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Under Fire
October 13 2009

Ed was only a few minutes away from the end of his shift when his cell phone rang. The caller was his supervisor and he had requested that Ed come to the office after signing off his post. Ed agreed and went about finishing his last patrol.
After Ed boarded the bus going in the opposite direction from his home he called his wife and told her that he would probably be about an hour late. She had wanted to know what it was about, but Ed couldn't tell her anymore than he knew. That it was something to do with the post orders and they were probably making a few changes to them. Since he was the early guard who readied the building for the clients and checked them all in he naturally would be called first. After putting his cell phone away he reached in his bag and took out his tube of cream to apply to his face. He hated the way his face looked. The roseacea had been especially bad this year, due to the intense heat. He spent four of the eight hours outside, and even though he wore a cap, his skin was still very susceptible to the rash that always broke out during extreme exercise or heat. Roseacea wasn't contagious it just changed his appearance.
He was lucky that he worked at a medical facility and they understood and knew about roseacea. There had been one problem a couple of weeks prior when a co-worker from the company complained that he had come down from a staph infection and suspected Ed had given it to him, but a simple trip to the doctor had taken care of that. But now there was something else cropping up, Ed figured it was because of the new office manager. New managers always wanted to change things to their liking. It never failed.
When Ed walked in the door to the office he overheard the supervisor and the new manager arguing. In fact everyone heard them. However most of the conversation was muffled behind closed doors, Ed could easily make out the words "what do you mean, I can't fire him."
"HE has a perfect record, in the eight months he has been employed here there has never been so much as a complaint against him. He has worked on all shifts, varied posts and no complaints. We should be so lucky with all of our employees." Ed recognized the voice of the supervisor, but didn't know for sure if the other voice belonged to the voice of the new manager. He nor anyone else he worked with had ever met the guy. He was the stranger behind closed doors whenever they went into the office for any reasons. As the door opened, his supervisor came out and shook Ed's hand. He told Ed to come in and then shut the door behind them. Ed couldn't believe his ears as the new manager began to speak.
"We have had a complaint that your face looks bad, and since you do work in a medical facility we have to remove you from your post".
"Because my face looks bad? Because this is not contagious, and that is why I didn't need a work release. Roseacea doesn't require someone to be off of work, it is just a skin condition that is affected by extreme heat and exercise."
"Well, taking all that into account, we are putting you on a night shift, where you will be at the mall late. No one will actually have direct contact with you", so this is for your health that we are doing this", the new manager stated. Unfortunately you will have to also take a cut in salary. IT's only a dollar and a half an hour though."
Ed sighed. He couldn't support his family on a dollar and a half less an hour. He could barely support them on what he was making. "The post on which you are putting me will require me to ride my bicycle for over 30 minutes each way to work. You are aware that I use a bicycle for work because my car broke down. Isn't that right? This post also will require me to use my bicycle or walk the 4-5 block area for 8 hours in order to cover the entire area. How do you think that will help my health? Wouldn't you consider that extreme exercise, which can and will affect the roseacea"? Ed leaned foward in his chair and looked the manager directly in the eye.
"I am sorry Ed, but this is my decision". Ed looked at the supervisor and he just hung his head down. He was at a loss as to what to do for this employee he considered valued.
Ed walked out and called his wife, and she told him as he had expected she would not to worry, that all would work out. Then he got back on the bus and proceeded to go home.
That night they discussed their options and Ed decided the best thing to do was not to quit his job before he had another one. They both fell asleep and were awakened by the phone ringing off the hook around 6:30 a.m. IT was the dispatcher asking him to be about 26 miles away within an hour. Ed asked if they knew he had to ride his bicycle and take the bus, and they said yes, they had thought about that and the field supervisor would come and pick him up. At least it would get him some hours he would have been losing. He agreed to be ready, but the field supervisor called him and was way on the other side of town, at the old address that he had lived at. He wasn't sure why, but that was the one the supervisor had given him, even though Ed had changed his address as soon as he had been assigned this post on a permanent basis. He had even moved within 2 miles so that if anything happened he could use his bicycle to get to work on time. Ed wondered what on earth was going on. The field supervisor finally showed up, and Ed got to the post. After having finished the day, it took him almost 3 hours by bus and bicycle to get home. He dropped, exhausted, his face swollen, in bed. Ed told his wife that his new post would begin on Thursday night, and that everything would be okay, that he didn't have to go back to the post so far away from home.
Within just a few short hours the phone rang again. The dispatcher told Ed that the field supervisor was on his way to pick him up and would be there within just a few minutes. His wife rushed to get his lunch ready, and he showered and dressed as quickly as he could. When the man got there he told Ed that evidently the other guard didn't show up and he was sorry for the short notice. Ed just grinned and crawled in the vehicle, placing his bicycle in the back. Thank heavens his wife had thought to pack his raincoat it was pouring and very cold that morning. As he drove about in the golf cart, (thank heavens he didn't have to walk this post) he thought about what all had happened, just because he had a skin condition that changed his appearance. Then his supervisor called. They were releasing him from that post earlier than the day before because another guard was showing up. By this time Ed was so disgusted, wet and cold, that when he got on the bus he called and requested to speak to the new officer manager. When the man picked up the phone Ed told him he was sorry but that he had been offered another position, even though it wasn't exactly the truth. He had been tentatively offered one, but it wasn't confirmed. He told the man he wouldn't be returning. All the man said was, "Well, we knew you would be looking for something, we just didn't think it would be so soon", then he hung up.
When Ed told his wife she was elated. She had felt that it was only a matter of time until the new office manager did try to find something to fire him on, regardless of the fact that he had a perfect record. AT least her husband was free of this horrid event,, or at least she thought.
However, the next morning when the phone rang very early and they wanted to know why ED wasn't on the post 26 miles away, he wasn't sure what to say. After all, he had reported directly to the new office manager, but apparently he forgot to tell anyone that Ed had indeed quit. IT was a nightmare that had turned bizarre.
Ed is still looking for a job and still wondering why a simple skin condition that is suffered by over 14 million people that is non contagious could cause all this ruckus.

(c) a. j. angerstein
oct. 13th, 2009
Article views: 4592


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