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    This is a long series, and each story is better than the last, but you have to fiddle around with blog sidebar whenever you want to find the next installment. (That’s one thing I won’t miss from the Blogger Era…). Here’s one from Part 3 (of 23):

    “Hey, Nancy,” he began, “I cannot make it into work today.”

    “OK,” I said, “I will let Linc know” (Linc Holland, the man who has never won an argument with me).

    “Are you OK?” I asked.

    “Well, yes, but I have a little problem….”

    “What’s up?” I naively asked.

    “ I am in jail.” Johnny replied.

    “Oh no!” I exclaimed.

    “What happened?” I was now thinking we had a problem with a DUI or scofflaw issue and knowing Johnny as I did, I could picture him sitting in some police holding cell refusing to post bond on principle.

    “Well, I was at my mom’s house on Thanksgiving and I got into an argument with my brother-in-law and things escalated and, well, someone got stabbed in the arm with the turkey fork.”

    “Johnny, do you need bail money?” I asked, trying not to laugh out loud. “Are you sitting in jail because your family will not bail you out after impaling your brother-in-law?”

    “No,” Johnny said, “The judge won’t set bail, I have to serve 90 days”.

    “Why?” I asked.

    “Well, I do not qualify for bail because of my previous manslaughter conviction.” Johnny said…as if it was a fact that we all had at our fingertips.

    Now, I have to say, and I think most folks who know me will agree, that I am rarely at a loss for words. But Johnny stumped me. I sat there, dumbfounded for what felt like a long time….then I heard Johnny put coins in a payphone and that snapped me back. “What conviction, Johny?”

    “When I was 17, I was joining a gang in LA. There was an altercation with another gang…someone was shot. I never even saw the gun, but I was slow over a fence and the police caught me. I served 5 years in prison.” I needed time to figure out what we were going to do,“I have to think about this, Johnny. Can you call me back later today?”


    Linc and I caucused on this and decided Johnny had to be at work that month or we were going to blow the quarter.

    I called the judge on Johnny’s case and begged for a work release program It was agreed that Johnny could do work release for two months and then he would have to serve a full month in jail. It was not easy, but the judge was a bit of a technofile and he was delighted to help Sun. Johnny was happy. He wanted to get back to work and spending the nights in the county jail was better than spending all day there.

    Q4 was great. Johnny did a great job. We all breathed a sigh of relief.

    Then Johnny needed to go to jail for a month.

    Sun was pretty big by this time. It had policies and procedures and a few personnel police had been hired. I knew that I could not just let Johnny go away for a month without an explanation. He couldn’t be paid, he couldn’t take vacation…and we were not going to fire him.

    I processed what I thought was the appropriate paper work and crossed my fingers.

    Crawford Beveridge called me a few days later.

    “Nance, talk to me about Johnny DLP” he said.

    “What do you want to know?” I asked.

    “ I have been told you have placed him on educational leave, is that right?”

    “Yes.” I replied.

    “Is he studying at an institution of of higher education?” asked Crawford.

    “He is in an institution.” I replied.

    “What is he learning?” asked CB.

    “Uh, not to bend over for the soap?” I answered.

    “OK,” said the unflappable Crawford, “so long as you think he is getting an education, I will approve this.”

    I will always love Crawford Beveridge.

    When I left Sun, Johnny DLP sent me an adorable note. I hope he is well and staying out of trouble.

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      1. I can’t stop reading these.
      2. My own company will need an HR person. Now that I know what that is. I thought it was mostly payroll and paperwork!
      3. My friends and family need an HR person.
      4. Parentheses aren’t necessary. Sentence fragments are OK. As long as it works!
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        The sexist behavior of those guys at Sun was just disgusting. It’s good she wrote about this.

        But at the first beer bust I went to, two of the sales guys were standing around rating the women…only they called them “units.

        Bob Coe once told me he did not have to interview the candidates for his Administrative Assistant position. I should simply ask each candidate to link her hands behind her head with her elbows pointing forward and walk toward the wall. If her elbows were the first part of her anatomy to touch the wall, she was eliminated from candidacy. All applicants whose breasts touched first, he would interview

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          it really is beyond the pale of what I would consider possible in a professional work environment.

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            I’m really glad she kept with it after the blowback she got!

            I wonder why we don’t hear these “horror stories” as much from HR folks (who presumably have far more visibility of them than engineers!) as often, but I suppose that it’s probably a much bigger career risk to call out this stuff publicly when your job description is basically to deal with all of it and make sure it doesn’t become a legal or PR issue.

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              One may wonder how Bob Coe would have found assistants if this was a 100% encouragement or direct order. Good thing we moved from boys-will-be-boys to disgusting, otherwise someone could really use this as a guideline in recruitment!