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I Love The Smell Of Ineptitude In The Morning

, , , , , | Working | June 3, 2018

The office where I work processes mail for several big corporations, by opening the envelopes and entering the data into the digital systems. Since these companies are quite big, there is, of course, the occasional angry ex-customer who tries to get back at the company by sending them nonsensical stuff — nude pictures, etc. — as if that would do anything to the company. However, in some cases, a joker goes much further by sending an envelope filled with powder, in order to create an anthrax hoax. Procedure is to put such an envelope down and warn everybody, after which no one who enters the room is supposed to leave.

One day, a coworker who works in a different room — and is known to be not very smart or hard-working — finds such an envelope. Instead of following procedure, he throws the thing into a garbage bin and takes the bin downstairs where he shows it to our manager in order to ask what to do with it. Afterwards, the coworker is berated by the senior emergency response officer (ERO) for not following procedure.

A few days later, I overhear the coworker talking with a few of his colleagues. As always, he is moaning and complaining about how he is treated. “Yes, there is a guideline, but you can’t expect me to read it every day.” The other coworkers seem to support him, with one of them even claiming she will go outside if it ever happens again — which you never should do. All of them speak demeaningly about the ERO, claiming he just wants to be important. I know the man as a very calm and friendly guy.

Several months go by. I am sent to the warehouse with one of my coworkers. The ERO is in charge of the task we are supposed to do, so he walks along to show us. On our way, we see the whiny coworker, who is working through the mail of another client of ours. He is doing this wearing gloves, which he always does; he’s the only person in the company who does this. The other coworker makes some small talk, asking what the guy is doing.

“With gloves on?” she asks.

His answer: “Yes, that’s necessary. You never know what’s in these letters.”

I couldn’t help but whisper to the ERO, “And if he finds something, he will walk through half the building with it.”

A few months later, I find an anthrax hoax myself in my department. We sere complimented on how well we handle it. At least the coworker’s blunder had some good use.

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