An hour into her shift, Fred asked Shannon to pick up a small, expanding, accordion-sided file-folder out of supplies and bring it into his office.
When she got there, she noticed that Rose was already seated to one side of Fred’s minimalist desk.
As Fred closed the door he said to the two tellers who were still on duty “This might take an hour. Please don’t disturb us.”
“No problem, Fred” the closest teller reassured him. “We got this.”
Shannon noticed that Fred’s face was bright red and she wondered if he had been in the sun the previous evening.
Fred sat down with a sigh. “This is the worst part of being a boss” Fred said.
“I have been directed by headquarters to discipline you because it is alleged that you acted in a manner that reflected negatively on the Credit Union.”
“Rose is in here to be a witness and to ensure that proper procedures are followed. As you know, Rose is very good at not sharing sensitive information. She is here for both your protection and mine” Fred said.
Shannon’s stomach fell. DISCIPLINE? HER?
Shannon knew that Rose would not divulge a secret even under duress. But she also know that Rose was completely loyal to Fred and if push came to shove, it wasn’t going to be Fred who was thrown under the bus.
Shannon took a couple of deep breaths and let them out slowly to calm down.
“I do not recall acting in a way that reflected negatively on the Credit Union, not ever” Shannon finally choked out.
“It appears that Mr Rogers was not too drunk to scan the QR code on one of our brochures. He filed a complaint” Fred said.
“I don’t know what you did to piss off the people at head-quarters, but they flagged it because of your name. I just got off of the phone with a MISS Washington in Human Relations” Fred said.
“But he wasn’t even a customer!” Shannon exclaimed.
“I explained all of that” Fred said. “I also said that he was visibly under-the-influence and was asking for a service we don’t offer.”
Fred shot a glance at Rose who was calmly observing but not participating in the exchange. She was the classic fly-on-the-wall.
Then Fred said “Miss Washington, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion director at HR directed me to dismiss you but I was able to talk her down to a Letter-in-Your-File...a 'Last Chance' Letter.”
Shannon was shocked. “Dismiss me?”
Fred nodded. “I informed Miss Washington that I had downloaded copies of the security films and that dismissing you might reflect poorly on the Credit Union, and on her personally if you chose to contest the dismissal. That is when she changed direction and told me to write the letter.”
“What are you going to do?” Shannon asked.
“I am going to do what I was directed to do and I am going to follow procedures” Fred said.
“First of all, do you remember the incident with Mr Rogers that happened…”
“Yes, I do” Shannon said.
Fred pulled a pad of ruled-paper and a pen out his desk drawer. “I am going to have you write your own 'Last Chance Letter'. It isn’t because I am cruel or sadistic but because you will remember it better if you write it in your own hand.”
“The other reason I want you to write it out by hand is that electronic copies never die. This way, I can time activate it and once it is shredded it is gone forever” Fred said.
Regardless of what Fred said, it seem to add insult to injury but Shannon realized that she was not in a position to complain.
“In the upper right corner of the page write today’s date."
"Then write: This letter documents the events of _______ and the interactions with Randy Rogers in the lobby of this Credit Union and serves notice should another incident occur”
Shannon quickly wrote what she was directed to do. The act of writing calmed her.
“At approximately….” Fred laid out the barest facts of Randy’s entrance, his loud voice and slurred words and then his demands.
“At this time we need to brainstorm what you could have done differently...in fact what you WILL do differently the next time something like this happens” Fred said.
Shannon looked bewildered. She couldn’t think of anything she could have done differently.
“Take your time” Fred advised her.
Fred and Rose sat in silence while Shannon's mind raced frantically around in circles.
“I know this sounds stupid” Shannon started after thinking for two whole minutes “but when you crossed the counter so you were on the customer side, I think I should have taken several steps back, away from Randy.”
“Write that down” Fred said.
After writing a couple of paragraphs Shannon looked back up.
“Anything else?” Fred asked.
“If I had know this was going to happen” she said, gesturing at the pad she was writing on “I would have written it all out yesterday while it was still fresh in my mind.”
“Write that down, too” Fred said.
Shannon wrote that out.
“Hand me the letter” Fred demanded. After quickly reading it, he signed and dated the letter. Then he pushed it over to Rose and she did the same.
“Now I want you to write your name on the folder you brought in with you and place this letter into it” Fed said.
Looking over at Rose he asked “Can you attest that Shannon was disciplined in full compliance with the Credit Union’s employee handbook and that a “Last Chance Letter was placed in her file?”
“Yes I can” Rose said. “I saw it with my own eyes.”
“Now, Shannon, you and I are going to place your folder into storage” Fred said. “Rose, I want you to stay in this office.”
Rose nodded her assent.
“Pick up the folder with your letter in it and follow me” Fred said.
Shannon did as she was told. She had assumed that all of the personnel files were electronic but it was possible that some of them were still ink-and-paper out in the sticks.
She followed him out into the main lobby area and Fred walked over to the shredder. “I want you to ‘file’ your folder into the slot marked “for secure documents” Fred said.
Shannon was sure Fred was joking.
“Go on. Check to make sure the letter is secured within the folder and then ‘file’ it” Fred demanded.
Shrugging, Shannon fed the folder into the shredder and heard the whirring as the machine turned the folder and the letter contained within it into high-fiber spaghetti and tumbled them into the secure-destroy bag.
“If anybody from Headquarters asks, tell them I did exactly as directed to do by H-Q. But inside of this building, never forget that I am boss and I will run things the way that I think is right. If you do right by my lights and you take care of our customers, I will have your back.”