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He Understood The Assignment, And He Shredded It

, , , , , | Working | September 23, 2023

I am a manager at a paper recycling plant. One of our positions is described as “paper shredder”. We receive boxes of papers that need to be fed through a shredder due to containing information that must be destroyed before the papers can be recycled. The shredder’s job starts at 9:00 am and ends at 5:00 pm, or when their load is done. Which days they work are not fixed; they only schedule their day off.

We hire a guy on a “supported employment” system; they help people with physical disabilities or mental deviations get hired by paying their wages for a “trial period” of so many hours and then meeting with the superiors to decide whether a hire is accepted properly.

[New Hire] is a friendly worker who happens to be on the autism spectrum, and he quickly proves himself a swift worker.

One day, we get the biggest load since [New Hire] joined, and I let him know as such. 

Me: “This one’s probably gonna take you the whole day and some of tomorrow.”

New Hire: “Bet you I can get through the whole thing before lunch.”

Me: *Laughs* “[New Hire], if you get through the whole thing before lunch, I will let you go home and mark you down for the whole day.”

Our workplace does not have a computerized clock-in at the time of this story.

New Hire: “You’re on. And if I can’t, then I’ll get everyone donuts while I grab lunch.”

Me: “Deal.”

We shake on it, and [New Hire] gets to work.

Two and a half hours later, [New Hire] asks if we have bandages; he’s done the workload, at the expense of several paper cuts. After directing him to the first aid kit, I check his work station. The bins are empty, the shredder is not damaged, the pile behind the shredder has been raked aside to avoid being caught back in the gears, and there’s a small pile of paper clips in the trash bin. Not only did he get it done, but he got it done without cutting corners.

I own up to my side of the deal, sending him off with the name of a store that sells gloves ideal for handling paper in (to avoid further paper-cut-riddled clockouts) and marking down on his time sheet for the max shift length.

Fast forward to the end of [New Hire]’s trial period. A representative from the supported employment company comes in with [New Hire]. She gives me a questionnaire to assess [New Hire]’s performance, mostly statements with agree/disagree ratings. [Representative] has me read them aloud to make sure I’m not misinterpreting anything, and we reach this item.

Questionnaire: “Worker completes their assigned tasks within the alotted time.”

[New Hire] and I traded looks and both started laughing while I marked the statement as “Strongly Agree”.

Unfortunately, while my company and I were eager to take on [New Hire] full-time, a certain health crisis reached Canada shortly thereafter, and [New Hire] was let go for safety reasons. Contacting him after things recovered to offer him his position back was, sadly, not an option. Wherever he is now, I hope he’s working just as swiftly as he did then, for an employer who’ll reward him for his effort and efficiency.

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