In today’s sign that we live in a culture often more obsessed with following rules than with common sense, Verizon has decided to suspend a line worker after he improperly saved a cat.
The story of Maurice German and Momma the cat was originally a feel-good piece that filled out a few minutes on the local news.
According to KYW-TV, the cat was stuck atop a pole for 12 hours in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia on March 15 and 16.
Momma’s owner called the fire department, the telephone company and animal rescue to get the cat saved, all with no luck. That’s when German, a line worker for Verizon, came into the picture.
“The calls went unanswered until Sandy McLeish, an animal activist, found German in the neighborhood Saturday,” KYW reported. “German agreed to help rescue Momma, and this story has a happy ending.”
The first few paragraphs of KYW’s story couldn’t have been any more favorable to the telecom giant had they been written by an ad agency: “This is a story about a community in Port Richmond coming together to save a cat stranded on top of a telephone pole. It’s a reminder that not all heroes wear capes or own badges. Some simply work for Verizon.”
“The hero in this story isn’t a firefighter or animal rescue. Instead, it was Maurice German, a Verizon employee who was in the neighborhood Saturday.”
So, of course, instead of basking in the free advertising, Verizon decided to suspend German three weeks for using his truck in the rescue.
“We take no joy in this job action,” Verizon spokesman Rich Young told KYW.
“However, we’re committed and responsible for keeping our employees and customers safe while working in a particular area.”
“Unfortunately, while this employee’s goal was admirable, he potentially put his life and those around him in jeopardy,” Young added.
“While our actions may not be popular, it’s in the best interest of our employees and the communities we serve.”
First off, if what German did “put his life and those around him in jeopardy,” then he’s essentially doing the same thing every time he goes out to work.
What Verizon is tacitly admitting is that they don’t trust their own employees to know the limits of the equipment that they use every day.
Nothing in this rescue seems particularly dangerous, and German seems in control at all times. If it’s something the layman can’t understand, Verizon hasn’t bothered to demonstrate what he did that was so dangerous.
Whose lives were in danger here — aside from that of Momma the cat, were she not rescued?
And this hypothetical danger is beside the point, since nothing actually happened. If they’re really so peeved that one of their employees broke the rules to rescue a cat, why not take him aside quietly, give him a stern talking-to and leave it at that?
Oh, but don’t worry, Verizon still cares about animals: “Young said Verizon is making a donation to the Pennsylvania SPCA in Fishtown to show its support for animal rescue efforts,” KYW reported.
Of course, they wouldn’t have done this if German hadn’t saved a cat’s life, so what you can safely deduce is that the ideal outcome for Verizon would be a dead cat and no donation to the Pennsylvania SPCA. It just keeps getting better, right?
According to the U.K. Daily Mail, two GoFundMe accounts have been set up to pay German whatever money he’ll lose as a result of his suspension. One has surpassed its goal in less than two days, a sign that the public at large has more sense than Verizon.
As for the telecom giant, congratulations on throwing away free advertising.
The public relations backlash couldn’t happen to a better bunch of rule-obsessed, tone-deaf corporate bureaucrats.
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