"Iíve had it with you, Asshole!, shouted Paul purple with rage. "You come here, take the place I have earned and now stand there looking at me with that smug face, He ranted on. Iím not going to take it any more".
With that, Paul started across the classroom toward Victor.
Stunned by Paulís sudden physical threat, Victor said nothing. Instinctively he had slumped into a shallow fighting stance as he turned his body slightly aiming his right shoulder at the advancing Paul. He knew from experience that while violence was rarely a good answer, there were times that it seemed to be the only answer. This was clearly such a time for Paul. Victor prepared for what seemed to be an inevitable fight.
Paul, surprised by Victorís lack of movement or apparent emotion, stopped about two feet in front of him. He stood balancing on the balls of his feet his body as tense as a spring bent nearly to its breaking point. His right fist waved in the air in front of his face. The other was rigidly clenched and cocked at his hip. In this super heated emotional state he imagined his attack on Victor so vividly that in his mind he had already preformed it. He had felt his fists hitting and breaking bones in Victorís face. He had stood over the battered body and known the release of his unreasoning act of revenge. These imaginings had frozen him in place for a moment out of time. But it would only take a nudge, verbal or physical, to cause the real attack to take place.
"Iím sick of carrying you on my back at this place. I do the real work and you take the credit. I stay at the end of the day so you can go home early. You strut around here and I really run this place." In a voice shaking with anger Paul continued listing Victorís offences.
For his part, Victor continued to brace himself and waited for the attack he felt was going to happen at any second,. He felt the volatility of the moment hanging in the air. Saying nothing he looked Paul in the eye and waited.
It had been about three months since Victor had been hired to manage the Day Habilitation Program. He had not really wanted the job, starting something new three years before retirement was not exciting to him. But it was closer to his home and not being a residential program manager meant weekends and evenings off. So, for three years, why not? It was a marriage of convenience.
Day Hab. jobs were seen by other state workers as plum positions. Working only days and no weekends, as well, due to the fact that all of the programís clients were very low functioning and extremely physically impaired actual kept work challenges minimal. It was felt by others in the system that working in the DayHab was like being semi-retired.
But the Day Hab. Program also had the reputation of being filled with staff who were unhappy and complained about everything. All of them had been in state service for many years. For the direct service staff the Day Hab. was a comfortable dead end. There was no up from there - they would be here until they retired unless they left and became managers.
For the clinical staff - O.T.ís, P.T.ís, etc. - the jobs were cushy but mind numbingly boring. The clients would not get better no matter what they did and any challenge was quickly gone. They would have to leave this easy job and go out into the real world to find any gratification for their speciality.
What the staff had plenty of was time - time to be unhappy, plot against each other and management, take out their dissatisfaction on everyone they could reach. The only ones that received any kindness - often in the form of benign neglect - were the clients.
From his first day, Victor felt his authority challenged at every turn. The women - the majority of the staff were women - just barely followed his procedures and kept talking about how things had been better when his predecessor had been in charge. The men mostly just shuffled about their business and made little trouble to his face. That was with the notable exception of Paul.
Paul was not typical of the Dayhab staff. He had been excommunicated from the main campus of services and exiled to the Dayhab which was physically in the middle of nowhere. At one time he had been selected as the Direct Service Employee of the Year at the main campus - an exalted position indeed. But he had done the unforgivable - he had taken the honor seriously. He believed that the powers that be wanted and valued his opinion and he got himself in a major disagreement with a superior who was firmly entrenched with the ruling administration. The choice was to be ridden like a pony at the main campus or accept the position at the distant dayhab. He felt that it was better to rule at the dayhab than serve at the campus. He also felt that he could earn his way back to the campus and vindication by showing his skills at the dayhab.
Having managed other programs, Victor knew that time and effort with each of the staff - top to bottom - would be required to get the DayHab to run smoothly. Each person needed to know that they were valued members of the team and that only the team would make everything work as it should. Victor was tired and all the management experience in the world would be useless with out the energy to use it. But he was hired to do a job and he would do it the best way he could.
At first, the staff just went about their business as they had under the last manager and Victor let them. It was the proverbial honey moon period and expectations were low for everybody. Everybody watched everyone else and nothing changed very much. Victor knew that it was best to understand how things were before any attempts were made to improve anything. So he watched, visited all the classrooms and asked questions.
What Victor did not know but found out over a few weeks, was that Paul had been doing an ongoing assessment of Victorís performance as a manager with the other staff. Paul held secret meetings with any staff that would listen to critique every everything that Victor did or did not do.
In an attempt to win Paul over or at least reduce the negativity, Victor increased Paulís responsibilities to include some management of day to day program operations and a title - Clinical Supervisor. As he explained to Paul, he could not give him a raise but the title and increased authority would be compensation him. In this new capacity Paul could use his capabilities and get some of the recognition he wanted so much. The position was real but only at the Day Hab. Victor could not provide an increase in pay or make it formal outside of the Day Hab.
At first, this strategy seemed to work very well. Victor met with Paul and they made many of the decisions about the operations of the Day Hab. together. Paul rose to the challenges of the job and things seemed to smooth out some. But then the rest of the staff started to complain. They said that the power that had been given to Paul had gone to his head and that he was being dictatorial, even a little scary according to the women staff. They talked about funny looks and what seemed to be veiled threats ("If you donít do it the way I am telling you, I wonít be happy and you donít want that.")
During their weekly meetings Victor and Paul discussed the skills involved in supervision - now a part of Paulís responsibilities. Again things seemed to improve but the rest of the staff remained unhappy and the charges against Paul became more and more outrageous.
Paul saw any recognition on Victorís part of the concerns of the rest of the staff as a betrayal of him. His behind the scenes activity was reborn as he looked for allies in his campaign to rid himself of the troublesome Victor. On the surface he behaved as though he and Victor were totally inline in the management of the Day Hab.
Victor knew better but the situation seemed to be manageable. Knowing where he stood with Paul, Victor could keep things at the Day Hab on an even keel and that is what he aimed to do. He asked Paul would he like to come in one half hour later in the morning - arriving just as the clients did. Victor liked to come in before the rest of the staff so that he was fully organized before they arrived. In return, Victor asked Paul to stay for one half an hour after the client left and lock up. This would give both Victor and Paul time for paper work.
Paul liked the idea and Victor could tell that this arrangement made Paul feel more important and in control. This seemed a very helpful way to insure the smooth operation of the facility. But for some reason known only to Paul a few weeks after this change, Paul stood in front of Victor yelling his list of grievances and threatening physical violence.
Victor continued to listen to and watch Paul waiting for what ever to happen. He was tired and a small part of him hoped that the fight would happen - it would be a kind of resolution. But the more reasonable part of him knew that one or both of them was going to the hospital and one or both of them would end up in jail. None of that was attractive.
At that point, Paul screamed, "I not going to close up for you anymore!" and threw the keys to the Dayhab across the room.
Victor said in the calmest voice he could muster, "Fine. Donít do that. I thought you like our arrangement. But if you donít want that or any of the other things we have agreed to donít do them either."
Paul looked stunned and just stood there still shaking. "I didnít say I didnít want to be in charge of clinical services", he went on in a very quiet voice.
"Well", Victor said, ĎFrom the way you are acting, that is what I thought you were telling me."
"No", said Paul, ĎI was just angry"
"You canít behave this way and expect to be in a position of authority. I canít have it and will not put up with it. So I guess you better take your shot at me or calm down and we will talk about how to go forward.", Said Victor looking Paul in the eye.
Paul looked like a balloon with a slow leak. He seemed to shrink down to a normal size and attitude. He lower his hands and looked away from Victor.
Victor took a deep breath and fought to relax his body.
They both knew they had come right up to the edge and that now it was over. There would not be another confrontation between them and clear leadership had been determined.