Put your feet up. I’m going to tell you a sad story.
A few months back, at my job, we took back an old member who happens to be the son of a current member. The current member is a nice guy, a little off-beat but a nice guy. However, I hate nepotism. In fact it’s the worst part of job…hands down. Taking in or taking back people who, if they went to college, would be considered ‘legacies’. I hate it! I REALLY freakin’ HATE it!
So we took this guy back after many many years of being out of the Union. My boss, who I love to death and would do just about anything for because I know his heart is in the right place, had me put this guy into the computer as a ‘journeyman’ floorlayer even though when he suspended out of the Union he was an ‘apprentice’ carpenter. I did as asked.
He filled out all of the paperwork and I got a really ookie feeling off him and his girlfriend who came in with him. She just looked so….sad…beaten down…demoralized. BUT, that wasn’t MY concern at the time. My job was to put him back into the computer, take his picture, let him know I was giving him a ‘temporary’ card and that his ‘permanent’ card would arrive in the mail in “about two weeks” (That’s what I tell all of them….”about two weeks”). I took his payment, noticed immediately it was not drawn on his account! Rather it was drawn on the girlfriend’s account. I did my job. I got him set. That was it.
A week or so later his QR Code arrived in the mail from the ‘higher ups’ and I made him a ‘permanent’ card. I sent it to him.
It came back. It was marked; Don’t ever send anything here for him again!
I called him and said something along the lines of; “Hey, the address you gave me isn’t any good and I NEED a permanent address for you so…what is it?”
He stuttered. He stumbled. He couldn’t give me his permanent address and instead said something along the lines of; “I’ll get it straightened out, just hold the card for me and I’ll come to the Hall and pick it up.”
Ok. Fine. Whatever.
However, after the phone call I went to my boss and said something like; “Dude, this guy doesn’t know where he LIVES! When I talked to him I think he was stoned out of his mind.” No offense. I smoke pot. I got nothing against being stoned. More directly I probably should have said something like; “He doesn’t have an address.”
My boss looked at me and said something to the effect of; “Maybe he’s transient, we have a lot of those, just hold the card.”
So I did. I also went to my computer and ‘flagged’ his address as being ‘bad’. You’d think that would stop the database from generating letters and mailing labels for him but it doesn’t. I don’t even know why that option EXISTS if it does jackshit. But I did my job.
It sat on my desk for WEEKS and the guy never came in to pick it up.
Skip ahead a few weeks….I ended up in a clinic because I couldn’t breath! I was diagnosed with COPD. At the exact same moment in time hubby’s car died. We called Miss Rebecca and her then-boyfriend Hector (a Union member) to come pick us up. Which they did without a word of negativity.
They came. They sat with me. We made chit-chat. I found out that the member in question had been arrested because he got into a ‘knife fight’ with his girlfriend. Hector said something along the lines of; “Ma, he’s never coming back to the Union. He’s in JAIL and he’s not getting out.”
Ok. Fine. I was more concerned with my own health, I admit it. I got my prescriptions. They took us home. All was well.
I got back to work, I saw the envelope sitting on my desk. I went to my boss and relayed the information to him. Basically he said; “Just hold on to it.”
So I did.
For several weeks.
Finally I threw it out.
Then, I forgot all about it until TODAY.
This morning I was outside smoking a cig…yeah, bad girl, I know. I saw a truck pull up with a person I didn’t recognize inside. I finished my cig even though they came into the Hall and heated up my cup of coffee figuring it was a Member that I just didn’t recognize. I went back to my desk with a smile and a; “Hi, how ya doin’? How can I help you?”
The man proceeded to throw an envelope at me and tell me to NEVER EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER SEND ANY MAIL TO HIS ADDRESS AGAIN FOR TH IS FUCKING ASSHOLE!
For the next five minutes he proceeded to tell me how he always hated this guy, he never let this guy into his home, he WARNED HER about him! Then he told me of how this Member KILLED HIS DAUGHTER! He went into great detail about it. The knife fight. Her trying to defend herself. How the Member sliced her and then…Gods help me…STOMPED on HER! He…for lack of a better word…smashed…her liver…that along with the cuts lead to her death.
I was floored.
I couldn’t speak.
He told me he’d called Yalesville and they told him they couldn’t do anything about it. He’d have to keep getting mail for this guy because that was the address on file for him.
OH MY FUCKING GOD! SERIOUSLY?
To my great shame, I really did just sit there listening to him. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to comfort him but, most of all and again to my great shame, I knew full-well it wasn’t within my purview to change the guy’s address unless HE told me to do so!
I just said; “I’ll do my best. I’m so sorry.”
Then he left.
I went to the computer, not knowing what else to do or how to stop the letters from coming to HIS HOUSE even though the address was ‘flagged’ as ‘bad’. I simply changed that Member’s address to the New London Hall’s address. How in God’s name, could I ever, in good conscience sent another letter to HIM and his WIFE who are grieving so heartily?
I went into my boss’ office and told him what happened and what I’d done even though it’s against all the ‘rules’.
What choice did I have? Seriously. What else could I do?
As I told him the story all I could see was HER. A woman I met for five whole minutes. I don’t even know her name but I can still see her standing there looking scared and hopeful at the same time. She wanted a better life for herself and for him, the Member. She did. Not only did she fork over a big sum of money to make that happen, like I said she looked both hopeful and scared. I should have known something was seriously wrong but…it’s NOT my job.
For that, the shame is on me.
This is like something out one of my stories!
I’ve felt so guilty all day and I will for days to come. I feel so bad for that father who stood at my window telling me his story and for not comforting him but I was so stunned all I could do was sit there with my mouth hanging open mumbling incoherent crap that meant nothing to him. I don’t blame him even as I watched him walk away with his head hung low.
Yeah, it was a shitty day today.
Totally fucking shitty!
I feel as though I’ve failed a Human Being. I failed to comfort him. I failed to recognize his pain.
But now that I’m home and away from it…I feel it. Every inch of it. I feel it.
I wish I could go back in time just a few hours and be a better Human Being to him.
But I can’t.
All I could do was change the address so he never has to get another letter for that motherfucking asshole ever again.
If he were standing in front of me right now I’d tell him how sorry I was for him, how much I understand that must hurt him and his wife to lose their ONLY DAUGHTER in such a fucktastic way!
But I’m just the ‘little secretary’ and no one ever gave me lessons on how to deal with this at my job.
I’m so sorry! So sorry!
I’ll have nightmares for weeks to come knowing that, in hindsight (which is always 20/20!) there must have been something that I could do…as a mere Human Being…there must have been something I could do!
The damaged is irreparable.