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Fear Is The Mood-Killer

, , , | Working | May 6, 2021

My wife works in a mall. I have a job in the oil and gas sector. It is one of those rare Saturdays when the wife is home and the kid is in school and we are, shall we say, making the most of it, when my phone rings. I did not switch it off because you never know whether a child of primary school age may pick this particular day to be sick or have a nosebleed or break an arm during recess.

I check the incoming call and recognize the number: it’s from my company’s project manager. I feel a knot starting to form in my belly; a few years ago, we had a severe accident occur with a team that was working during the weekend. I knock on wood and hope it will turn to be only a minor annoyance.

Me: “Hello.”

Project Manager: *Sounding frantic* “[My Name]? S*** just got real here. You gotta help me!”

I freeze, literally. Sweat chills on the skin of my back; my lips go numb. Our job is dangerous, the site is dangerous, and I expect him to tell me that someone on the team was injured or worse.

Me: “What happened? Is everyone all right?”

Project Manager: “Yeah, well… let me explain.”

Me: “Answer me first. Is anyone hurt?”

Project Manager: “No. We were written up by the customer’s health and safety inspector because he found that a bit of our warning tape had snapped and was tied back but it fell off, and I need you to send out a reply to their findings.”

Two things happened. First, I deflated. I let out a long breath and didn’t feel like drawing another one soon. The sensation of relief that I was feeling was like the hit from an illicit substance. But then, right on top of it, came the rage. How dare this moron disturb me on my off day, ruining my chance of finally getting a leg up, and actually giving me a scare because he can’t handle such a laughable matter himself?! I called him a lot of names and told him that if I received the HSE inspector report, it would be considered with the attention it deserved… on Monday morning. Not a minute earlier.

It turned out that the project manager did not need to panic; we never received any complaint from the customer about warning tape. The mood, however, had been killed and did not return on that day.

Question of the Week

What is the absolute most stupid thing you’ve heard a customer say?

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