Friday, August 03, 2012

Risks of violence on the job

Well, last night was certainly a first.

And not in a good way either. More of a cringingly predictable farce with overtones, and threats, of alcohol-fueled violence.

Here's what went down.

At about 2000hrs I received a call from an agitated individual who I had given my card to at a chance meeting at a cafe several months ago. While he didn't need my services back then, things had recently changed.

A few days ago he fired a group of subcontractors who had been thieving from worksites and also falsifying their hours. Allegedly. The contract with them clearly states that payment for hours is processed a week after they are provided yet the leader of this group demanded to be paid in full immediately.

My client refused, not because he was going to withhold pay but because they are going to audit the provided worksheets and make payment on the due day.

Fair enough, I thought.

But not fair in the mind of Michael Pearl (not his real name), the ringleader of this small group of renegade contractors. Instead of waiting the week out, he immediately resorted to texting threats of violence from his mobile phone to my client.

Clearly a criminal mastermind in action.

The client was concerned because the threats were escalating; initially they were just demands for payment, now they were hinting at gang involvement and otherwise the usual intimidatory "I know where you live and am coming over" sorts. Except that to prove he did, in fact, know where they lived, Pearl also texted their address.

It had the desired effect. My client was concerned for his, and his family's, safety. He had already notified the police who advised him to issue a Trespass Notice at first instance.

And that is where I came in. 

To save time and effect service the same evening, I met my client at my favourite deserted carpark. He handed me the Trespass Notice and details of Pearl who, it turned out, resides with the other subcontractors. I was advised that Pearl was likely to be drinking with his cohorts and would, in all probability, not respond well to being served. Particularly if drunk.

No problem, I'll bring backup I said. (Backup is in the form of Pedro, not a 9mm Glock. Sadly.)

So I picked up Pedro and we attended the address of Messieurs Pearl and Entourage.

Now in the past 7 years of doing this job, despite having been warned about some douchenozzle or other's violent propensities, I had yet to face said douchenozzle's wrath directed personally at me. Normally they comprehend that I am not a party to whatever proceedings, just a workin' joe doing his job.

That's not to say that I don't take such threats seriously or haven't had to deal with violent individuals in the past.

Well, be that as it may, last night was a reminder that you can never underestimate the stupidity of others.

We arrived at the address at 2054hrs, the windows were all open and loud music was heard emanating from the house. We could see a number of males inside, all drinking, and singing along (badly).

Pearl answered the door and, as expected, was intoxicated. He acknowledged his identity and when handed the Trespass Notice just stared at it blankly. He asked what it was, so I told him. At that point he threw it onto the ground and became belligerent, shouting that he hadn't been given anything. I shrugged and told him that he was legally served. Pedro and I made to leave when Pearl was joined by one of his associates whose immediate contribution was "So do you want to have a go?"

Pedro and I left the property (we had to back away since Pearl and co were right behind us, trying to provoke us into a fight). They actually suggested we go down to the park with them to "settle it like men".

I probably should have kept my mouth shut but my response was "I don't give a shit either way but if you really want to fight, stop talking about it and throw the first punch."

At this stage we were back on the street and near my vehicle. Pearl picked up some rocks, seemingly intent on throwing them through my windows. He also pushed Pedro, at which point I thought it was going to be all on, but Pedro stepped back.

Another one of Pearl's associates had now come out, having made himself ready for action by taking off his shirt.

I thought enough was enough, pulled out my phone and told the first hanger-on that he had the option of taking Pearl back inside or I'd just call the police to sort things out. That seemed to work, he grabbed Pearl and dragged him back to the driveway. Pearl, however, was just not quite ready to let things go and continued to shout obscenities and avow his desire to fight us on the street.

Pearl's friend was trying to quieten him down and I'm positive I heard him say something to the effect that they didn't want to have the police come around given that Pearl was on bail.


Anyway, we departed - and I have to admit I gave them a cheeky toot on the horn and a cheery wave as we drove away - and I then informed the client as to the evening's festivities.  

This morning I received word that the client received further texted threats after our visit, including that of being stabbed, from Pearl's phone. Oh, and that Pearl requested that the client send us back so that we could have that street fight.

Maybe he thought it might have down like this...?

Anyway, I'm sure this is not the end of the matter. The client has hinted at more work - perhaps in relation to the alleged thefts that had occurred. However, I still feel that the situation could have been handled better and if there is going to be any further contact with Pearl, I will have the police accompany me to keep the peace now that I am aware of his violent disposition.

What would you have done?

And what measures do you take for personal protection on the job?

1 comment:

  1. I am sure Pearl's bail officer would be interested in the various texts he's been sending. That would put him back in line fairly quickly I'd imagine.