Monday, February 05, 2007

How to Run a Great Business - NOT!

Ok, let's try this deal again now. I had written this post earlier this evening, published it and before I managed to pull it back to edit it - due to mega errors that were not (knowingly anyway) done by me - someone had actually read it and commented on it. I tried twice to correct the problem - had to re-write about 1/4 of the post to do that and still everytime I tried to republish it, I was missing a good deal of the first part of the post. But, when I tried to eliminate the post, it left the comment and tags there so I'm trying to put this up there one more time. However, this time, I am not going to include the link I had in the other one - my apologies to Jamison Wolf and his blog but apparently my computer or blogger or something didnt like my trying to put a link in to his blog as that was where it appeared things were breaking down. Oh heck, I dunno what the devil was happening but it just wasn't posting correctly at any rate.

Because of something I read on Jamison's blog today, it sparked a reminder in me about the wonderful treatment I received at a former place of employment. This then is my story.

On Sunday, July 4, 1999, I was at my job as Asst. Restaurant Manager for a truckstop about 30 miles from here that is part of a nationwide restaurant (truckstop) chain. I was working on our weekly food inventory and had to go back to the freezer to check on some figures and that is where my problems began.

As I stepped from the walk-in cooler into the freezer area, my right foot slid in a little bit of water on the floor - water on a piece of sheet metal on the floor that is - which was slicker than an ice skating rink. And, in doing that, my foot went out from under me and I fell, landing with a very hard blow to my right arm which resulted in a broken wrist.

Somehow I managed to pull myself upright and made my way back out to my office where I tried then to contact either of the two other managers at that restaurant. Neither was available to come in and relieve me. The assistant fuel manager though did come over and tell me he was going to drive me to the Emergency room for treatment but I declined his offer. There was no way on earth I was going to ride anyplace with my arm throbbing the way it was and not have it stabilized before the trip by someone with some type of knowledge of first aid - which he didn't have! I called an ambulance instead.

At the hospital, an orthopedic surgeon was called in to tend to my wrist. After checking it, having it x-rayed, he set the arm and released me with instructions that I could return to work in two days - but "light duty only" and then, he informed me that I was restricted from driving for the next six weeks.

Now there were two really contradictory doctors orders if ever there were any! First off, anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant knows there is no such thing as "light duty" - for openers. And, considering the fact I lived 30 miles - one way - from my place of employment, in an area with NO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION available, how in blazes I was going to get back and forth to my "light duty only" work was a big question there too.

The first two weeks of having this lovely big green cast on my arm, the guy who was the manager then, would make arrangements with my younger daughter that either he would come pick me up and/or take me home after shift or she would do the honors. However, he had just submitted his resignation and as I began my third week at work after my mishap, we got a new restaurant manager.

Now, the new guy and the General Manager had a meeting on his first day at the place and I must have been top priority on their agenda because immediately after their conference, I got a phone call telling me that it would be totally my own responsiblilty to get back and forth to work - they would not be running any kind of "taxi" service for me and furthermore, if I called off from work due to no transportation, the first time, I would get a written warning, the second time, I would get a week's suspension without pay and the third time - yes, it's the charmer alright - I would be fired! Wonderful!

Now, how the heck was I going to get back and forth to work?

I put in a phone call immediately to the Workman's Compensation office in Harrisburg where some highly intelligent (I'm sure) gentleman (I'm not so sure about that) informed me that because driving was not a prerequisite of my position, the management could, in fact, put me in a position like the one described above.

I wasn't very happy with his answer so I contacted an attorney in Washington, D.C. whose number I'd been given - just in case - by a lady from this area who had him handle a Workman's Compensation case for her. After explaining to this lawyer's secretary what my problem was, she said she would give him the information. A short time later, this man called and told me to contact his brother's law firm in Washington, PA. The man I spoke to was none other than Chip Yablonski, son of Jock Yablonski, the United Mine Worker leader who, along with his wife and daughter, had been murdered several years before in a case that ended up with Tony O'Boyle, the President of the UMW also being brought to trial for being involved with Mr. Yablonski's and his family's murders.

The other Yablonski brother informed me then to contact a representative of the Insurance company handling my case. Which I did. The lady I spoke to there said she needed to speak to the General Manager about this deal and told me that yes, because I was injured at work and the doctor had restricted me from driving for that period of time due to the injury, they were indeed liable to provide some type of assistance to me.

Needless to say, this didn't set very well in the General Manager's craw - for sure. But he and the restaurant manager decided, in their infinite wisdom, that they would pay $5 per trip to anyone who ferried my fanny to or from work until I was allowed to drive again. However, it was still up to me to find someone who would do that.

Over the following four weeks, I managed through the help of both my daughters, one or two of the employees at the truckstop and a lady from the church I belong to, that I got to work for each shift when I was scheduled to be there. My younger daughter, who was working as a waitress at the time at a restaurant in State College explained to her manager what was going on and even he tried to help us as much as he could by trying to schedule my daughter for as many shifts as possible that coincided with my hours. Now, that is a move that I would call going over and above the call of duty - don't you agree there?

After I was released from the no driving restriction, I still had to go for intensive physical therapy to return my hand from the clawlike shape it was in from being in the cast for six weeks, plus to return the hand and wrist to a functional state as close as possible to what it had been prior to the break. That took yet another four months of three appointments a week to work on the hand, arm and even the shoulder which had been inadvertatently affected by the weight of the cast for that period of time too.

And, finally, after I was released from the therapy - when they decided they couldn't get any more response from my hand, wrist, arm, etc., than they had done, an auditor for the company happened to show up one day and while going over the General Manager's books, asked about the $5 payments made to my transporters during my restricted driving period and when he found out what that was for, he informed the General manager that I should not have received $5 per trip but rather I should have been getting the mileage rate everyone else received for transportation expenses which at that time was around 30 cents per mile. And not only that, I should have received that reimbursement too when I was able to drive and was driving myself to all the physical therapy sessions or to the doctor for checkups on the wrist. Gee, do ya think so, huh? Of course, since that was all in the past and we all know too the past is prologue - a moot point there, isn't it?

But, I ask you now - is that any way to run a business and treat employees who have been injured due to the company's failure to provide a safe work place from the outset?

I think not.

5 comments:

Smalltown RN said...

I've tried t email you to get the scoop on that phone call but I must have your email address wrong as it keeps coming back to me...can you send it to me again. Cheers!~

Mike said...

Many small companies are like this. Even some bigger ones too. They just don't care about the people who work for them.

Gene Bach said...

Is it really any wonder why we have unions in this country? Whatever they have become, they were originally started becuse of things just like this going on, and worse.

East of Oregon said...

things that make you go yikes !! take care.

Business process management said...

Many big Companies just don't care about the people who work for them. Even small companies are like this bigger ones.