Glenn had put a few years into the company when I’d finally had enough. Eddie our contract mechanic along with another contract mechanic were working on a Cat 973 track loader that had some unusual issues. This was a newer model machine that shouldn’t have had issues with bearings wearing out. The two mechanics had quickly decided that Glenn wasn’t greasing the machine properly so we called Glenn on the company radio and requested him stop by our location. Now Glenn was the person that originally brought the issue to our attention so I knew this would be an interesting talk being that Glenn was also the one responsible for greasing it. When he pulled up he stated with confidence that he machine was screwed up and the grease would fall off of it. Now anyone that knows even a little about heavy equipment will have an issue understanding what he was talking about. When we looked at the spots on the machine that typically have grease pouring out of them, they were dry. Glenn’s explanation was that our decision to change greases a while back must have been the problem. He stated that the specific machine needed a “special” grease and because we wouldn’t buy it the stuff we were using was just “falling off”.
Now this is not a complicated situation. To simplify it, basically all that I’m talking about is point where the bucket arms connect to the machine have a pin and bushings that link them together similar to a very strong door hinge. This connection is metal against metal and grease is used to lubricate the metal and prevents it from wearing. But there is no rapid movement that would cause excessive heat. It became obvious based on Glenn’s story and his history of lying that this was more of the same.
After debating for a while with Glenn, one of the mechanics walked over to the machine and knocked one of the steel pins out with a sledge hammer. There was no evidence of grease anywhere on the pin, bushing or other places it would hide. Glenn’s explanation was that it must have evaporated. Shaking my head knowing that for whatever reason, Glenn had just cost the company several thousand dollars I decided it was time to send him down the road.
I’ve always hated firing people but it was the obvious action for me to take. I pulled Glenn aside and asked him to take his personal stuff out of the truck, it was time for him to move on down the road. This was the point that it turned awkward. Glenn started sobbing and crying like a child. He was begging me to let him stay around. My position was that my decision was final and the only person that could overturn it was my dad. Well, he requested a meeting so I called Ronnie and told him what the situation was and he said he could meet with Glenn in a half an hour at the CCI office (my uncle Kenny’s company).
For some reason I loaded Glenn up in my pickup truck and started driving him to the location. A few miles into our 10 minute trip Glenn started with the sobbing and he began reaching for me to hold his had to console him. I quickly ended this moment bonding moment by shaking him off me and in as direct a way as possiable saying “Glenn, keep yourself over there or I’m turning around” he kept his face buried in his hands and kept sobbing. That was fine with me because I wasn’t real fond of all this hand holding stuff, call me old fashioned but that’s second or third date moves in my world. This is the point where I questioned why I drove Glenn instead of telling him to drive himself.
We arrived at the meeting spot first and I knew if I sat in the truck to wait so would Glenn. I climbed out to stretch my legs and Glenn followed suit. As his feet hit the ground I looked at him and his knees were wobbling like a cartoon. He had his arms sticking out like a tightrope walker for balance and he finally fell back against my pickup seat and decided it was best to stay seated. It really difficult to watch events like this as if it’s normal behavior. I did my best to not react inappropriately for most people in the business would have either started laughing or yelling at him to stop the BS act.
Within a few minutes my father pulled up and Glenn once again climbed out of my truck to speak with him. He made his case and begged for another chance. While they were discussing his future the thought popped into my head that regardless of the outcome, I was going to have to drive Glenn back after we were through. Great! It was decided that he could keep his job but he needed to straighten up and Glenn broke down in tears. He was facing my father as they talked and in a swift movement he lunges forward and wraps his arms around big Ronnie. As I watched this I smiled a little watching the expression on my dads face. He grabbed Glenn’s arms and peeled him away and in a stern voice said “Glenn, you ever go to huggin on me like that I will fire you. Now get back to that truck and stop this stuff, you can’t just hug a person like that!”
Well, now I had to return Glenn to his truck. The entire drive this 50 something year old man rode with his face in his lap sobbing. Every now and then he would come up for air and tell me how proud he was going to make me then he’d lower his head and continue to sob.
Coming from the construction world where emotions are typically repressed, this was new ground for me. We don’t have HR departments to deal with peoples issues so we do the best we can. Now I know you can say Glenn was just worried about losing his job but this all happened around 2004 when the Austin construction economy was booming and there was a shortage of skilled workers. He could have found a new job by days end if he wanted to.
I have a general understanding of personality disorders and I am certain Glenn suffered from some type of trauma in his past. I always felt sorry for him, not because he cried out for sympathy but because of his actions. For someone to lie and deceive the way Glenn did for the reasons he did was hard to understand but I always knew there was some hidden cause from his past that was the source.
I left Lewis Contractors to start my own company several months after this event and Glenn survived another year or two before he was let go for a similar cause. What an interesting fellow.