Man's Glass Ceiling: Getting out of Bed

Article excerpt

MILTON KENDRICK was a decent employee, maybe even a good one. In his last performance evaluation, which was conducted when he was already in trouble, he received passing grades - mostly "Sufficients" and "Proficients" with a couple of "Outstandings" - in 18 out of 19 categories.

The only category he failed was tardiness.

By his own admission, he was late to work a lot. He was never a lot late. He was always a little late. Three minutes, five minutes, eight minutes, four minutes, nine minutes.

His bosses at the St. Louis Housing Authority were very serious about tardiness. The work day starts at 8 in the morning, and we mean 8 in the morning, they said. For taxpayers, that's probably a good thing. For Kendrick, though, it was a bad thing.

He had trouble getting up.

He did not have trouble waking up. That would not have been so bad. A louder alarm clock could have solved that. His problem was worse. He'd wake up, but he wouldn't get out of bed. He'd just lay there. It was like he couldn't get up. Finally, he'd get up at the last possible minute and rush to work, but sometimes, he'd be a little late. He figures he was a little late about half the time.

His bosses noticed it last summer. They told Kendrick to get to work on time.

He went to see a counselor. He thought his problem might have something to do with stress. Although he thought he liked his job, maybe at some deep level, he didn't. Maybe that's why he couldn't get out of bed. He was a Section 8 caseworker. He dealt with Section 8 tenants and their landlords.

The counselor didn't think his problem was related to stress. You're simply tired, the counselor said. You're trying to do too much.

That made some sense. It's true that Kendrick was only 25, but he was awfully busy. In addition to his full-time job with the city, he was working nights at a department store in the Galleria. Plus, he was the choir director at his church. Furthermore, he had a girlfriend.

He dropped the choir. Didn't work. He still couldn't get out of bed in the morning.

He tried all the obvious things. He set the clocks in his apartment a few minutes ahead. Naturally, that didn't work. I mean, who's fooling whom? He knew the clocks were set ahead.

In October, he got the employee evaluation in which he flunked tardiness.

"Milton received a MI (Must Improve) even though there have been improvements," his supervisor wrote. …