I write about my life and life itself seen through my eyes for who can write through the experiences of others if not their own?

Friday, March 19, 2010

I Made My Trainer Cry.

I took a temporary part time job for which I attended a mandatory training. Our classroom consisted of 14 new hires plus the trainer who had been hired two weeks before we were.

Most of the hires were unemployed and had been for a long. It’s no speculation to say I was the only one with a full time job, what a rarity in these times.

Our trainer soon showed his quick temper under pressure. Questions that he couldn’t answer were put on hold and if the student insisted, Mr. Trainer would snap raising his voice. When more than one person asked questions Mr. Trainer raised his voice even more and cursed, yes – Mr. Trainer used the F word and the blip hole and the blip (how do I blip out shit?).

Students quiet down looking at each other, no one daring speak up.

On our last day, we were given an assignment on the field and asked to be back in the classroom by 2:30 p.m. – only 45 minutes later. There were to be no buts, no excuses, no questions, we were to be back on time or else. Mr. Trainer had fallen behind schedule and had to catch up.

So we were back. His supervisor was in the room at the time and asked one by one the result of our assignment and each one stated they had not been able to finish it. Several reasons were given. Mr. Trainer reprimanded each person for not finishing. My reason was simple, I didn’t have enough time.

Why didn’t you ask for more time then? Mr. Trainer said.

I was instructed to come back by 2:30. I replied

Why didn’t you ask for more time?

Because I was instructed to come back by 2:30, I repeated.

You should have called me. YOU didn’t do what you were supposed to do.

I tried to explain politely that there were to be no excuses, no buts, no nothing, be back on time but I was unable to finish my sentence.


And just as politely I said “do not yell at me, please”

He lowered his voice but continued to scold me. No one had talked back at him so he was going on with me, the daring one.

Finally he let up and the class continued. At the end of the session, the students left the room. I waited as I was going to make the evening class the next day and needed directions. Mr. Trainer then offered an apology. I accepted it and asked if I could speak to him.

“Certainly” he said.

“I understand you are under pressure and that whatever we do, is your responsibility, and you have the difficult task of cramming all that work in our heads in 4 days. However, you lose your temper quite often and yell and curse. Mixed company here, men, women, older people….”

Mr. Trainer looked angry again. I bit my tongue, I really wanted to continue with my part time but unlike everyone else, I had the morning job as back up. The voice started raising again as he said “I DON’T CURSE SINCE 19XX…OKAY I DID USE THE F WORD ONCE…OR TWICE. I am your BOSS and if you are not understanding me I AM GOING TO RAISE MY VOICE UNTIL YOU DO”.

“Being my boss does not entitle you to yell and not agreeing with you is not the same as not understanding. Please do not yell”

Then he stopped, his face changed and he looked calm, almost relaxed.

We sat down and talked for about 20 minutes, laughing and bullshitting a bit. I thanked him for letting speak to him and shook his hand.

When I came in the next day, Mr. Trainer pulled me to the side. He said he had addressed the morning class and without using my name had said it had been brought to his attention that he was a little “rough” on people and had used foul language plus yelled a few times. Then he looked away and said “I got very emotional because I needed someone to tell me what I was doing so I could get back in control of my actions and be the nice guy I know I can be” When he looked at me, I saw the tears.

What happened in that exchange?

Back in that class I took years ago at work, I learned to do as I did with him. Simply ask to be treated with respect. When we respond to aggression with aggression, the outcome is heated and nasty. When we respond submissively like the class had, the aggressor becomes more spiteful. Asking for the tone to change or to be treated with respect is a response the angry person is not expecting, it is not the confrontation they are waiting for. And sometimes, many times when we act so out of control…we are out of control and we need something or someone to say “hey, cool it”.

If I had been in the same need of the job as the others were, I probably would not have dared tell Mr. Trainer how I felt. It is a shame that many times we must trade dignity for a paycheck.

But such is life in the rat race.