The Dragonfly Lady
It was five o'clock on a Friday afternoon, almost dark, and the blowing wind outside the office windows caused the tree branches to scratch against the outer wall.
June had asked Adam to sit in as a witness during her termination meeting as she got ready to confront employee Jimmy Collins about his office behavior. Adam sensed that the stormy weather outside had nothing on the tense turbulence felt inside the office!
June was the Call Center Supervisor for the twelve person office and Adam was the Program Manager for the regional mail distribution center. The Call Center was on the third floor of a refurbished former factory building. June and Adam's offices were adjoined but Adam had little interaction with the call center staff other than to exchange pleasantries. He let June run the show and he focused on his responsibilities with contacts and interactions with outside vendors and the home office in Albany.
The Call Staff left at the close of business and Jimmy made his way into June's office as previously requested. Surely he had to be aware of the reality that he was about to be fired.
Adam stepped through the joining door of the offices and he took a seat behind June's desk as the sullen Jimmy sat across from her.
June looked like an elementary school principal about to reprimand a student as she sat behind her desk, her hair pulled up on her head in a bun as usual, professionally dressed in her standard pants suit.
June opened a folder on her desk and she glanced at Jimmy whose demeanor was one of resistance and stubborn defiance. He sat with his arms folded across his chest although he surely recognized the finality of the moment. He met June's eye for a split second before glancing at Adam to see if there was any hope of an ally. Adam in turn glanced at the sound of the branches scratching at the window to avoid having to let Jimmy know that the kid was toast.
June was reasoned, calm, and professional in her demeanor. She pulled the company's Code of Conduct sheet from the folder on her desk.
"This is your signature, am I correct?" She asked the stone-faced Jimmy.
"That's my signature," Jimmy confirmed.
"And these are your initials on these three warnings about inappropriate behavior in the workplace?" June wanted to know.
"You know they are," He grumbled.
"And you're not going to deny that you make a lewd and crude remark to Louisa yesterday afternoon in the lunch room?" June asked.
"Does it matter if I do?" Jimmy snidely asked. "You never liked me anyway. You had it out for me from the start."
"That's simply not true," June countered with authority. "I'm the one who hired you, remember?"
"Yeah, but I alienated you quick enough," Jimmy replied.
"I tried to reform your thinking," June told him. "I gave you plenty of chances to change your attitude and behavior. You were stubborn and obstinate."
"I'm good with customers on the phone," Jimmy reasoned. "That's what I was hired for."
"Yes, but if you can't work appropriately and civilly with the people around you then you can't work here no matter how good you are on the phone," June plainly told him.
"You're a pain in the ass," Jimmy complained. "You're uptight and frigid and a prude who doesn't know how to have fun. Maybe if you'd lighten up a little you wouldn't be so zero tolerance about stupid stuff."
"You've been waiting a while to say that, haven't you?" June asked.
"What do I have to lose now?" Jimmy smirked. "Actually, this is a relief. Working for you has been like working for a prison warden. You're all rules and regulations. So self-righteous and prissy."
"Is there anything else you'd like to say?" June calmly asked.
"I think I've said what needs and deserves to be said," Jimmy decided. "My advice is don't hire any more guys around here unless they're gay. That way you can protect your poor innocent vulnerable sensitive little girls from real men like me who like to have fun."
"Insulting, demeaning and sexualizing women with crude humor and boundary threatening comments is not fun," June replied.
"Well, I guess you told me!" Jimmy said sarcastically, lifting his pointer finger to his mouth and pretending to pull a trigger before jerking his head back as if he had been shot.
"Are you figuratively and symbolically killing yourself?" Adam asked.
"This place already killed me," Jimmy said. "And I don't need to hear anything from a neutered jerk like you either," he added meanly.
June pulled out Jimmy's last check from the folder and slid it across the top of the desk. "Good luck to you, Jimmy," she said neutrally.
"So, I got what was coming to me, huh?" He smirked, taking the check and putting it in his shirt pocket.
"You never got it," June sighed. "You can blame me all you want but you were the one who was unable to honor the code of conduct or follow simple workplace behavior expectation and etiquette."
"Yes, it's all my fault," Jimmy said, getting to his feet. "Whatever you say."
He stepped to the door and then paused, his back to her, his head cocked at an odd angle, apparently listening to the scratching tree branches outside.
"This place always gave me the creeps," Jimmy said before walking through the call center and out the door to the outer hallway.
"Well, I thought that went well," Adam said lightly.
"Why is it men are so brash and cocky, even when they're wrong? " June asked with resignation.
"Guys like him will never get it," Adam said. "Let it go. You had no choice but to fire the guy."
"He really was our best call representative," June sighed.
"Nobody's worth the price of office morale and ethics," Adam reasoned. "No matter how good they are at their job."
"Why did he feel justified to openly question my authority?" June complained. "Am I being held to a different standard because I'm a woman? Are men like him prejudiced against female bosses?"
"You've been doing this a long time, June," Adam reminded her. "You're good at your job. Don't start second guessing yourself now."
"I had him dead to rights," June insisted as she sat back in her chair.
"That you did," Adam agreed.
"He made me feel vulnerable," June admitted with defeat. "Made me think of George Easterly."
"George Easterly?" Adam asked, lifting his eyebrow.
"He's the reason I left Garrity and Weber," June revealed. "I'd probably be Executive Assistant to the CEO by now if I had stayed."
"I wasn't aware of your previous situation," Adam admitted.
"It was a step down coming here but I had to leave that job no matter how tempting and promising the career progression," June revealed. "It's a dead end here but at least I feel safe."
"What did that Easterly guy do?" Adam asked.
"He made unwanted sexual advances behind closed doors," June told him. "This was long before all the #MeToo stuff, of course."
Adam stood from his chair and went around to the front of June's desk, taking a seat where Jimmy had been sitting so he could see June's face front on.
"Easterly has nothing to do with you firing Jimmy," Adam assured her.
She smiled with relief. "Thanks, Adam," she said. "I appreciate you saying that."