My God...this should be my letterhead as of late. Life has been tres tres weird at Rancho Sudiegirl. As you probably read, my friend DD broke down at work on Tuesday after a hell weekend regarding cranking out a new database system, and he's been placed on medical leave until he's ready to come back. It's been quite ugly as he's been pointing fingers at management and he's got documentation of this stuff, so it's a "Silkwoodish" kind of thing, really.
I helped him with his resignation letter (that was his original plan), and did lots and lots o' listening. To be honest, it's been weird because I'm the AA to the CIO (how many more acronyms can I use here?) of our division. I was growing increasingly more worried about DD by the day, and by Tuesday morning, I had to tell someone what I was noticing about his behavior. I felt like a damned snitch, to be honest.
I mean, here he is...my friend DD pouring his heart out to me about how this project is going, and I can hear the anger and stress levels in his voice increasing with every day. By Monday, I had gotten three phone calls from him (VERY RARE) and he was just frazzled beyond belief...far beyond the Garfield "I Hate Mondays" syndrome or anything the "Dilbert" comic strip artists can think of.
I didn't want to say anything because I feared the "jig" would be up as far as our personal lives were concerned, and I was scared it would cost both of us our jobs.
But when I got to work on Tuesday morning, my hands were shaking and I just couldn't hold it back any longer. I talked to one of my government co-workers about this, and asked what she thought I should do. I had told her of an incident the week before involving this same guy and expressed concern in that previous conversation. She told me at that time to watch and wait.
This time, her answer was more along the lines of, "You're right...I think we need to tell someone." So I went to my boss, and I was scared to death. I think the boss knew I was serious because the occasions I go to him for something other than "Can we talk about your schedule?" are as rare as hen's teeth.
My shaking hands and I went to see the boss, and while I didn't go into details about what DD had told me (I figure why screw myself if I'm not even going to enjoy it?), I think what I did say was taken quite seriously. I basically said that DD had called me every night over the weekend to talk about his frustrations and that he was getting more and more agitated. I opened up a little and said that DD had been going through job stress for quite some time, but I had never seen him like this.
DD cracked on Tuesday morning. He was speaking to his contracting manager while in a very agitated state. It didn't help that the contract manager told him I had talked to the CIO to express concern over him. DD had it in his head that I told the boss I was "scared of him", but I corrected him firmly, saying I was scared FOR him.
I was...in a way I had never experienced until that point.
Let's face facts, here. As well acquainted as I am with DD, when a person goes over the edge, nobody has a clue as to what will happen next with that person. DD could have done something to hurt someone (himself or someone else), and I know he couldn't live with the guilt of that if he survived it. He did understand what I meant once I put it to him that way so Big Ernie was working in mysterious ways.
Anyone who picks up a newspaper or watches TV these days knows the extent of personal demons turning on the public. We've got Columbine, Virginia Tech, the recent Cleveland student shootings at an alternative high school...and other incidents to thank for that. Hell, some stupid woman who had no business with a pet rock, let alone a child, bought guns and pot for HER OWN 14-YEAR OLD KID for reasons unknown and idiotic. She must be running a ranch for crazed gunslingers in her neighborhood or something...and I'm getting off topic.
What I'm trying to say is this...when I saw DD coming unraveled, I didn't know what to do.
Once I did what I did (talking to my boss and expressing concern for DD's well being regarding the incidents of the past weekend), I still felt guilty even though those close to me told me not to. I was doing EVERYONE a favor with this, they said.
But what if I cost him a job? I asked.
But what if he takes his own life or anyone else's in his anger? they replied.
I said nothing...but I cried. I had nightmares most every night this week. I looked horrible at work, I'm sure...half-dazed with lack of sleep, going through the motions of answering phones and scheduling meetings.
And then the news about the shootings at the alternative high school in Cleveland, Ohio came out.
That news smacked me in the face. Especially when the USA Today article noted this fact:
A week before Asa Coon wounded four people and fatally shot himself at SuccessTech Academy in downtown Cleveland on Wednesday, he had threatened to blow up the school and stab students, said Doneisha LeVert, 14.
Another article touched on this as well:
Too busy...too busy.
He had been suspended for a Monday fight, but students said officials had done nothing about threats he had made last week to blow up the school and stab students.
"I told my friends in the class that he had a gun and stuff," Rasheem Smith, 15, said yesterday on CBS's "Early Show." "We talked to the principal. She would try to get us all in the office, but it would always be too busy for it to happen."
Yeah, my department was busy. This program DD was working on was scheduled to roll out this coming Monday. Now, needless to say, it's not. God knows when it's going to be done. We've got many things that we're busy with...budgets, network stuff, fortifying staff to support computer users throughout our offices. We are as busy as busy can be.
Once I heard about this shooting, and the efforts the kids at SuccessTech made to do the right thing, so many thoughts shot through my head like bottle rockets.
- I was grateful I had a co-worker who listened to me calmly and helped me think through my options.
- I was grateful that my boss took me seriously and didn't blow me off.
- I was scared as hell for DD, and hoping that his actions wouldn't hurt his cause.
- I was frustrated that he was being pushed so hard to meet a deadline that he didn't even create.
- I was worried that my actions would hurt DD, even though I was assured they wouldn't.
- I was worried that my actions would hurt my job, even though I was assured they wouldn't.
- I was angry for those kids at SuccessTech, who tried to do the right thing and were blown off because of busy schedules.
I want to hear from you, blogland...have you ever had a situation like this, where you've had to speak up for a co-worker/friend when things are bad like this?
How did you feel?
I wanna know, folks...I really do.
I think this entry makes up for the three or four days I've missed, right?