I gave at the office. (Just what is a kidney worth?)
Not that it ever led to fame or fortune – just plenty of worthless options – but I always prided myself on being someone who gave my all at work, went above and beyond, etc.
Over the years, I lost plenty of sleep; risked my health by cleaning out completely toxic office fridges; developed heart palpitations after slurping down too many Diet Cokes while trying to get a project completed under tight deadline; and once, after a failed meeting with a prospective company funder, got hit in the head with a gourd (don’t ask; it drew blood but did no permanent damage).
But I never actually put myself in physical peril for the sake of my job.
In this, I am unlike Deborah Stevens, who gave one of her kidneys to Jacqueline Brucia, her boss at Long Island’s Atlantic Automotive Group.
Brucia didn’t get Stevens’ kidney directly. Rather, this was a give one-take one deal in which Stevens threw hers into a communal bucket (metaphorically speaking), and Brucia pulled one out that was a perfect match.
According to Stevens, the only thanks she ever got from her boss came in the form of an email reading, "Thanks more than I can ever say." (Source: CBS News.)
Now we all know that goodness is its own reward. (Good thing.)
But one would think that, in this case, the boss-lady could have done a bit more than “Thanks more than I can ever say.”
Maybe a nice flower arrangement sent to the hospital during Stevens’ stay. Maybe meals delivered for Stevens first month home. Maybe a big fat gift certificate to Bloomingdale’s.
I don’t think it’s reasonable for Stevens to have expected anything work-ish like a raise or a bonus, or permanent employment – even though I’m sure she at least fleetingly thought, ‘boy, this is going mean job security – but an e-mail thanks?
Come on. They weren’t friends or family. They worked together, with Stevens in a subordinate position. (Begging the question why, given that this was not a direct kidney exchange, that there was no one closer to Brucia who was willing to giver her a kidney.)
And this wasn’t like saving someone’s life by pushing them out of the way of the renegade bus. It was at non-trivial cost to Stevens in terms of time and pain, and non-trivial risk.
But wait, there’s more.
Although Stevens returned to work a month after she donated her kidney, she still wasn’t feeling all that hot. So she went home.
Okay, maybe Stevens was milking her noble deed, but it seems as if Brucia could have gone one better than haranguing her:
'Well you can't just can't come and go as you please. People are going to think you're getting special treatment.'
Which is probably why Brucia should have refused to let Stevens donate a kidney in her name to begin with.
I realize that, when your life is at stake, you might not be thinking all that clearly, but one would think that Brucia and Stevens would have at least talked through the implications of Stevens’ generous, but perhaps misguided, offer.
Things escalated, and Stevens hired a lawyer.
In retaliation, she found herself transferred to a location 50 miles away, which, given Long Island traffic, is probably the elsewhere equivalent of 100 miles away.
Then Stevens was fired.
Brucia told WCBS Monday that she "will always be very grateful that she gave me a kidney. I have nothing bad to say about her. She did a wonderful thing for me. And I wish her the best."
Which certainly comes off as just a tad callous.
So Stevens is suing.
In a statement, the Atlantic Auto Group said, "It is unfortunate that one employee has used her own generous act to make up a groundless claim. Atlantic Auto treated her appropriately and acted honorably and fairly, at every turn."
Maybe Stevens was (deliberately or not) trying to work Brucia’s guilt, and it just got to be too much for Brucia. Maybe Stevens fellow employees were fed up with the ‘I gave my kidney’ act. Maybe Stevens is an out and out weasel. Or maybe Brucia’s a stone cold bee-yotch.
But whatever Stevens is or is not, whatever Brucia is or is not, you’d think that Brucia and Atlantic Automotive would have figured out some way to keep Stevens around, or get rid of her and keep her quiet – and from making them look like callous, heartless, selfish a-holes and giving their company a bad name. Maybe a years salary and benefits. Health care coverage for a couple of years. A nice new car.
Bet there are plenty of regrets on both sides, here.
Meanwhile, it reminds me of a story about an old friend of ours.
Years ago, our friend, his wife, his brother and sister-in-law, and our friend’s boss and his wife, were all out to dinner together.
The boss’ wife – I can’t remember the exact details – either had a heart attack or was choking to death. Our friend’s sister in law, who happens to be an MD, jumped in and saved Mrs. Boss.
Within a couple of days, our friend was laid off.
Guess Mr. Boss wasn’t that fond of Mrs. Boss…
Thanks, but no thanks, more than I can ever say.
Labels: bad business behavior