J Is For “Jerk”

, , , , , | Working | February 24, 2021

I am clearly the bad guy in this story. My coworker struggles with the phonetic alphabet — A for “alpha,” etc. — and with her accent, it makes telephone communication difficult. So, she made and laminated a little helper sheet with all of the alphabet on it.

One boring afternoon, I photocopied the sheet and changed some of the words around — nothing too bad or offensive. Some are really subtle and others are just obvious — T for “tea” and G for “gnome.”

I kind of forget about it and eventually leave the company. Months later, I happen to speak to a guy I used to work with.

Guy: “Yeah, it’s not great. A load of people left and it’s not the same.”

Me: “Oh, really? I hadn’t heard. Like who?”

He rattles off a long list, including my coworker.

Me: “She left? Oh, I will have to reach out to her.”

Guy: “Yeah, do that. She is doing really well, but her replacement is really odd.”

Me: “Oh?”

Guy: “Just a real oddball all round — like when she spells things out, she uses weird words, P for ‘put-put.’ Who does that?”

It is then I remember that was an exact word I used on the copy.

Me: “Maybe she needs a guide to phonetics; you could print one off for her.”

Guy: “Good idea. I’ll do that.”

I never admitted the prank that lived on two generations, but I hope it got sorted in the end.

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