CHICAGO, IL – Amanda Funston, 42-year old Customer Service worker at Boostercorp, has been suspended without pay for one week. The charge: she’s too cheerful.
Boostercorp, headquartered in downtown Chicago, is a maker of energy drinks like BoostMeNow® and Gimme My Giddyup®. Workers like Funston apparently have far too much “giddy” in their “giddyup” for the tastes of the company’s home office.
“You know what she says to me every day, rain or shine?” Says Sandra Kohling, Customer Service Rep and Funston’s co-worker. “She says, ‘GOOD Morning,’ with this huge emphasis on the ‘good’ part. Like any day could possibly be that good. I’ve got problems, you know? Everybody does.” She pauses to empty half a can of BoostMeNow® into her coffee. “When she makes this big deal out of the day being so good, it’s like she’s shining over all the problems I’ve got to deal with. How insensitive is that?”
Funston’s supervisor, George Haupt, suspects the sincerity of anyone who is so consistently nice. “You know how many times she’s been in here for getting into an argument with co-workers or something like that? None. Zip. Nada. That’s what! Most of my day is spent dealing with conflicts. It’s normal, the way things oughta be,” he says, squeezing a stress ball at a feverish pace. “If somebody isn’t in here with steam comin’ out their ears once in a while at least, there’s something wrong, I tell ya’. Something ain’t right with her. She’s gives me the willies. One day she’s gonna pop, and then I gotta pick up all the pieces, you know what I’m sayin’? You writing this down? She’s a menace. Just you wait and see.”
HR Director, Henry Dunn, had this to say, “First of all, you should know we are not terminating her. She’s been a disruptive element in her department. We’ve seen an increase in stress and anxiety related problems with her co-workers and all of them point to her as central to their difficulties. Personally, I don’t believe she’s deliberately being unkind.” He stops to take of sip of triple espresso. Opens a can of Gimme My Giddyup®. “That’s why I’ve convinced the higher ups to send her to sensitivity training.” Asked was she really that insensitive, Dunn replies, “A clear cut case. Like that annoying smiley face pin she always wears. Can you believe it? Nobody who’s in touch with life would ever wear one. It’s like a slap in the face to anyone facing real problems. We need to address these oversights and correct them.”
We visited Amanda Funston at her home. Though it was early in the season, flowers somehow managed to bloom in her yard. Smiling copper suns adorned her doorway. Before we could introduce ourselves to explain our unannounced visit, she invited us in for herbal tea. She looks far younger than her 42 years. Not a stitch of gray in her mane of untamed, semi-curly hair. The whole crew quickly catches her infectious smile.
We asked if her lost wages would be a hardship. “Well, you know, this is a good reminder that I should watch how I spend my money,” she says, smiling. “I needed that. Anyway, the suspension just gives me time to reconnect. I plan to get more centered and see my favorite parks and catch up on some painting. This is time I needed and I’m thankful for it.” We asked if she was at all angry for being suspended for legally tenuous reasons. “Oh no! Not at all. There’s some great people there, and one day they’ll understand that. I really love my work.”
So there you have it. We left the house wondering if Ms. Funston’s “work” is the customers of the company, or the employees themselves. Ms. Funston puts the question to all of us. Is she out of touch with life, or is she the only one who truly sees it?