Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dying on the Job

Drudge linked to this odd story.

Early in my career at Smathers & Thompson, I was working late on a Friday. All the lawyers but I had gone home. One of the staff who had been working late came in and told me, "Mr. Stokes, Millie is in Betty's office, and I think she's dead." We went to Betty's office (Betty was the office manager), and there was Millie, sitting in a chair in front of Betty's desk, with her head slung back and her eyes closed.

I thought to myself, "Do I want to undertake the mouth-to-mouth procedure? . . . She does look quite dead. Maybe I won't."

We called 911, and the EMT people arrived in a few minutes with the police, confirmed Millie's death, and took her away. I felt bad about not doing anything to try to revive Millie. I asked one of the EMT's about it, and he reassured me that she had been dead for at least an hour or two.

When I spoke to Betty about the matter, she told me that she had fired Millie at the end of the work day that Friday. Betty had terminated (no pun intended) Millie in Betty's own office, and then Betty left Millie there and went home. Millie had been let go for her alcoholism, and she had continuously been discovered drinking on the job. Finally, after several warnings, she was let go.

(Betty had a crusty exterior but a very soft heart. She seemed hardly ever to fire anyone. She was adept at moving incompetent secretaries down the leader to the new associates. I had several of them during my first couple of years at the firm. Not too long after that incident, the firm fired a partner for drinking on the job, again after a number of warnings. He survived.)

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