Personal Responsibility

me 1   Anyone who has followed my writing, or has heard my many calls to local radio, knows I put a high value on personal responsibility.   This does not, of course, simply apply to my political views and government, but to my actual personal actions.

Many also know I have been employed by the same company for 35 years. Well I should say, I was employed by the same company for 35 years.

In those thirty-five years I had done whatever was asked of me as an employee. I had taken on responsibility for jobs I had no title for, simply because I was the most experienced, and or best suited to accomplish the job, in order to benefit the company, myself, and the customers.

I strived to obey both the laws governing our industry, and to follow company policies. I attempted to be both a leader and example on the job for less experienced employees. During our safety meeting I would say, “safety comes down to individual decisions, made by individuals”. I will return to this in a bit.

When I was hired, I was hired by one man making a decision to take a chance on a 20 year-old with zero experience, I owe this man a debt I will never be able to repay. If I had a question I asked him, he gave me an answer, and if I followed his directions, I was good. Unfortunately he chose to sell the company to the third largest company in the nation within the industry. With that came some benefits of a corporate atmosphere, but I lost that personal, intimate feeling of having just one boss.

Fast forward a few years and that corporation sold out to the number one corporation in the industry. I often joked that I had been with the company so long, I was just furniture, sell me and put me where you will.

As the size of the corporation grows, the distance between those who make decisions, and those whom the decisions affect, grows exponentially .  I could easily draw the comparison between large national corporations and centralized government, but I will save that for another time.

So, back to the real point of this post. This past Tuesday evening at the end of a long day, I was heading back to the yard. I normally work in the service department now, but due to a need, I had gotten back on the delivery truck. As I was heading back I had an accident. I ran into the back of a mini-van. I thank God no one was injured in any way. The damage to the van was minimal, and I was not even cited by the police, who I was required to call, because the damage was so small. I also followed all company policies of how to document any accident. I took photos, I exchanged information, I called my immediate supervisor, I called the district manager, I called the area safety advisor. I later spoke with another supervisor. So, as you can see, this is much different from simply calling the boss.

I was told that night  I was on paid suspension pending the company investigation. Now considering the truck was equipped with a dash camera, and it was clearly my fault, which I had admitted to every person I had spoken to, I am not sure what took two days to come to a conclusion, but it was not until late Thursday that I was informed  I was to be terminated.

In the end, the decision was made by people I either had met only once, and another who I had never met, they had not worked with me on a daily basis to know what kind of employee I was. The decision was based solely on the camera footage, and honestly, they got it right according to company policy. The thing is, with corporations, they have a one size fits all policy of A,B,C and there is no D.

I have since called several of the people up the chain of command who I have worked with for many years, people who I knew might be feeling badly for my loss. I called to tell them, that everything which had  happened, happened because of my individual decision, I was the only person to blame for my losing, my job, and  I held no hard feeling towards them.

Do I wish I was still working directly for the guy who owns the company, who might have evaluated the situation differently? Of course I do. I am now starting a new chapter in my life. And yes it is scary. But, I believe God  puts things in our path for a reason. I have to look forward, I have a new job beginning Monday, and the other job is now just 35 years of my past.

I made a bad decision, and I have paid a price for it. My family spent three trying days. I am blessed to have found another job so quickly, and I give all thanks to God. I believe as I said, all things for a reason. Of course I did receive a lot of support from my friends in the way of giving me names of people to contact and in encouraging me not to give up. Thanks to all of you, you know who you are. And I will never be able to apologize to my family enough for putting them through this.

I know there are some who follow me here, who will take a perverse pleasure in my troubles. But actually, I give thanks for you as well, because opposition also strengthens you as much as success.

I am sharing this for a couple of reasons. One is for the cathartic benefit of getting this off of my chest. Secondly, I hope others may learn from my mistake, not the one that caused the accident, but the mistake of making a bad decision, which I knew was a bad decision. I know  I am to blame for my own troubles, but I believe I learn from my mistakes, and I have a fairly good record of not repeating the same mistake.

I was blessed to have the same job for so many years, but every road has a fork or two, this is simply a new road, but with the help of my family, my friends and especially God, I have faith  I can turn what could have been the end, into a beginning.




12 Comments on "Personal Responsibility"

  1. Jim Weller says:

    Very well said Frank. I admire your willingness to accept responsibility for your actions. Its a rare thing nowadays for people to say it was my fault and hold me responsible. You will be fine thru all this and new opportunities await you. God never allows more to come our way then we can handle and with Gods help and strength we will be victorious over all challenges. Remember the future is always brighter than the past. That’s why our windshield is so much bigger than our rear view mirror. I appreciate your friendship and trust if you give God the glory he will supply all your needs. Take care and God bless you and your family.

  2. waterpirate says:

    No worries Frank!
    It has been my experience that when you think of yourself as furniture you have overstayed your welcome anyway. When one door closes another choice always presents itself. I thought I would retire from my last gig, but when that door shut I found a better gig behind another door. Chin up, talent and experience wins every long race.

  3. Bob Hartman says:

    Best wishes Frank. I hope that you have considered seeking the opinion of a lawyer.

  4. Frank Knotts says:

    Thanks all. And no Bob I haven’t. Trust me when I say it was my fault, and the company policy was clear. Plus the corporation has a whole floor of a building of nothing but lawyers. Like most corporations their first concern is to protect the corporation. I am putting this behind me and moving on.

  5. fightingbluehen says:

    Zero tolerance for an accident in a delivery job that requires driving seems pretty harsh, but I guess when the product is propane they can’t take any chances or something ?

  6. Frank Knotts says:

    FBH, you are correct. And all of this is made clear in policy and training. That is why I take full responsibility for my termination. I got stupid for a split second. All I can do is learn and move on. It will make me a better driver, employee and maybe even a better person.

  7. Bob Mitchell says:

    Onward and upward, Frank. Life is a winding road and we are rarely able to see what’s around the next turn until we get to it. Here’s hoping that the best is right around this corner.

  8. Rick says:

    Firing someone who has been with the company for thirty-five years over a minor accident is ridiculous. Cookie-cutter policies don’t work.

    Anyone who uses propane from that company should cancel their service and switch to another provider.

  9. Jared Morris says:

    Sounds strange. Zero Tolerance policy or not. I’m not saying someone was out to get you, but, I guess it doesn’t matter since you are moving on and rightly so. Taking it like a man, as it were. When God closes a door, etc and all of that. I wish you the best, friend. Good luck!.

  10. Dave says:

    This is one of those Solomon Judgment situations. On one hand you have a performance history with a single negative event. On the other hand you have a business whose success or failure is inextricably tied to safety and their reputation. Apparently they have a zero tolerance type of policy.
    I suppose many people and business encounter similar situations where the choices you have leave a bad taste regardless of the choice. Sometimes we face real binary choices like this one, which is why we should never be so eager to create binary situations when we have the opportunity balance competing objectives.

    Wish you well Frank. Hope the new situation works out well for you.

  11. Rick says:

    This is one of those Solomon Judgment situations. On one hand you have a performance history with a single negative event. On the other hand you have a business whose success or failure is inextricably tied to safety and their reputation.

    So there is only one course of action- cut Frank in half.

  12. Frank Knotts says:

    FBH, that is why , while I wish it were otherwise, I hold no real ill will. Hense the title. And Rick, how many times would you have loved to have cut me in half? LOL

Got something to say? Go for it!