It has long been my view that those who hide behind “company policy” for repulsive decision-making are those who tend to leave their sense of morality at the door when they come to work.
This may the case with all-too-recently employed Walmart worker Kristopher Oswald of Detroit, who was sitting in his car on his break around 2:30 in the morning, when according to an account he gave to WXYZ-TV news, he saw a man grabbing a woman in the parking lot.
Oswald then did what we have all been taught to do . . . simply because it is the right thing to do. He asked the woman if she needed help. At this point her stalwart companion began punching Oswald in the head, telling him that he was going to kill him.
Oswald was able to get on top of the man, but two other men sprang upon him from behind.
Walmart, looking at the situation with the Solomonic wisdom we have come to expect from them, fired Oswald.
No, we don’t want violence in the workplace and Walmart wisely has policies against that sort of thing. But terminating someone because they did the decent thing and prevented harm from coming to another human being?
Especially in a time when so much effort is being made to educate men about domestic abuse, and how none of us should just stand by and allow it to happen?
Well, Icky Reader, not so much in this case. The company said that it “understood” the reasons for Oswald’s actions - while taking care not to praise them - but hey, orders is orders.
According to Ashley Hardie of Walmart, “We had to make a tough decision, one that we don’t take lightly, and he’s no longer with the company.”
To say that there is something morally obscene about this would be putting it lightly, I think.
Is Walmart so hidebound, or intellectually rigid, that there are folks in the dark levels of decision-making in Bentonville who don’t realize that Kristopher Oswald, far from being someone they should boot out on his ass, should perhaps be Employee of the Month?
It’s a tough world out there, and like most guys, I fantasize that I would have the guts to intervene if I saw somebody hassling a woman in public.
But Kristopher Oswald actually did, and at 2:30 in the morning. What was he supposed to have done? Sat in his car and watched? Waited until the woman was seriously hurt - if not killed - so he could be a witness in court?
Or just look the other way, and go on back inside the store at the end of his break, and forget about the whole thing? That would be quite a story to tell his kids, if he has any.
“I would have saved her, but policy prevented me.”
Public reaction to Oswald's termination was swift and and predictable - something Walmart should probably have expected, if they had any common sense about the matter.
I hope that someone, deep within the bowels of the Bentonville Behemoth, is capable of feeling a modicum of shame when they consider the matter of Kristopher Oswald. I hope that they are capable of putting themselves in the shoes of a woman being physically assaulted in the wee small morning hours in the parking lot of a Walmart, only to see the one man who dares come to aid her pummeled to the ground.
What is her life like today? Have they given one tiny thought to her?
I hope that somewhere inside Walmart someone can push for a change in a policy that means well on the face of it, but when it punishes the wrong people, and extraordinary circumstances are not recognized, then it is time to revisit that policy.
And them perhaps even a Walmart executive might muster the courage to leap from their vehicle, should they find themselves facing the same situation that Kristopher Oswald found himself in.
Quote of the Day
Without doubt half the ethical rules they din into our ears are designed to keep us at work. - Llewellyn Powys