Shouldn’t “Leave” This To Chance

, , , , , | Working | August 28, 2019

(I work the overnight shift at a grocery store as a custodian, as well as occasionally assisting in stocking the shelves, usually the dog food aisle. I have a coworker who has been consistently dumb for the better part of five months, but our manager has been reluctant to let him go, as we’re short-handed and an extra body — in spite of him being relatively inept — is still an extra body. One Monday night, which is a non-delivery night where we condition the shelves and put up in-store back stock, about four hours into the shift, I’m mopping a spill on the floor and the coworker walks by with his jacket and bag. Our manager is off tonight, and we have another coworker who is the de facto supervisor in our manager’s stead. There are a couple of other coworkers, but they are working elsewhere in the store when the following occurs.)

Me: “You heading out?”

Inept Coworker: “Yeah, I’m about to pass out. I have to get going.”

(I assume, perhaps naïvely, that [Inept Coworker] has informed [Supervisor] that he is leaving, so I say goodbye and get back to my own duties. About five minutes later, I decide to take my break, go outside to get a drink from the machine, and watch as [Inept Coworker] gets picked up. Once I get my drink, I head back inside and lock the front door behind me, thinking nothing of it. Twenty minutes later…)

Supervisor: “Hey, [My Name], have you seen [Inept Coworker]?”

Me: “Yeah, he left about twenty minutes ago.”

Supervisor: “Who locked the door?”

Me: “I did.”

Supervisor: *curses* “He told me he was just going out for a smoke and fresh air! I told him to finish his aisles before he left.”

(He shows me that the aisles are, in fact, not complete, as there are multiple holes where he could have added the backstock and filled them.)

Me: “Oh, s***, I saw him with his jacket and bag, and just kind of assumed—”

Supervisor: “Nah, don’t worry about it; it’s not your fault. There was probably just a miscommunication there. It happens.”

(I agree, and we get back to work, picking up [Inept Coworker]’s slack and getting everything finished, as he didn’t complete frozen foods or dairy, the sections to which he was assigned. We have a third coworker take pictures beforehand. Cut to Wednesday night — I am off Tuesday — and I’m on my first fifteen-minute break, two hours into the shift, when [Supervisor] calls out to me that the manager wants to speak to me. I walk with him to the back, where our manager is talking with a very angry and defensive [Inept Coworker], who is saying that he’d definitely told [Supervisor] that he was leaving, but the minor point of contention that I need to clear up is who had locked the door behind him.)

Me: “Yeah, I locked it; I’d gone outside to the vending machine—”

Inept Coworker: *interrupting me* “No, you didn’t! I already said so!”

(He doesn’t let me get a word in edgewise, ranting about how everyone’s “snitching” on him about his work, and what he says, and what he does and doesn’t do, etc.)

Inept Coworker: “It’s like all y’all are against me or something!”

(I am pissed, since he basically called me a liar to my face, and I’m burning to ask him how much time and energy he thinks we have that we are coordinating and committing to a plot just to piss him off, but I refrain, letting [Inept Coworker] get a head full of steam all by himself. [Manager] cuts in that I have been asked a question, and to let me speak. [Inept Coworker] fumes as I explain that I went outside just as his ride pulled up to get a drink from the vending machine, and he was already gone by the time I’d locked the door.)

Me: “…so I locked the door; you just didn’t see me do it.”

Manager: *speaking to [Inept Coworker]* “So, you told [Supervisor] that you were just going out for a smoke—”

Inept Coworker: “No, I told him I was leaving! I was already done with all my stuff!”

Manager: *turning to me and [Supervisor]* “Was he?”

Supervisor: “No, he wasn’t. [Coworker #3] has pictures—”

Inept Coworker: “I don’t care what he has! I did all of the frozen aisles and dairy!”

Manager: “So, what were you doing for four f****** hours?”

(I’m assuming at this point that they’ve already discussed everything up to my involvement before I arrived at the discussion, so I step back but am still present.)

Inept Coworker: “The aisles! I told you, I finished them!”

Manager: “[Supervisor] says you didn’t, and if they have proof–“

([Inept Coworker] starts deflating at this point, muttering to himself about snitches again, saying, “Whatever.”)

Manager: “If you’re gonna mumble, you might as well speak up; we’re all adults here.”

(And in his infinite wisdom, [Inept Coworker] says the magic words.)

Inept Coworker: *as though this is a threat* “I don’t have to be here, you know.”

([Supervisor] and I exchange looks as there’s a brief pause. [Manager], who is clearly completely done with [Inept Coworker]’s attitude, draws himself up and speaks very calmly and clearly.)

Manager: “You know, you’re absolutely right. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you where the door is.” 

(There was another pause, in which [Supervisor] and I turned around and walked away. Our now former coworker gathered his stuff and left, leaving us once again to pick up his slack. Later, [Manager], [Supervisor], and I were talking, and we all came to the conclusion that, had [Inept Coworker] simply admitted there was a miscommunication and apologized for leaving on Monday, the worst-case scenario is that he’d likely have just gotten a write-up, if not merely a reprimand.)

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