Don’t sit still for roughhousing

There are two kinds of macho: verbal and physical. The oral blusterer mouths off about his prowess and superiority, obnoxious but bearable. His physical counterpart engages in bully boy behavior with his fists, a weapon, or threats of violence.
By Raymond Dreyfack December 1, 1999

There are two kinds of macho: verbal and physical. The oral blusterer mouths off about his prowess and superiority, obnoxious but bearable. His physical counterpart engages in bully boy behavior with his fists, a weapon, or threats of violence. Not only obnoxious, but unacceptable in the workplace.

Maintenance department materials handler Kerry Shea, a heavily muscled 6-ft, 2-in., 210 pounder, was a type two undesirable. A former barroom bouncer, his favorite pastime was the kind of roughhousing horseplay that invites bodily injury. The smaller and more frightened the coworker, the more prone he was to Shea’s abuses.

Harry Cohen was ideally qualified as a victim on two counts. He was half Shea’s size which won him the bully’s scornful disrespect, and he was Jewish which fueled Shea’s bigotry. Cohen lived in fear of the big man’s taunts and painful right jabs to the arm. He was afraid to complain for fear of even more dire repercussions.

One day, unnoticed himself, Maintenance Supervisor Jack Lloyd observed Shea picking on Cohen. Shadow boxing with his occasional jabs. Tightlipped, Cohen tried unsuccessfully to both avoid the shots and disguise his pain and fear. But Lloyd saw him wince each time a jab connected.

“Come on, Jew boy,” Shea taunted. “Fight like a man.”

At this point, Lloyd stepped in. “Knock it off, Shea,” he ordered firmly. The bully had been warned more than once in the past.

“No big deal. I was only kidding around. I didn’t hurt you, did I, Cohen?”

Cohen didn’t reply. Slouched away, Shea flexed his muscles, lifted a 90-lb carton, and placed it on a skid.

No stranger to Shea’s bullying behavior, Lloyd decided the time for warnings was past.

Question: In the supervisor’s place, what discipline would you impose on Shea?

Lloyd’s response: A half hour later, Lloyd appeared in his boss’ office with a pink discharge slip in hand for Plant Engineer George Riley’s approval.

Riley skimmed down the explanation portion of the notice and affixed his initials. “This is long overdue,” he told Lloyd. “There’s no place in this operation for riff raff of his type. He should go back to being a bouncer.”