Monday, May 04, 2009

A Tale of Todd

I work in retail. I'm a manger. Today, like most Mondays, we had our weekly Managers Meeting. We get together and talk about what's happening for the coming week, what happened last week, I'm sure most of you can figure out the particulars. In today's meeting I made a request of my fellow managers. I asked them to stop the joke playing and teasing of a particular associate. I asked them to please make the request of the associates that work in their department also.

The associate I was talking about, let's call him Todd (of course that's not his real name and the chance that he'll read this is pretty close to nil, but I still feel better not using his real name) is, I guess the current PC would be, mentally handicapped. I personally don't feel that saying someone is retarded is wrong, it's their condition, but the use of that word has been so distorted and overused that it's come to be stigmatized nowdays. I'm not sure of the level of Todd's illness, most people always say that such a person has the intelligence level of an eight year old, a twelve year old, etc. But that's probably too much of a generalization. Ask Todd a question about the Saints and he can tell you more than I know, ask him to do simple math and there's a problem. Of course with such situations like this there are usually emotional problems too. Todd is a good worker, but when another manager will ask him to do something different he usually doesn't want to do it. I'm one of the few there that he listens to without too much trouble. Once he picked up some keys that the Front End uses and even though other associates saw him do this he refused to admit what he had done. I was off that day and only learned this when I came in the following day. Eventually the other managers had to call his Dad in to get the keys from him.

Generally Todd is a good worker. He cleans the store for us. He empties the wastebaskets. He sweeps. He mops. He stays busy. And he is a friendly guy. He's not a kid, I guess he's in his late twenties/early thirties. I guess I should know, since I hired him, but I honestly don't remember.

You can probably figure out where I'm going with this, of course there are people at the store that like to tease Todd or make fun of him. The other day a few people where telling him that some of the managers at the store were being transferred and he would be working for someone else. He was becoming upset. The other night someone spilled something on the floor and when he went to clean it up some of the other associates were teasing him.

And the worse part, it's some of the managers that work at the store that are probably the worst offenders when it comes to this type of behavior. I brought it up in the meeting. I asked if we could refrain from teasing Todd, if we could stop trying to make him look like a fool. I got a little worked up. Basically I told them that I didn't think too much of someone trying to play games with Todd. If they wanted to trade insults do it with someone that was equipped to sling them back and they could take me on anytime they wanted. I can hold my own. See, that's the thing, I don't mind insult humor, when it's against someone with the same advantages. I can give my share, but I can take it also. And that's cool.

I've never seen the humor in these type of situations. To me it's just plain cruel. I've tried to let others know when they do these type of things with a “I don't think that's funny” but sometimes I think they're not the real bright ones, they don't seem to catch on.


Bond said...

These people must have low self esteem if pranking on a mentally handicapped person is their thing.

What does the manager of the store think about this? Is he/she even aware it is happening?

I applaud you for bringing this up to them. You did not tell us what the reaction was to your comments.

You are a good man John.

Jessica said...

I agree with Bond they must have really low self esteem. This is a tough situation, is there no one on board with you?

JohnH985 said...

The manager of the store told everyone that it needs to stop now, so hopefully we'll see.

Travis said...

That's truly unfortunate and also illegal. I'm glad to hear that your manager stepped in.

We had a kid in my high school with Down's Syndrome. He took a couple of classes with us in the morning and then went to a special school in the afternoon.

I remember he was one of the most popular kids in school. He was always smiling and ready with a hug. He was just a fun kid to be around.

It's not so difficult to be kind to people who are mentally challenged. "Treating them the same as the rest of us" should not mean subjecting them to "good natured" teasing that they simply aren't equipped to understand or fend off.

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