Friday, January 12, 2007

No Tolerance for Zero Tolerance

This week we've lost a volunteer. Saturday, Mike Q. is leaving on a jet plane. This is nothing less than tragic. Actually, I believe 'ironic' would be a better describer. Mike was faced with 'administrative separation' for not calling Peace Corps to tell them that he would be out of his site. He was working in San Jose, and simply forgot to call in. It's something I, in my gnat-like attention span and attention to detail, have done more than once. Peace Corps found out and he was given the option to quit or be fired. So he had 24 hours to pack his things, say goodbye to his community and get out of the country. There is a policy, of course. The new policy is 'zero tolerance' and he is being made an example of. Anytime subjectivity is removed from punishments, it always seems to fall on the people that deserve it the least.

People need to call in. It's a safety thing. And yes, there are plenty of people that are screwing around, vacationing more than they are working, and there needs to be consequences. Those people are better (luckier) at not getting caught.

Mike was an excellent volunteer. His heart was in his work. He was doing great things. He, in many ways, embodied what a Peace Corps Volunteer should be. With zero tolerance, none of that matters. I am about to start a series of workshops teaching parents how to administer appropriate consequences to their children so that the message is not lost in the punishment. Maybe I should start with the office. The message we are getting is that as long as we are physically in our sites, it really doesn't matter if we are doing anything else or not. If our work performance is irrelevant in keeping our jobs... what does that say?

Mike will be fine. He is meant to be elsewhere. He'll move on from this and do great things...somewhere else. It's our loss. It's the loss of his community. Of course, if there were no injustice in the world, we would be out of a job.

Anyhoo, good luck Mike! You will be missed. Your absence will devastate Costa Rica's datability potential. :)


Anonymous said...

In a perfect world man-made rules work well, indiscriminately and all the time. If this were a perfect world, you wouldn't have a job.
Too bad about Mike.

Anonymous said...

you better make sure to make your curfue! (sp?)

Anonymous said...

If that picture is of Mike, it's probably not the best to engender sympathy for him. ;))

The real point is that sometimes in the real world, some rules are simply non-negotiable, just as in parenting, too... you and I may have had a similar discussion somewhere in your lifetime...

We hope this cold spell goes away soon... (-) degrees are not fun! It just keeps on snowing, as well.

Hope you're doing well.


Anonymous said...

I guess I forgot to mention that he was not the only one to get caught... just the only one to get kicked out for it. That, dear mother, is the real world. Rules are negotiable for some and not for others.

Anonymous said...

Something tells me some facts are confidential and you might have been told only what he wanted you to hear. These decisions are weighed heavily b/4 being made. I hope no one else succumbs, you said others do it too. If you make the choice, the consequences must be do-able and an acceptable risk. You folks are making choices that risk a true gift. I'd think I'd died and gone to heaven to be where you are now.
RPCV from MN

tim said...

Yup - that really stinks. Unfortunately, it is often the occasion that those who enforce the rules are unable to make the kinds of subjective determinations that would exist in more ideal systems. I wish the police officer would REALLY believe that I didn't see that stop sign for example (but there's no way for me to prove that). No one likes it when these policies have this kind of impact on the good guys.
Future PCV (IT, Ghana, June 2007+)