Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Today's schadenfreude moment

Schadenfreude is a German word meaning, "happiness in the misfortune of others." I'm certain a feeling of schadenfreude has settled in all over Wall Street this morning, given yesterday's news about the Governor of New York.

Today's question: What do the Governor of New York and an Iowa casino worker have in common? Apparently, love for paid companionship. From the Des Moines Register comes this story of a casino employee terminated for attempting to buy a prostitute on his employer's dime.

Neil Jorgensen, 62, of Kalona worked at the Riverside Casino and Gold Resort south of Iowa City until last November. He was fired after he was given a $100 Riverside gift certificate and a free night's stay at the casino hotel in recognition of a year's employment with the company. He used the gift certificate and free night's stay on the night of Nov. 28.

"I went to Ruthie's, the nice steakhouse within the casino, and I had a cosmopolitan or two and a bottle of wine and a really good dinner," Jorgensen testified at a recent state hearing dealing with his request for unemployment benefits.

He said he went to his hotel room about midnight and called hotel managers for help in figuring out how to order an adult movie. An hour later, he said, he called the managers again "and asked for a hooker." After the managers refused to help procure a prostitute for him, Jorgensen called someone at the adjacent resort and made the same request.

The casino's human resources director, Tim Donovan, testified that hotel workers were then sent to Jorgensen's room to insist that he stop calling for prostitutes.

"When the hotel supervisor knocked on the door, Mr. Jorgensen answered the door in the nude," Donovan testified. Jorgensen was fired the next day.

Undeterred by his termination, Jorgensen filed for unemployment. At his hearing, he offered 6 different defenses for his misconduct, ranging from pedestrian to hilarious:

  • "The advertisement is that it's just like Las Vegas, so I thought I was in Las Vegas."
  • The casino employs a dual standard because "gamblers have been allowed to continue gambling after they've urinated on the blackjack table standing in full public view."
  • That his actions had no detrimental effect on the casino.
  • That just prior to his termination, he had received an "excellent" performance review.
  • That the casino "overserved" him, which caused him to be "absolutely plowed."
  • Finally, Jorgensen claimed that his requests for a prostitute were part of "an off-the-wall surveillance" test.

I could draw some great moral lessons here, or tell you that an employee who tries to hire a hooker on the company's dime should be fired ASAP, no questions asked. The reality, though, is that this story just made me laugh, especially in light of what happened in New York yesterday.

[Hat tip: Manpower Employment Blawg]