Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sometimes You Have to Fight Fire with Fire

Warning: Before you read this, please know I was embarrassed by my behaviour when this happened even though I wouldn't admit it. I am even more embarrassed about it now, but sometimes you get pushed so far that you respond in ways that you normally would not.

My husband, Bobby, was training in a greyhound kennel. I had been off work sick for about a year (my foot was run over by a truck) and I was ready to go back to work but I had not done so yet. Bobby had a helper in his kennel named Tony. Tony was a good guy but he was new in the dog business and he wasn't ready to run a kennel on his own yet. Bobby was taking a week off to go hunting. I was supposed to go into the kennel just to feed the dogs and Tony was supposed to do everything else. I was not getting paid and Tony was getting extra money for his extra work. I guess I should mention that Tony is black. Normally it wouldn't matter but for this story it does.

The first morning that I went into the kennel I got there at 8 o'clock to mix feed. Tony was supposed to have morning turnout finished and sprinting dogs. When I got there, Tony had not even started. This meant that dogs who were supposed to go outside at 6 in the morning and use the bathroom had not even been out yet. This is a major no no in the dog business. I proceeded to let the dogs out and Tony got there soon after that and we did turnout. He overslept he told me. I didn't make a big deal out of it because I was not his boss. He knew that it was a problem though and assured me that it wouldn't happen again.

The next day I went in at 8 again. Once again Tony was not there. I did the turnout and sprinted the dogs and was almost finished feeding when Tony decided to put in an appearance. He had a major attitude when I told him I would have to let Bobby know what was going on. I left after feeding with his assurance that he would do the rest of the day as he was supposed to do it.

The 3rd. morning I went in at 6, which was when Tony was supposed to be there. He was not. Once again I did turnout and sprinted and I was feeding when Tony got there. He had the nerve to berate me for starting without him even though he was 3 hours late for the 3rd. morning in a row. Helpers have been fired for much less in the business. I let him know that I wasn't going to argue with him in the kennel. Racing kennels are much like homes. You don't want tension in the kennel because the dogs feel it and they don't run as well. It is the same principal as when the parents are fighting at home the kids don't do as well in school.

For 2 solid hours I went about the kennel business that morning. The whole time Tony was riding my ass incessantly and I was begging him to just help get the work done and then we could discuss his problems with me outside the kennel. He didn't listen. He even went so far as to go get a pop out of the machine next door and kick the machine in. When he came back he told me he had to kick out the machine because he would have kicked in my head if he hadn't.

Then the owner of the kennel came in. I told him what had been going on. I told him that the only way I could come back in the kennel again was if Tony was no longer employed. The owner of the kennel told me he wouldn't fire Tony and if I didn't come in then he would fire Bobby. This was the hardest part for me. I quit my husband's job because I was afraid of what Tony was going to do to me.

Now to show you how employable I was I went to the commissary and I had a job 5 minutes later. Bobby also had offers to come to work as soon as he came back from his hunting trip. Now I had to go home and call Bobby and tell him I quit his job. This was one of the hardest phone calls I have ever had to make. I told him I had good news and bad news when I called him. I told him he could stay in West Virginia and hunt for another week which, of course, set off alarm bells. Then I told him that I quit his job. He was not thrilled by what I told him but he knew that if I had gone to such lengths that something major was wrong and he really wanted to hunt for another week anyway.

I thought everything was over. I was wrong.

That afternoon I was picking up dogs after the races for my new job. Tony was picking up dogs for his kennel. I guess Tony didn't realize that I would get another job so easily. This infuriated him. He cornered me behind the track. (this was the trail we used to walk the dogs after the races) He started to cuss and holler at me again.

The difference was that this time we weren't in a kennel. I could fight back. I let him have it with every verbal insult known to man and I can tell you that after 10 years in the dog business working with nothing but men there aren't too many phrases that I am not familiar with. He was screaming at me and I was screaming at him. We were basically toe to toe!

Then he called me a "po white trash ho," "a po white trash bitch," "and a po white trash cunt."

In my book there is just one phrase that is equivalent to that. I called him a nigger. I was fighting him on the same level he was fighting me at that point. Normally that is not a word that is even in my vocabulary but I did it.

Tony punched me in the face - right between the eyes. I went flying back about 3 feet. I managed to keep my footing and I came back at him and pushed him as hard as I could and we were basically going to fight. I can tell you the look of surprise in his eyes when I went back at him was triumph enough for me because he thought I would go down from his punch. He was afterall an ex professional wrestler. There was no way I could hurt him but I let him know that I wasn't going to take what he was dishing out either.

The fight stopped because another trainer came along and Tony didn't want anyone to see what he was doing to me. It was too late. Don had seen Tony punch me. I didn't report the fight (that was not my way) but Don did. Track officials were furious. They couldn't do anything to Tony because of what I had called him. They couldn't do anything to me because he had punched me in front of a witness.

No one had heard the verbal part of the arguement but I didn't lie about what I said, unlike Tony who tried to tell them that I was just a racist. We had been friends for months though so the track knew that wasn't true.

I kept my job. Bobby hunted another week and came back and got a better job. Tony started to take care of the kennel the day I left. 3 days later he had several weight scratches. New trainers who don't know what they are doing always get weight scratches after 3 days because that is how long it takes to screw up the dogs weights. That is why I was going in the kennel to feed in the first place. So there wouldn't be any weight scratches. Tony thought he was ready for a job that he wasn't and he was fired about 2 weeks later.

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