Friday, March 02, 2018

The big man

He leaned down, his face too close to mine and hissed, “I don’t like people who play head games.” It seemed like a threat.

I’d never worked with this burly, awkward security guard before. He paced a lot. He would stand, slightly hunched, staring ahead, his jaw working and working at some invisible prey.

I finally summoned the courage to ask him how he was doing, regretting it before the words were fully out of my mouth. The answer was a long growling litany of not good. It seemed like this ogre perceived that everyone was against him. I started to wonder how anything I said would not be perceived as a head game by someone so apparently paranoid. The entire night was unpleasant, seeming rife with jeopardy.

The next day I received an emergency email from the dispatcher: Could I please return for another shift that night?

And possibly stave off starvation and financial ruin a tad longer? Why of course!

She then confirmed the shift, and oddly, as this was not general practice, she mentioned who I would be working with: the ogre again.

Starvation suddenly seemed preferable.

I am not remotely comfortable ratting out employees to employers. It is a serious privilege to affect someone’s capacity for income. This needed much though but I had no time. So I quickly sent this email:


I realize that likely nothing can be done immediately and I am obligated to work tonight with [Big man], but I need you to know that I am dreading this, and going forward I will probably have to refuse to work with him. I believe the fellow has significant mental problems which I am not sure how to deal with. He is full of anger which so far has been limited to verbal venting and creepy behaviour which feels threatening to me. There has been no sign of physical violence whatsoever but nevertheless I am extremely uncomfortable around him. 

I'm very sorry to throw this at you and I am regretful I didn't speak up earlier but it's tricky to know the right thing to do. I don't wish to damage this man's career but I am also concerned about my own safety and well-being.

I am copying Mr. [H. R. Guy] as I am unsure who should best receive this concern.


By the next morning I had worked another shift with the fellow and discovered the potential tyranny in first impressions. I started to perceive that the “threat” I had endured was nothing more than one man, low on companions, whispering; confiding in a potential one. At the risk of looking like a bit of an idiot, I was obliged to contact my supports at the office again:

[Big man] and I were often together last night and I must confess I had no problems with him. In fact I would say that he was very polite and helpful. Though I still feel nervous around him currently, I would consider that perhaps this is something that is my responsibility to deal with, personally, as a matter of respecting diversity.

I would like to assume that on the previous shift where I met him for the first time, that he was just having an unusually bad day and that perhaps I interpreted things in the most unfortunate way. First impressions can be tricky. I regret my previous communication. Last night’s assignment was very short-notice and I felt cornered and rushed to choose a course of action.

I'm aware that [Big man] has some struggles currently but I'm now inclined toward empathy and I hope not to see his employment opportunities diminished. From what I saw last night I believe he conducted himself admirably and kept his problems to himself. I must also confess that given his superior mobility, he was the greater resource last night; especially toward the end.



Skeeter Willis said...

Nice picture. One ogre...and one ass.

Fantasy Writer Guy said...

I think you're on to something.