Could you klap a colleague?

Would doing bodily harm to clients or colleagues relieve your frustration? Susan Erasmus thinks that by this time of the year it might just.

A Japanese hospital worker has been jailed for tearing off the toenails of elderly patients to relieve her own frustration.

I know it was not a kind thing to do, especially to elderly and helpless patients (or anyone for that matter) and the worker concerned seems to have been given about one month in prison for every one of the 49 nails she tore off. The prison sentence is well deserved.

But it got me wondering how inflicting pain on others could relieve one's own frustrations –especially at this tense and neurotic time of the year. It seems to work for so many people, even though I do experience a certain knee-jerk aversion at the thought of pinning down some of my colleagues and ripping out a handful of hair or twisting a finger to breaking point.

Or testing the sharpness of the scissors on someone's inner arm, or tripping someone up as they slink past my desk.A colleague has just mentioned a non-consensual leg wax.Enough, enough.

The fact that there are a few faces flashing in front of me in the last couple of seconds has made me realise that doing something like this may not be such an unattractive idea after all. In fact, I do think I could savour that ripping sound for more than a few seconds.

Maybe this is why large corporations have switched to open offices in the last few decades. You can treat your staff crappily, and still go home with all your toenails intact and your full head of hair. There is nowhere to corner anyone. And physical abuse is so easy to prove – it leaves marks.

Emotional abuse is quite another thing though. How do you prove your boss is responsible for your nervous tic and your new addiction to tranquillisers?

But back to the hospital worker. The paragraph that got to me was the following:

The 38-year-old woman was arrested for her second crime in August, a few weeks after she began working at Mouri Hospital in Kyoto. The head of the hospital said she did not reveal her criminal record in her résumé and had lied about her career.

Now this is wrong on so many levels.

Firstly, if hospital work stressed her out to the extent where she ripped out patients' toenails, it is odd that she didn't opt for a different kind of job, such as admin work at the local municipality or gardening or online telemarketing.

Secondly, imagine adding the following to your CV under hobbies: ripping out toenails of elderly patients. And under Criminal Record: see attached charge sheet.

Now that would have a certain career-limiting air about it, don't you think?

And a last thing: how do you rip off anyone's toenails without them making a huge noise that attracts attention for kilometres around? If anyone has come up with the solution to that little problem, give me a call. I think there are a few fingers in my vicinity that need twisting.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, December 2011)


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
29% - 9740 votes
71% - 23831 votes