Cutting Workplace Tension With A Knife

| Working | February 4, 2016

(I have been working at a large chain grocery store for about three months when this happens. The store has a large turnover rate, and as such, my manager has been grooming me to be her assistant for the last two months. One guy in my department has been working here much longer than me, and he’s a little strange and doesn’t get along with most people. He’s decided he likes me, though, and much to my discomfort, that includes complaining to me about how the manager favors me over him for the promotion. This occurs when our manager is on vacation for a week, and I’ve taken over some of her managing duties.)

Me: *checking the shelves for holes*

(Coworker is stocking the shelves from the truck that came in that day. He walks over to stand next to me and pulls out his box-cutter to open a box, but just stands there and sighs. Then he looks up at me, smiles, and reaches out like he’s going to cut my arm, but misses my arm by about an inch*

Me: *in disbelief he actually did that* “What was that for?”

Coworker: “Oh, y’know.” *opens the box and resumes his work*

(I get the h*** off that aisle, pretending to be calm, and go find an assistant store manager that I’m comfortable with and explain the story to her.)

Assistant Store Manager: “Okay, you did the right thing. I’ll handle it. Just keep working and try to stay away from him as much as possible, okay?”

(I resume work, and later get approached by the store manager, who asks me to explain what happened again, and tells me that she’ll talk to my manager about it. Later that week, my manager gets back from vacation, and I run into her on the floor.)

Manager: “I heard what happened with you and [Coworker]. You know that’s a fireable offense, right?”

Me: “I hope so! Coming at someone with a sharp blade is not a joke.”

Manager: “All right, I’ll handle it.”

(I don’t hear anything about it for a couple of weeks, but also don’t see Coworker around in my department. I finally see him one day, working in the health foods department, and ask my manager what happened.)

Manager: “We transferred him over there.”

Me: “…I thought it was a fireable offense, though?”

Manager: “That’s what [Store Manager] decided to do. There was an opening, no one else works in that department because it’s so small, and he’s worked here a long time and knows what to do. But since no one else works in that department, he also has to do all the manager work, and he really doesn’t know how.” *rolls her eyes* “No one else likes working with him, though, so it’s the best spot in the store for him.”

(A month or so later, the same Assistant Store Manager I reported him to asks me to work in his department.)

Me: “I’m not comfortable working with that guy.”

Assistant Store Manager: “I know, you wouldn’t be. You’d just be working his days off. He’s really screwing up the place. There’s yogurt up to the ceiling in the back cooler, a bunch of it is about to expire, and he doesn’t know how to order. It’s a mess.”

Me: “…I’ll tell you what. If you make me the manager of that department, I’ll fix it for you.”

Assistant Store Manager: “Oh. Well. We can’t really just do that all of a sudden.”

Me: “I know. It’s fine. I’ll work his days off until then.”

Assistant Store Manager: *approaches me the next day* “Okay, we decided to give you the department.”

Me: “Whoa, so soon? You said it would take a while.”

Assistant Store Manager: “It’s really a mess. We just want it fixed as soon as possible.”

Me: “Well, okay.”

(I only had one day working in that department previously, and it’s a small one with a lot of different products, so it takes a while to find specific places for things. So, all at once, I have to learn where everything goes, where everything in the back room is, procedures for working with coolers and freezers — which I’ve never worked with before, since I came from the Drug GM department — and all the ordering and back-stock procedures of a manager. Plus, I have to listen to the store manager rant at us for not getting enough done pretty much every shift I have. Finally, after a month, I’m called into the store manager’s office.)

Store Manager: “We’re giving the department back to [Coworker].”

Me: “…Excuse me?”

Store Manager: “Yeah, you’re just not filling the holes in the shelves, and you’re not getting the truck out. It’s just not working out. Plus, with how quickly we promoted you, he could have a case with HR over how the department was taken from him.”

Me: “Only one of those things actually makes sense to remove me. You gave me a department where I knew where nothing was and had to learn everything from scratch. And besides, he threatened me. I don’t know why he got promoted to manager instead of fired!”

Store Manager: “Oh, yeah, why didn’t you do anything about that?”

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