DEAR MIKE: I work with a man in his 50s who acts like a preteen. He’s constantly pulling practical jokes on people in the company and some of them are not very funny.
The problem is that he is very charming and the bosses all think he is a hot ticket, so he is allowed to get away with all these little stunts. He can be the life of a party but he does not know when a little humor is appropriate and when it is not.
Some of the stunts he has pulled over the years include sending a letter on Human Resources letterhead to an employee telling him he was being laid off. He also sent something to someone saying his paycheck was being garnished for back taxes.
Recently, however, he pulled a stunt that I think is the last straw. My best friend, Kathy, received an anonymous letter saying her husband was having an affair. As you can imagine Kathy took it seriously and was livid. She went home and confronted her husband, who of course denied it. They fought about it all weekend. When she came in on Monday and told me, I immediately thought the letter had been sent by Leo the practical joker.
That morning, Leo stopped at my desk and asked me how my friend Kathy was doing and if she had received any interesting mail of late. I asked him if he had sent the letter. He said he had, but claimed it was only a joke to get Kathy going. I told him I thought it was sick and he told me to lighten up and get a life.
I want to tell Kathy but I am afraid she will tell her husband who has a bad temper and will confront Leo and that things will get violent. I am very angry about this but I am not sure what to do. — Susan
DEAR SUSAN: You certainly are in a difficult position and I can understand your caution. It’s apparent Leo does not care and thinks he can get away with anything, including destroying people’s lives.
I would suggest that you bring you concerns to human resources and let them handle it. Let them know that you are going to tell Kathy. Tell them you are concerned her husband may take some hostile action and you don’t want to see that happen, especially in the workplace. They will then have an obligation to do something about the situation before it becomes a workplace violence issue.
It’s obvious that Leo has problems and needs help but he is also poisoning the workplace. People should not have to put up with that kind of behavior. Good luck. — Mike
Michael Hayden is a certified anger management counselor who runs Bay State Anger Management and Counseling in Chelmsford. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-606-3955.