An interesting debate was triggered this week when Hydro One in Ontario terminated an employee for what they classified as conduct unbecoming.
This employee, along with several other males had apparently been watching a soccer game at a stadium and after the game they interrupted a young female reporter who was reporting from outside the stadium.
They yelled certain vulgarities and sexual innuendos in her direction and when she confronted them and pointed out how disrespectful their behaviour was, they simply hurled further inappropriate statements in her direction, all in the name of fun.
It seems they were continuing a recently developed trend whereby young males interrupt reporters – mostly female – while they are doing their jobs and launch their abusive and crude comments as a means of hijacking their work.
What I found interesting was that the focal point of the debate centred around whether Hydro One had acted correctly, or legally, in terminating this person’s employment.
In reading media reports from across the country and listening to a few folks calling in to talk shows the topic of interest focused on whether employers have the right to judge a person’s conduct while outside of their employment and on their own time.
Certainly there were comments on both sides of this argument and even opposing legal opinions were presented by several lawyers who were contacted and asked to weigh in.
Personally, I have no thoughts as to whether the conduct of the employer was legal, appropriate or correct but I would be lying if I said or did not support their action.
It seems that the topic of this debate was in fact the wrong one. The correct topic for the debate, in my opinion, is to discuss the complete levels of disrespect, inappropriateness, and simply puerile, immature and disgusting behaviour that seems to now be perfectly acceptable in the cause of having a good time.
Can anyone explain to me what could possibly be happening inside the head of a supposed adult that would make this type of behaviour okay?
I remember commercials many years ago touting the wonders of a particular brand of coffee and, if memory serves correctly, the tagline read, “Instant goodness, just add water.”
In reading of this type of rapidly increasing behaviour it seems to me an appropriate tagline that would succinctly tell the entire story should read, “Instant moron, just add alcohol.”
Many readers and callers to talk shows rallied around this former employee’s right of free speech and his right to conduct himself as he sees fit.
What seemed to be forgotten in all of this were the rights of those he offended.
There did not seem too much discussion as to the reporter’s right to be respected, her right to do her job without interruption and her right to be treated with dignity and not as an object of lewd derision.
I am no prude. I have done many things in my life I wish I could retract and there are many people I will probably never meet to whom I owe an apology but the levels to which our societal standards have now dropped, and the yardstick by which acceptability of behaviour is now measured, can only lead one to conclude that we are not heading in the right direction.
Respect, it seems for many, is something they only desire for themselves and is not necessary to extend to others.
Two days ago I asked a man to move his car from a clearly marked Handicapped parking stall in the front of the condo building where I live.
We are having concrete stairs repaired it turned out he was the site supervisor for the company doing the work. His first response to my request was, without looking up, to raise two fingers to signify he would only be two minutes.
When I asked him again to move his car he raised his head, glared at me and said, “I told you I am only going to be to be two minutes.”
When I demanded that he move his car rolled his eyes – like any good five-year-old would – and muttered something to his coworkers which contained the word @$$hole.
I asked him how he could possibly consider it to be okay to park in a clearly marked Handicapped spot. He ignored my question and asked me who (the f***) I was.
I told him I was simply the person asking him to move his car out of a Handicapped parking stall and to be respectful to others. He ignored me until I pointed out that I was also a member of the condominium board of directors and the person who had authorized his company doing this work.
I also pointed out I was the person reviewing his company’s proposal to do substantially more work around our property.
His demeanour changed immediately. He looked at me and said, “I’m sorry sir I did not know who you are.”
He then started walking towards his parked vehicle to go and move it. I stopped him and asked why my position on the board of directors would have any bearing how he conducts himself and that I would be letting his boss know of our dissatisfaction with this individual’s behaviour.
Clearly this was the wrong thing to say for he drove away, went around the block, came back onto our property and parked in a way as to block all vehicle access to our property.
We have zero tolerance for people parking in our sole Handicapped stall and not a day passes without our building concierge asking people not to park there and always hearing the same response, “I’m only going to be two minutes.”
We gleefully have these cars ticketed and towed whenever we can.
Perhaps I am overreacting in my thoughts of the behaviour of those young men and of this site supervisor.
I would really appreciate it if you take the time and share with me your thoughts and let me know whether I did indeed overreact or whether we should truly be concerned about this thing called respect that seems to have been relegated to distant memory.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Till we read again.