Posted by: penpatience | March 1, 2019


WRITERS WORDS: “For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate” – Margaret Heffernan





It wasn’t too long ago I enjoyed a business career that encompassed many large and small corporations (check out my “About Me” page, if you haven’t already). I cried a few tears when I retired from the various job jars that held many different responsibilities over the years. However, over time I realized I enjoyed the people side of the business versus the operational- administrative areas and before retirement my career focused on the Human Resources within the organizations. Most companies today have Human Resource Departments that include every aspect of the firm’s major resource—its people.

Going forward, I didn’t realize writing Employee Manuals, Company Policies and Procedures, Orientation and Safety programs along with other business applications would also assist in my future passion—writing both fiction and non-fiction stories and articles. Although I considered the writings of manuals and policies dry and sometimes boring, there was no room for error. Everything I wrote had to be factually accurate, checked for legality, typographical errors and, of course, grammar. It was a tiresome BEAR editing, checking and rechecking the various documents. However, today I appreciate the time spent on these monotonous tasks. The repetitive writings assisted me in developing the necessary discipline when I embarked on new writing endeavors.

Employee relations- interactions with employees of many nationalities, personalities, frailties, human emotions, addictions, characteristics and abilities not only was a learning experience, but exposed me to workplace stress, some good laughs and a treasure trove of human characteristics that I continue to draw upon in my works-in-progress. People, our most valuable organizational asset run a wide gamut of visible emotions, too many to list here.

A sample from my Past Treasure Trove:

A female employee in the Accounting Dept. accused a newly promoted Accounting Manager of harassment—a serious accusation thoroughly investigated. I can still recall this young woman sobbing and carrying on in my office to the point you’d think she was at death’s door. However, what initially bothered me was I’d witnessed the two laughing together often and on many occasions eating lunch together. The short story is: She lied. Deleted, incriminating e-mails between her and the colleague were recovered by one of our high tech Managers. Steamy e-mails aside, this particular employee was often late for work and now her casual love-interest became her new Manager. When confronted with the recovered evidence, despite the shock of being caught in a false accusation, she smiled and mentioned she was uncomfortable around this particular supervisor and hoped to be moved elsewhere. Yes, she was fired. This character memory can easily find its way into a future writing project.

Another Example: .Two female nursing assistants were hired for the overnight shift at a large senior complex. One morning, sans my morning coffee, a visibly angry 3rd shift employee awaited me at my office door with her Manager. I kept them waiting while I ran and got my fortification coffee. I could see the contained rage in her scowling face as she spewed out, “I don’t work with queers.”  It appeared that the new hires soon became involved in a same-sex relationship and, in the outraged employee’s words, “causing havoc” on the night shift. I pulled her file and showed her the signed Equal Opportunity Employer statement she and all employees sign during orientation. I reiterated our organization’s policy on equal opportunity and the company included sex orientation in its statements. She had a choice. She could continue to do her best work on the job, or resign. The employee didn’t quit, but feedback from her Manager indicated she sulked for a week during breaks in the employee lounge.

I muse, the unique and distinctive traits of humanity abound. I knew an individual that used disinfectant wipes on most everything he touched. I note the petty Coffee Packet Thief—an employee who pilfered company coffee and tea packets and to this day was not caught. I include myself with the many writers who have become avid people watchers who discreetly notice visible behaviors and actions of others. If we need a “special quirk” in a project, we do not have to look too far for inspirationJ Listed are a few of my favorite people watching locations:

Airports, Super Markets, Beaches, Park Benches, Drivers-Traffic, sports events…..

Yes, there is a beneficial alliance between writing and the human condition.

Dear Readers & Writers: Happy Watching and Writing!


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