Justin, a 36-year-old employee, was once a hard-working and sincere employee who spent most of his spare time helping other employees with their work. He was in line for a promotion for his selfless work attitude, and everyone on the shop floor knew about this. However, things changed a few months back and Justin began to abstain from work. When he showed up for work, he was conspicuously late, and the management was getting frustrated by his lackadaisical attitude. I was called into our manager’s cabin and told to deal with Justin suitably. The management wanted me; as their workplace supervisor, to get tough on him. After our brief salutation, I told Justin to meet me during the lunch break as i had something to discuss with him. The place of intervention is the cafeteria, and the meeting is to take place during lunch. I had planned the intervention with the team earlier in the day and didn’t want to discuss it directly with Justin, and so, wrote a letter to him. Dan, another employee was very close to Justin, and I sent the letter to Justin through him. I asked Judy; Justin’s wife, to come to the cafeteria ten minutes after Dan entered the cafeteria.
At the appointed time, Justin walked into the cafeteria and sat down in a corner table so that he wasn’t the focus of attraction. Just then, Dan walked in and after scanning the cafeteria, saw Justin sitting behind a corner table. Justin was surprised to see Dan, and as he got up to go, Dan told him that he had come at my instance and he had a letter that I wanted him to read out to him.
Justin: I think I know why I was asked to come herebut why are you here?
Dan: Justin, I know how hard it must be for you, but I want to help you. There is a lot of talk going around the shop floor that the management is worried, and are exploring different possibilities to see production move forward.
Justin: If that is why you’re here, don’t waste your energy. I know what I’m doing and I don’t care what the management or others are talking about me.
Dan: Justin, how would you have reacted if you were told the same way when you came and helped me with my work?
Justin: I wouldn’t have cared the least. I would have left you there with your problems and walked away.
Dan: But did you? You couldn’t. Your conscious wouldn’t have allowed you to. That is the same reason why I’m here as our supervisor’s postman.
Justin: (A little perplexed) finewhat does the supervisor want with me? Show me the letter. Dan: Sorry friend, I was told to read it out to you. He trusted me and that is why he asked me to read the letter to you.
Just then Judy enters the cafeteria and walks directly to the table. (She seemed to be fighting back her tears, and Dan became uncomfortable). Sensing this, Judy told Dan not to go and wanted him there for them. Dan agrees and opens my letter.
Dan: (Reading my letter) Dear Justin, I know how hard it must be for you, having seen another friend of mine, falling victim to drugs and alcohol abuse. I didn’t have the courage to say this on your face, but you had a great future ahead of you and Judy. There was a recommendation floated to have you promoted as section supervisor, and it almost came through, till you got caught in drugs and alcohol abuse. For a smart person like you, you had a bright future ahead of you. Judy was almost on the verge of breaking down, and even talked of committing suicide, unable to see you in the condition you are in.
Justin was becoming uneasy now, and Judy was on the verge of crying; her eyes became red, and there were tears in her eyes. Dan found himself in the most difficult position. His hands were trembling, and he couldn’t find words coming from his mouth. Gathering some courage, Dan looked down at my letter and began to read it hurriedly. Justin, he began, “your future is in your hands; don’t let alcohol or drugs ruin it. You have such a loving and caring wife, and she too, like did in the past, have big ideas and hope of a better tomorrow. What you are doing today is not only hurting you, it is robbing Judy of her happiness and dreams.” In studies conducted by Tantam and Whittaker, for those people who took drugs and alcohol regularly, the suicidal rate was over 16%. However, with early treatment, it was found that patients ‘improved’ considerably, and that those in their 30s and 40s after treatment overcame dangerous self-harming thoughts (Bhugra & Munro, 1997, p.211). Let me assure you that I will take personal responsibility and see that you overcome the problems you have today. Our company has a policy that supports treatment for alcohol problems, and I can arrange for your immediate medical leave so that you can start the treatment without any further delay. All I need you to do is give me your assurance that you will come back to the office a better man. No one, other than Dan, Judy, the management and I, will have knowledge of this, and the matter will be treated in extreme confidence.
I want you to take Judy homeyes; it was my idea that Judy meets you and Dan in the cafeteria. Call me once you relax, and we’ll get your appointment for tomorrow fixed.
We are all waiting for you to come back to the family. I know it’s not going to be an easy decision at this point of time, but whatever you do, think of Judy. She needs you. I tried this once and failed, and I’m giving it a second chance in the hope that sanity will prevail.
Bhugra D and Munro A, (Ed. 1997), Troublesome Disguises: Underdiagnosed Psychiatric Syndromes, Blackwell Science Ltd, Journal, Oxford, London, ISBN: 0865426740