Justice and mercy

It (justice & mercy) has apparently come up as the next big thing, so those of you waiting for part 4 of my ECF baptism series will have to wait one more day before we continue there.

And, just to annoy half of the regular readers of the blog, I have yet another parable.

I work in an office next to another guy who is a lot like me, particularly in three respects:
[1] he and I both have rather expensive computers in our offices due to the kind of work we have to do
[2] he and I both have the same boss, who is the founder of the company
[3] he and I both drink Diet Cokes whilst doing what we do all day

Now, all the IT resources reading this blog just flinched because you shouldn’t drink Cokes (Diet or Leaded) whilst working with very expensive computer equipment – we all know that. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that we have no excuse for not knowing that. But the guy next door to me and I do it to live dangerously. We have deceived ourselves into believing that the consequences of drinking a Coke at your desk while using electronic equipment are minimal because we are more careful than most people, and we screw the tops back on between swigs.

However, yesterday we both got to work at the same time, logged into our workcenters, and by some quirk of fate both began reading this amazing blog entry by Scrappleface – Diet Cokes in hands.

And, as the wise would predict, we both gushed Diet Coke onto – and into – out expensive laptop computers with expensive docking equipment and various peripherals. In simultaneous speed-dials, Bill Hubbs (my neighbor) got IT first and said this:

“Listen guys: I know it’s against company policy, but I was drinking Coke while – yes, Diet Coke – I was drinking a Coke while reading Scrappleface this morning, and – yes, haha, yes, it’s very funny – look: I spit Coke into my laptop and I think I’m in serious trouble. I can’t fix it myself, and I need help – you’re the only ones who can help me.”

In the meantime, because I’m always the example in my examples, I took the rest of my Coke and placed it sideways on my laptop, and then called IT to say this:

“Cletus? You can’t believe what happened to me this morning. When I got to work today, I found someone had been sleeping in my bed monkeying around in my office, and had dumped a Coke into my laptop. What? No, I haven’t read Scrappleface this morning – I have a laptop full of Coke. No, it’s not my fault – I should be able to leave my computer at work once in a while, shouldn’t I? And why is somebody in my office after hours – isn’t that weird? Well, if you can’t replace it right now I’m going home. Do you hear me?”

Well, in order to get a new laptop, one’s boss has to sign off on it, and Bill and I were sitting in our boss’ waiting room this morning, and Bill went in first. He told the boss what he told IT, and the boss said he’d get a new laptop – the company would pay for it – but that Bill had to stop drinking Cokes in his office. The Company would pay the price for this mistake, but Bill as a result had to reform his work habits. Bill thanked the boss profusely, and went back to work.

Then the boss called me into the office. He didn’t looked very pleased with me as he looked at the incident sheet from IT. He was concerned that what I said happened was not everything exactly as it happened.

Indignant, I said to the boss, “I don’t understand. What do you mean?”

The boss looked me square in the eye and said, “cent, I know you drink Coke in your office – Diet Coke, even though the rules say you shouldn’t. Are you sure you found your laptop in your office this way?”

I got a little edgy. “Are you calling me a liar?” That always works when you want to bully someone into believing your version of the facts, doesn’t it?

The boss frowned at me and turned his PC monitor to me. He had the parking lot security cam 1 on there, and he did some quick typing. The image blinked, then it started moving, then I saw my car roll into the lot. I looked at the time stamp, and it said 0723 AM – the time I was getting to work yesterday morning. The boss didn’t say anything.

The video showed me getting out of my car with a Diet Coke in one hand, and my laptop case in the other. There wasn’t much for me to say after that.

Then my boss said this:

“Cent, I’m the only one who could have helped you here, but not only did you break the rules about drinks, and destroy company property through negligence, and then lie to get out of it, clearly you do not want my help. Since that’s the case, you are fired for cause without severance. If you don’t want to work for me, I don’t want you to work for me. Sercurity is going to meet you outside my office, walk you to your office, help you pack it up, and then take it out of the building for you. Don’t come back. You’re fired.”

I would suggest that if this ever happened, my boss would be 100% just in his decision to fire me, 100% just in his decision to be merciful to Bill, and in neither case would the issue of justice or atonement be “feigned” – even though my boss was the one who established and designed the rules.