Lately I’ve been working for a company that certifies those who serve, sell or handle alcohol.  The program is designed to help bar tenders, wait staff, and etc. to help others enjoy their alcohol responsibly by making them aware of legalities as well as some biology.  (E.g., one of the questions on the test postulates persons A, B, C and D all having the same amount to drink but having different weights and fitness levels.  The test-taker must indicate which of the four will have the highest BAC.)

The other day I took a call from someone who had done the program online.  She had failed.  She’d called to find out how much she’d failed by and to ask if this meant she had to purchase the program again.  She did.  We’re not monsters; everyone is entitled to one re-take test but she’d failed both.  She said she couldn’t afford to buy another one (the price is about $40 CDN).  She needed to be certified for her job.  This is a legitimate need — Ontario law stipulates that everyone who serves, sells or handles alcohol has to have this certification.

Hoping to encourage her, I told her that she’d missed passing by one mark.  We went over the test.  I told her what ones she’d gotten wrong and what she’d put down.  I didn’t tell her what the right answer was, just what it wasn’t.  Often, she knew the correct answer.  It was obvious she’d just second-guessed herself too much.  She asked me if I could change one of those answers and give her the passing mark she needed.

The whole time, she’d been sad and kinda desperate.  Never angry or abusive.  (Evidentially, one of my co-workers in the same situation got called the “C” word.)  My heart really went out to her.  She said she was 51, that she only made $6.50 an hour and that she was going to lose her job.

I couldn’t do it.  I didn’t even know if it was possible.  I was fairly certain that it would be against company rules anyway.  I told her that she should go to her company and ask them to pay for at least some of it.  She didn’t seem to think they would; she just kept asking me if there wasn’t anything I could do.

In the end she gave up.  She said “Well, Merry Christmas” and hung up.

Would the Christ-like thing have been to change that answer?  It might have cost me a job I needed at least as much as she needed hers; it might have been a betrayal of the one who got me the job.  Should I have let that stop me?  On the other hand, I can’t just go around bending the rules for every sad story I hear.

“Choose the right,” we’re told.  Where is the right here?

(And this just helps prove, in my opinion, that the way servers get paid is wrong, wrong, wrong. )