Always, Always, ALWAYS Get It In Writing

, , , | Working | December 9, 2020

I exclusively ride motorbikes; I have not got a car license. I work at a company that holds a yearly sales briefing that is mandatory for any team that is related to the sales process, even tangentially. I am in one of these peripheral teams.

On the morning of the meeting, which is held in the same town as the work and around forty minutes’ drive from home, I have to go pick up fuel before coming to work. When I get to the petrol station, I notice that the engine is getting far too hot. I look down and see that the bike is leaking coolant all over the road. I walk the bike to the side of the road and start letting it cool.

I call up HR and make them aware of the issue.

Me: “I have unused holiday time; please use it to cover my hours.”

I also fire emails off to my boss and HR and send my boss a text. I get on the phone and get talking to my normal garage who says they can pick me home up around 11:00; it’s now 7:30. I say that’s fine; I’ll get the bus to them, drop the keys off, and head home. As I’m about to leave my boss rings me.

Boss: “You must attend the meeting today, or else you will face the consequences.”

Me: “I can’t make it in because of the issues with my bike that I’ve already explained to HR. The only option I have is to ride the bike to the garage, which is very dangerous for the bike and for me.”

Boss: “Just be here.”

And he hangs up. I ring HR and they say they will talk to him. But around fifteen minutes later, they ring back.

HR Director: “I’m sorry, but no. You have to turn up for this meeting, no matter the cost or risk.”

Me: “I’ll need you to put that in writing. If I damage my bike in the process, will you be willing to cover my costs?”

They reluctantly agree. After the email agreeing to my terms comes through, I say:

Me: “Great! Yes, [HR Director], I will do my best to get there.”

It’s a six-mile ride to the bike shop, so I fire the bike up and head over there. The engine overheats to the point that it seizes completely. I drop it off. I ask the shop worker to fix any issue with the bike that could possibly come from my trip here, with a wink.

Worker: “Sure! I’ll be extra vigilant for any damage.”

And he sends me on my way. By this point, it’s 9:45. I’m boiling hot and sweaty as h***.

I realise that I can’t go home to change. I get the train from my city to the town I work in. While I’m on the train, someone carelessly knocks my bike helmet off the luggage and cracks it. I arrive at the briefing venue just in time for the 12:00 start of the sales briefing.

I get to the venue in full bike gear, boots, trousers, and jacket, carrying my gloves, broken helmet, backpack. I stink of sweat, and I am peeved off and annoyed.

The HR director walks up.

HR Director: “What the h*** are you playing at? Why are you not in a business suit?

This is in the lobby of a hotel with all the other staff milling around, so I say with a loud, angry voice:

Me: “Gee, I don’t know! Maybe my bike broke down and needs serious repairs! Maybe I’ve had some b*****d smash my helmet! Maybe I had a knobhead of a manager tell me I had to turn up to a meeting to watch of the sales team walk all over each other and the other teams and congratulate themselves! Maybe it’s because I’m going to sit there and do nothing, and I could have been fixing my bloody bike!”

I storm off to the meeting room, strip out of my bike gear, and sit down in civvies throughout the entire meeting, daydreaming of going home. As soon as it finishes, I get up and leave, literally walking past everyone and ignoring the lot of them.

I end up calling in sick the rest of the week as I’ve caught a fever and can’t be a***d to come in. My doctor says my stress isn’t helping.

During that week, the bike shop calls me.

Worker: “The bike will cost around £3,000 to fix, including new engine, gearbox, chain, and sprockets, both tyres, and a new rear wheel.”

Me: “Can you send me an itemised bill? My workplace is going to compensate me.”

The shop dutifully does so, and I forward the bill to HR, along with my receipt for new bike gear as pretty much all of mine was ruined — helmet £200, jacket £100, trousers £100, boots £200, and gloves £100.

I receive a curt email back.

HR Representative: “Why are you telling us? These are your bills.”

I attach the email from the HR director saying they would cover all costs incurred if my bike or I were damaged or hurt post breakdown getting it to the shop.

Me: “Since none of the damage would have occurred if I could have let them pick up the bike, and if you had let me have the day off, it’s all on you. If you refuse to pay, as was agreed to, I will go to a solicitor and get them to look into it.”

During a two-hour marathon meeting, my manager argues that I knew the meeting was on and should have had alternate arrangements in place.

Me: “So you told me to walk or ride a bike you knew to be dangerous down a busy main road? Are you serious? Are you even aware of how dangerous that is?”

HR told me to go home as things were stressed. I did. The next day, we all had a meeting where they basically caved. The HR representative revealed that they had asked the company solicitor after I left. The solicitor basically told HR that they’d agreed to pay the costs and damage, so if they backed out, they would have a hard time defending it if I went to my own solicitor; they knew about the damage to the bike before they told me to ride it and they knew what could have happened.

Moral of the story: be careful what you order your staff to do.

Source: Reddit (Credit: gaarmstrong318, Original Story)

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