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It’ll Take A Whole Pallet-Load Of Managerial Spine To Sort This Out

, , , , , , , , | Working | December 28, 2022

To combat a sudden and unexpected enormous debt, I decided to take up a small second job at a newspaper printing press.

The job was incredibly flexible and straightforward. Someone in a forklift would drop off several large pallets of junk advertisements in a small warehouse owned by the printing press. The junk mail would be bundled in small stacks according to the postal codes. My job was to unwrap the pallets, get a dozen empty carts, sort out the bundles into the carts according to the postal codes, and then put the carts outside for the delivery people to pick up and deliver.

Pallets were dropped off at 3:00 am and they wanted them sorted and put out by 3:00 pm. I could come any time I wanted between then, and it took me about three hours on average to sort. It was perfect because, with my work schedule, I could drop in at 8:00 or 9:00 and be done by noon at the latest.

After four months, the printing press contacted me and asked me to transfer over to another warehouse. I obliged without question.

I arrived and, to my surprise, I discovered someone already working on the pallets.

Coworker: “Why are you so late?”

Me: “Huh? I don’t have a set schedule, and the deadline is 3:00 pm.”

Coworker: “I know that, but these drivers here are really picky. They want it out by 8:00 am! I’m just about wrapping up now. You need to be here by 5:00 am — 4:00 am if you can manage it.”

Me: *Pauses* “Four in the morning. I don’t even know my name at four in the morning, let alone work!”

Coworker: *Almost pleading* “Please?”

Me: *Reluctantly* “Okay, then.”

That following morning, I showed up at 4:00 am — much to the delight of my coworker — and quickly found myself overwhelmed by how meticulous these drivers were. Not only did we have to sort it out by postal code, but we further had to sort it out by street name and write those names down on cards and attach them to the carts. Beyond that, the bundles all had to be facing the same direction and stacked in picture-perfect rows. It took us nearly twice as long as when I would normally sort it simply according to postal code.

After a week, I received an email stating that my coworker had resigned and that I’d have to handle that warehouse myself for now. As I was doing my task, a manager strolled by, gave me a quizzical look, and asked, “What are you doing?” while pointing to the cards I was recording the information on. When I explained, the manager’s face darkened to a seriously pissed expression.

He grabbed the cards off of the completed carts, ripped them up, and then proceeded to furiously slam the contents of the carts into empty carts — with the street names out of order and the bundles facing any direction.

Manager: “I was wondering what was taking that girl so long to get it all done. That’s why I transferred you over here to help her! Those drivers don’t run the show here. We do! We said sort according to postal code. They can further sort it out however they want. We said to have it done by 3:00 pm. They can pick it up anytime before then, just as long as it’s not any later! Their delivery deadline is 3:00 pm on the next day. You can come in at 2:45 pm if you can sort it that fast. If they don’t like it, tell them to come see me!

And with that, he walked off, slamming the door behind him so hard that the windows shook. I felt a sense of relief.

The next morning, I deliberately showed up at 8:00 am and, as I expected, there were several angry delivery drivers standing in front of the building and yelling at each other.

Driver #1: *Inches from my face* “WHERE ARE MY CARTS?”

Me: “I’m starting right now.”

Driver #1: “No! I start my work now! Every day! 8:00 am… 8:00 am… 8:00 am… 8:00 am!”

Me: “You start when I’m finished sorting.”

Driver #2: “My area, [postal code] — start mine now! Go!

Me: “If that’s on top and on the first pallet, then yes, of course, I will.”

Driver #2: “How long will it take?”

Me: “The deadline is at 3:00 pm. You know that already.”

Driver #1: “When is everything done? What time?”

Me: “Sometime before 3:00 pm.”

Driver #1: “WHEN?”

Me: “When it’s finished.”

Repeat the last two lines above about ten times.

Then, the manager suddenly appeared from behind.

Manager: *At top volume* “WHEN HE’S FINISHED!”

This caused the drivers to get an uncomfortable look on their faces and quietly disperse.

Manager: “And if you keep throwing your cigarette butts and coffee cups in the parking lot, the wages we pay to have someone clean it up is gonna come out of your pay!”

They all drove away. As I was sorting, they would individually return and ask, “Are you finished with [postal code]?”, to which I would respond, “Finished carts are outside where we always put them. If yours is not there, it’s not finished.”

Later, someone returned and angrily rolled a cart at me.


As he stomped off, I simply returned the cart right back to the area with completed carts.

The following morning, I showed up and noticed the manager standing in front of the warehouse with his hands on his hips. Next to him were about half of the completed carts I’d done the day before.

Me: “Hey! What—”

Manager: “I’m handling this. Your pallets for today are inside. Start sorting. You did nothing wrong.”

As I passed by the completed carts, I noticed large signs had been taped to them: “NO!”, “SLOPPY! DO AGAIN!”, “WRONG! SORT BY STREET NAME!”, “SORT! YOU ARE VERY LAZY!”, etc.

The drivers appeared eventually to see what carts had been completed, and I heard the manager say to three of them:

Manager: “You were given a job to do, and you outright refused to do it. You are terminated as of today. Leave the property.”

They tried to protest, only for him to repeat:

Manager: “Leave the property!”

The other drivers quickly got the message and became MUCH more polite. Meanwhile, the manager was able to convince my coworker to return, and I was moved back to the previous warehouse I’d started at. She hasn’t had any problems since then.

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