After showing that he is trustworthy and is capable of improving his life, he was recently given permission to leave the halfway house. I met Eldon (an alias) at our town’s Goodwill Store. Eldon has a chipper, outgoing personality and greets close acquaintances with a wide smile and fist-bumps. His personality has made him quite popular with his colleagues and casual acquaintances.
Eldon recently came off of probation at the store and in line for a pay raise and a full-time clerk position. Last month, he began renting a small old house and started furnishing his new pad with second-hand furniture and hand-me-down kitchen utensils. In December, he adopted a kitten so he could have company at home.
Naturally, I was over the Moon with happiness about Eldon’s progress in recovery from his old drug addiction lifestyle. He remained clean from all mind-altering substances–including alcohol. The state authorities released Eldon from all official supervisory requirements. Eldon, his coworkers, and we customers encouraged him to further keep his life in line and continue his amazing progress into the new year.
At the beginning of this month, I noticed that Eldon had not greeted me nor was he anywhere to be seen in the store. I guessed that he might be taking time off to visit his family in central Nebraska. A few days later, Tammy, the store’s regional manager, who is also one of my friends, showed up at the store. I asked if she was there to help fill in because of Eldon’s absence. She pulled me aside and said that she had to let Eldon go due to misconduct. He was no longer even allowed inside the building nor on the property. I didn’t push Tammy for details because the conditions of firing employees is none of my business. Needless to say, I felt disappointment about Eldon’s situation.
Word eventually got around the rumor mill about the supposed reason he was let go. It is alleged that he was caught on surveillance cameras of regularly pocketing small jewelry items from the backroom donations area. Apparently, after Eldon was confronted with the video evidence, the store manager terminated his employment agreement.
Tammy has often complained that backroom “shrinkage” at retail stores is a big problem. That’s why most stores have backroom surveillance cameras to keep track of employees. Even though all the workers are aware that there are cameras and that those cameras are switched on to record, there are still some outliers who disregard or minimalize the cameras’ presence. Prudent store management policy in Tammy’s district mandates that any employee who is caught stealing must be fired and barred from appearing on store property.
I doubt that I’ll ever run into Eldon again. I can only hope that his firing does not impede his otherwise good progress in recovery. If I ever see him on the streets, I’ll continue to encourage him in his personal efforts to improve his life. Meanwhile, Tammy and I discussed how difficult it is to continue encouraging people after we’ve both witnessed so many folks backsliding into harmful habits and illegal behavior. Tammy, being the upbeat, optimistic person she is, each time manages to mentally brush herself off and resume her duties with yet more lessons learned about business.
We all make mistakes. Some people make big mistakes and other people have petty slip-ups. All we can do is work to correct mistakes as best as we can and encourage ourselves to continue. When family, friends, and acquaintances slip-up, we have the option to give them moral support when they make honest efforts to improve. In the end, all we can do is to support their efforts and make sure they understand we’re on their side. It’s good to encourage them to learn from their mistakes and to discover how to make good decisions and do the right thing.
If one is alone in one’s journey, one can always find words of encouragement to boost our morale. This will not only help one cope, but can empower one to thrive–if that is the desire. It’s really up to us to own the results and consequences of our decisions and actions regardless of anyone else’s influence.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the founder of Gestalt therapy, Fritz Perls. “Our dependency makes slaves out of us, especially if this dependency is a dependency of our self-esteem. If you need encouragement, praise, pats on the back from everybody, then you make everybody your judge.”
The future doesn’t sound promising for Eldon. But you never know.
No employer is going to be willing to hire a prospect who was let go from a previous job for theft. Eldon will have to learn entrepreneurial skills or settle for grunt work.
I hope Eldon is able to correct his shortcomings. People can’t alter their inherent physical and mental make up but they can change their behavior when motivated to do so.
He has a good support network, so hopefully he will benefit from people’s guidance.
I hope that you are right.
What a setback for Eldon! This may be hard for him to recover from.
Being fired from a thrift store is not a good sign.
How sad that, even with his improvements and new life, Eldon was not able to refrain from pilfering. I wish him well. And good thoughts to you for your friendship and encouragement.
Life improvement often happens with a “ratcheting” effect…one full revolution forward and half a revolution backwards.
Unfortunately so. Let’s hope he can recover and move on.