The guy drinks too much. Smokes dope on the job and is ‘under the influence’ way more than not. He’s a bit less than attractive, too. His work is excellent despite that, and he could drywall a scarecrow to look like a supermodel. Admittedly, he looks a bit anti-social and, being in such a trade, he is always dusty, unkempt, down at the heels and looks like something the cat wouldn’t even drag in. I met him a few years ago. He was a good guy to me and Sally. And we liked him.
After a shift at a job he was on a few days ago, he left late in the morning. The reason for that is that he starts very early or sometimes works through the night. Drywalling work is not compatible with other trades work. Contractors and other subtrades prefer the drywallers to be unseen, unheard and yet do perfect work – somehow magically. That usually means working weird hours. Drywallers try to work around the other trades.
His job at this time was in an expensive penthouse in Downtown. After work, he walked to his car, stayed in it for a few extra minutes, maybe making a call and then, driving less than perfectly, made his way out of the lot. I know this because his actions were caught on the security tape and also because the security tape was soon being reviewed.
An outraged woman told security that her laptop had been stolen from her car. She had arrived at the building early and left before noon, shortly after the departure of the drywaller. The cameras showed only him walking in the area during this time. They did not show that he broke into her car and they did not show him carrying a laptop. But she concluded that he was the thief. She called the chair of the strata building, they called the police and they also called the general contractor who had let the drywall contract to the fellow being accused. The two women demanded that the drywaller return the computer and they demanded the contractor fire the guy and that the general also do extra credential checking to ensure that his other tradespeople were not criminals.
The general contractor apologized to the drywaller but said he had no choice but to fire him a few days before Christmas because that was the alleged victim’s and the strata council’s chair’s demand. The contractor also offered to replace the missing laptop, even though he did not believe his subtrade worker had taken it. It is worth noting that the owner of the penthouse – the one who hired the contractor – was not involved. The person making the accusation was simply a woman claiming to have been keeping an early appointment in the building. She was supported in that contention by the chair with whom the meeting had occurred.
The drywaller denied the allegation but had no choice but to stop work. He would lose a large portion of his December income since he had set aside the time to do this job and had no other contract to continue with. Given his proclivities, he might be excused if he had simply given up on December and was planning on spending even more time less conscious.
After all the running around and firing and the setting of hair-on-fire had played out the woman called the building manager. She called to inform him that she had erred. She had left her computer at home.
A new drywalling firm had already been hired. The contractor had spent the day running one way and then the other. The previous drywaller had his reputation impugned. The building manager was embarrassed and offered the drywaller $100 from his own pocket as an apology. The chair of the strata board was not heard from. She ducked away. Neither has the woman who made the accusation apologized or made good any type of compensation.
Now imagine this story playing out a bit differently. In this version it is the drywaller who’s computer is missing from the front seat of his car. In this fantasy version it is the smartly dressed business woman who is caught on the security tape walking to her car and getting into it. In this version the drywaller views the video with the building manager and concludes the woman is a thief. The police are called. The outraged drywaller insists that this woman’s employer be called and that she be fired on the strength of his allegation. And that her co-workers and boss are informed of this misdeed and their backgrounds are also re-checked.
Do you see that ever happening? Of course not. So why is it happening here? Is it the clothes? Is it the type of work they do? Could it be a gender bias? Is it perceived social status?
And, given the example set of ‘trying to do the right thing’ by the general contractor and the building manager, why, if the two women learn of their error are they not falling all over themselves trying to fix it?
Can anyone explain that to me?