What to do with a well-meaning joker?

No one is perfect, right? Instrument Repairman Bud Fallon seemed intent on proving this premise. Bud's a nice guy, friendly, cheerful, well liked. But on the minus side he can be, to put it kindly, a pest.

07/01/1998


No one is perfect, right? Instrument Repairman Bud Fallon seemed intent on proving this premise. Bud's a nice guy, friendly, cheerful, well liked. But on the minus side he can be, to put it kindly, a pest. An incurable practical joker, addicted to clowning and horse play.

The problem with people like Bud is that not everyone appreciates their humor. Electrician Grade II, 250-lb Mike Fagan, was as serious minded as Bud was fun loving. Clearly, Bud showed poor judgment in selecting Mike as the butt of his joke. Mike was in a foul mood that day, working on a rewiring job in a hard to access location.

Bud, working nearby, had been needling Mike all morning, the other man growing increasingly irritated. When Bud rubbed sticky grease on the handle of Mike's screwdriver, it was one straw too many. The electrician pounced on his tormentor, wrestled him to the floor, and sat on his face.

Bud struggled for breath, but Mike refused to free him until two men pulled him off. By this time Bud's face was dayglow red. Swearing that he might have been suffocated, he went berserk and attacked Mike with a 4-lb hammer. That's when Maintenance Supervisor Ed Byrne appeared on the scene.

Fighting on the job was bad enough, Byrne thought. Attacking someone with a dangerous weapon, whatever the reason, was grounds for dismissal.

"That's it, Fallon, you've had it."

Stunned, Fallon started to protest.

Question : What do you think? Does Bud deserve to be terminated?

Garfield's decision: When Byrne brought the dismissal notice to his boss for approval, Plant Engineer Mel Garfield tried to reconstruct the incident. His first question was, "What provoked the attack?"

"From what I've pieced together," Byrne replied, "Bud had been needling Mike. When he greased his screwdriver, Mike blew up. He knocked Bud to the ground and, literally, sat on his head."

Garfield frowned. "That's a helluva lot of man to have on your head."

"If you ask me, Bud brought it on himself. Besides, going after a man with a hammer -- how can you condone that?"

"You can't. But we have to consider that Bud Fallon is a long-time employee with an excellent record and no previous violence. His action, while childish, was in no way malicious. I think dismissal's a bit harsh. I'd suggest a week's suspension and warning notice that further shenanigans of this kind won't be tolerated."





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