays, but who takes the most time off these days? Common Sense. Over Reaction, though, is on the job, literally.
Grand Rapids, Michigan High School Principal Katie Pennington threatened to prevent more than 60 seniors from graduating last week. Their 'crime?' They rode the last three-miles to school on an organized bike ride.
A TV video shows the Principal telling the offenders to "get your butts home," and she denied them entry to the campus on their last official day of school, causing many to miss their final exams. She also informed them they will not be allowed to participate in the school's senior walk, an annual ritual where students go through the halls to say goodbye to their teachers and younger classmates.
Pennington took issue with the bike ride because it backed up traffic and prevented staff from getting to school on time, and was concerned that the ride put students in danger. I rode my horse nine miles to school (others did, too) on the last day of eight grade and was congratulated.
"We did not consider this a prank at all, but an opportunity to celebrate our last day at school. We were singing the school fight song (while biking)," said one student.
Did I mention that there was a police escort, and that the mayor was riding in the police car? Or, that the mayor brought them doughnuts?!
The Superintendent ultimately reversed the decision, and apologized to the students who missed their final exams, explaining that he would have been in support of the bike ride if he'd known of it ahead of time.
Painting the exterior of a house in Des Moines last week, I heard of another outrage. Two Portland, Oregon men have been awarded $332,000 by a Portland jury. They had been fired after they complained to Oregon regulators about the lack of an on-the-job toilet. Menzies Aviation managers claimed that the men had permission to use the toilets at Horizon Airlines, a neighboring business, but the men said they did once or twice and stopped after it was clear that they weren't welcome there.
OSHA cited the company for failing to provide restroom facilities. The men were fired later that month.
The jury found that the company, which has more than 17,000 employees worldwide and is headquartered in the United Kingdom, retaliated against the men for cooperating with the OSHA inspector. Juror Lila Zamani said the company's treatment of the men was "definitely despicable." She said she and other jurors believed that having easy access to a toilet was a basic human right.
"We talked about the concept of dignity -- being able to go to the bathroom within 30 seconds or a minute," Zamani said. My Gawd! Thirty seconds, or a minute?! Lets see, how many toilets would be necessary in a 10,000 acre forest? A 640 acre farm? The next thing might be something like requiring every USA citizen to have health insurance or risk a fine.
One of the men said working without ready access to a restroom was humiliating, but it was also embarrassing to take the stand and speak about accidents while on the job. "Hopefully no one will have to suffer again what I've been through," he said. That is bad -- right up there with having no job at all?
You can sympathize with the workers (if you are a bleeding heart), disagree with the company, as the jury did (if you think they simply should have ordered a PortaPot), or you can shake your head and wonder where common sense has gone.
Ironically, the very day I heard the Portland story I peed in the customer's garage. In a can I carry with me for such purposes! No reason to track into the house, and a grown man should be able to get a handle on such a small issue.
Times change. Now just about every site larger than a lemonade stand must furnish a PortaPot, but not in 1961. I was building a house on the edge of Akron and one of my laborers kept walking a few hundred feet to the adjoining corn field to wee-wee. I told him that most of us just went in a corner of the still dirt basement to do that thing. "Oh, OK," the Westmar math student said.
A few days later I reached above a ledge in the basement to retrieve a paper sack in which I had put some hardware, and to my surprise, the 'hardware' turned out to be odoriferous, soft brown stuff -- I had failed to tell K.P. that we do that job at home!
Don Paulin, firstname.lastname@example.org, 7557 30th Av, Norwalk, IA 50211 - 515-201-7236