Sunday, September 18, 2011
At another company, one of the employees, Jim, was called "Lumpy" because he had a great number cysts which were visible on his face and arms. Of course, I never called him Lumpy and he seldom said a word to me and always averted his eyes when I needed to have a conversation with him. One day the Committeman came to me and said, "Lumpy wanted to." I did not let him continue the sentence and said, "You, of all people should not be calling Jim that awful name!" He said, "Aw, he doesn't mind!" I responded, "That's the craziest damned thing I ever heard; how would you like it if I picked out some peculiarity of yours and made fun of it?" I continued, "In fact, you as the Union representative have a legal responsibility to keep that from happening!" He said, "Yes, Mother!" I said, "John, it isn't funny; Jim could sue the Company and the Union for allowing a hostile work environment." I said, "What did Jim want you to ask me?" He answered, "He said he needs some personal time off and he hasn't been here long enough to have any personal time." I asked, "Well, why didn't he just ask me?'' John responded, "He's scared of you!" I said, "Scared? I've always been nice to him!" I handed a request form to John to have Jim complete and return to me. When John returned it to me it was in a sealed envelope and John said, "JIM didn't want to share with me." I said, "That's probably because it's PERSONAL!"
We shut down for 10 days for Christmas and Jim needed time off before Christmas to have an operation on his cysts and have recovery time during the shutdown. Jim had had the cysts since he was a youngster and had never had insurance before to cover the operation. When Jim returned from Christmas shutdown, he came to my office and said, "Hi, Sue." and he looked directly at me. He said, "John told me what you said and I always appreciated that you never called me Lumpy even though other managers did!"
There were just tiny scars where the cysts had been. It was heartrending to see the difference in his demeanor. From then on, every time I was on the manufacturing floor, Jim would speak and actually have a conversation. It was thrilling to see the once painfully-shy person so buoyant with self-confidence. Within a few months, Jim had a girlfriend and in less than a year I attended Jim's wedding! Jim and his wife send Christmas cards and they are blessed with two children.