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Sunday, March 2, 2008


Those of you oppressed by a Zero Tolerance policy in the workplace might enjoy the following letter I wrote to my supervisor, Mr. Roberts, who had recently begun his duties at our postal facility. He had overheard some comments between a co-worker and me, and, thanks to this absurd overreaction, overreacted.

July 31, 1998

Taking into consideration the fact that I was supposedly the victim in this "threat," and that my name was mentioned as such in the Letter of Warning given to Billy S___, I hereby protest. I was not the victim of a threat, and this letter was written without my knowledge, let alone my request.

Billy and I are friends, and constantly kid around with each other, as do all the city carriers in this facility. You were relatively new as our supervisor and not aware of our characters, of who we are as people, and when you overheard Billy reprimanding me for one of my errors while doing his route the day before, you were apparently shocked by the way it was worded. I was not, nor was any other carrier. My error was that I overlooked that a temporary hold was supposed to have mail delivery resumed on Billy's route, which made a customer angry, and this anger was taken out on Billy. He, in turn, notified me in an angry manner, which is understandable. Rather than saying he and I "would be going round and round" if it happened again, as stated in the Letter of Warning, Billy actually said we would "have it out." The meaning is similar, but this points out that those who overhear may make some mistakes.

Also the Letter states that "Mr. Land immediately apologized and the incident concluded." This is not true. The incident ended when Billy walked away, before I said a word, and while he was walking away, I said, "Good morning." I did not apologize at first. Knowing Billy, who probably has the biggest heart of any of our city carriers, the fact that he used the words he did actually eliminated the threat. It was how we tease each other, and I only said "Good morning" back to tease him. I did not take it as a threat. I did not feel threatened in any way. And, to be frank, I resent having someone else feel threatened for me.

After this "incident," I was mindful enough to check the holds on the route I was on at the time, and sure enough, there was a hold ready to be resumed, and if not for Billy's reprimand, I would have made the same error again on another route. I thought then that I should apologize and tell him that he saved me from making a second error, but Billy was not at his case. It turned out that he was in another room being reprimanded by you. So my apology had to wait yet longer.

Then I was summoned into the other room, to be asked if I felt in any way threatened by Billy, and without hesitation I said no. I also stuck up for Billy, explained how he kept me from repeating my error, and I expressed my dislike of the "Zero Tolerance Policy." I have an aversion to this policy because I am an American. You see, our forefathers laid their lives on the line to defend our Freedom of Speech; and now our society has become so wimpish and perverted that, just because of the fear of feeling threatened in some way, it throws out the rights that so many brave men fought and died to protect. And since Billy did not even make me feel threatened, I assumed the matter was over. Actually I felt a more serious threat during this talk you and I had--not only a philosophical/political threat, but a personal one: I told you that my usual comeback to a mock threat from a co-worker is, "You don't have the guts," and you informed me that if I had said that, I, too, would have been in trouble.

So needless to say, I was incensed when I discovered that Billy had been given a Letter of Warning, more than a month after the episode, mentioning me as the victim of a threat! If you want to describe a threat that did not occur, and embrace a policy by the letter rather than by the intent, you, as supervisor, have that prerogative; but if Billy were to file a grievance over this action, I would not hesitate to speak on behalf of my friend who's not afraid of how he speaks to me. And since I was not the victim of a threat, and the Letter of Warning mentions me as such, I request that my name be removed from this Letter (it's misspelled anyway), and if this Letter must remain in Billy's file (which it shouldn't), I ask that a copy of this follow-up letter of mine be placed alongside it.

Dale Lund

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