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When Is a Policy a Policy?

When Is a Policy a Policy?

by Frank Roche on February 22, 2010

in Policies

The best thing that SEPTA ever did was create a quiet car on the suburban Philadelphia rail lines. During rush hour, the first car of a 3+ car train is designated as a quiet car. No talking. No cell phone conversations. Peace and quiet.

I’m a quiet car enforcer. I don’t hesitate to remind people that there’s a reason everyone is quiet except them.

Last Friday, a woman behind me answered her phone on the morning ride in. She started talking at full volume. I turned to look at her once, which meant “quit it.” She kept going. Louder. I turned around and looked at her square in the face.

“MY SON IS SICK!” she shouted at me.

I suggested that if he was sick and she needed to talk to him, perhaps she shouldn’t have gotten on the quiet car. She hissed at me. I’m not kidding. Hissed.

I laughed. Shook my head.

“Asshole,” she said as she got up in a huff and stomped off to a different car.

(I could go into another whole rant about people not taking responsibility and never being wrong, but I digress.)

Here’s the deal about policies: They’re not effective policies if there are exceptions. One exception — a sick kid — leads to another — a big business deal. And pretty soon, no more quiet car.

Here’s your HR lesson: Have policies that you really, really need. Then, really, really enforce them. Or get rid of them.

Myself, I vote for no insipid cell phone conversations on my commute.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

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