Right Working Romantic Related Learning Friendly Healthy Legal Inspirational Unfiltered

Someone’s In Very Hot Water

, , , , , , , , | Working | February 10, 2022

In the early 2010s, I am working as a lot attendant at a grocery store. It is the middle of a July heatwave and temperatures are in the high nineties with very high humidity — not horribly uncommon for this particular part of Florida. I’ve only been with the company for a couple of weeks, but I know that our company encourages — but does not require — lot attendants to come in periodically during particularly hot days to get a drink of water. Normally, this isn’t a problem, since there are always at least two or three lot attendants on duty at any time, and our manager rotates between us periodically.

On this particular day, however, I’m the only lot attendant on duty, as the other two who normally work today did not show up; one called out sick and the other is out of state for a wedding. Two hours into my shift, I am getting thirsty and exhausted, so I go in for a drink of water. The store manager, who is standing nearby, stops me.

Manager: “Where are you going?”

Me: “For a drink of water.”

Manager: “No. You can’t leave the lot unattended.”

Me: “I’ve been out here two hours, and I’m thirsty!”

Manager: “Deal with it. There are no other lot attendants. You are not coming inside.”

Me: “Can’t you send one of the baggers out to help?”

Manager: “No, their job is not to push carts; their job is to bag. Your job is to push carts. You are the only lot attendant here, so you cannot come inside.”

Me: “But I—”

Manager: *Raising her voice* “Not. Another. Word. You are not allowed to come inside from now until the end of your shift. If I see you inside the store at any point before you leave for the day, you will be fired! Sign this and get back to work, now!

She hands me a write-up for insubordination. I reluctantly sign it and return to pushing carts. Two hours later, I am exhausted to the point that I can barely push more than three carts at once. A gentleman getting out of his car notices me and walks over.

Gentleman: “Are you all right, buddy?”

Me: “I’m fine.”

Gentleman: “No. You do not look fine. How long have you been out here? And have you been drinking water?”

Me: “Four hours, and not a drop.”

Gentleman: “Okay, you need to come inside.”

Me: “But my boss said I’d be fired if—”

Gentleman: “You will not be fired. That is a personal promise from me. What’s your name?”

Me: “[My Name].”

Gentleman: “Okay, [My Name], go to the break room. I’ll buy you some water and speak to your boss myself. Again, you will not be fired. That is a promise.”

I feel a little relieved upon hearing this, so I go inside and head straight to the breakroom, hoping I won’t encounter my manager. Surprise, surprise, she is sitting there when I walk in.


Me: “But I—”


I sheepishly leave the breakroom. The gentleman from earlier notices me as I am coming out of the breakroom.

Gentleman: “Where are you going?”

Me: “Home. [Manager] just fired me.”

A look of pure rage develops on the gentleman’s face.

Gentleman: “Oh, please tell me she did not just do that.”

Me: “Yes. She did.”

Gentleman: “Son of a… Come with me. I will personally handle this.”

The gentleman escorts me to the break room and tells me to go in first. The manager is still inside.

Manager: “WHY THE F*** HAVEN’T YOU LEFT YET?! I told you to —”

The manager’s face suddenly turns chalk-white as the gentleman steps in.

Manager: “[Gentleman]? What are —”


Manager: “I—”

Gentleman: “This poor kid’s been outside for four f****** hours without water! He’s clearly dehydrated, and he could’ve suffered a heat stroke! What the f*** were you thinking? Why didn’t you send someone else out?”

Manager: “B-because—”

Gentleman: “You know what? Save it. Go to the office, right now. We are going to discuss that in a moment.”

He turns to me and hands me two bottles of water he bought for me.

Gentleman: “Here you go, [My Name]. Take thirty minutes to cool down, and then go help out in frozen food for the rest of your shift. I’ve already got two of the baggers helping out with carts.”

Me: “Thank you.”

Gentleman: “Don’t mention it. Guy’s gotta look out for his employees.”

He then pulled his company name tag out of his shirt pocket, with the title “Regional Director” underneath his name. We shook hands, and he went to the office to talk with my manager. While I was drinking the water he had given me, I could hear him screaming at the manager for a good fifteen minutes. His voice suddenly went down, and then the manager’s voice suddenly raised for a few minutes before she stormed out. She glared at me on her way out as she was passing the break room. The regional director came back into the breakroom and assured me that I wouldn’t have to deal with her anymore and that my write-up from earlier had been quashed.

The very next day, the company announced a new policy for heatwaves. Lot attendants were no longer permitted to stay outside continuously for more than one hour at a time in temperatures over 95°, and stores had to provide them with complimentary cold water bottles that they could take outside with them.

As for the manager, she got suspended for fourteen days, and then she was fired when she got back. From what I heard, they were originally going to simply demote and transfer her to another store after her suspension, but an investigation conducted during that time revealed that she forced underage employees to work longer hours than were permitted by Florida law, and in many cases, she didn’t allow them to take breaks that were otherwise mandatory.

This story is part of our Halfway-Through-2022 roundup!

Read the next Halfway-Through-2022 roundup story!

Read the Halfway-Through-2022 roundup!

Question of the Week

What is the most stupid reason a customer has asked to see your manager?

I have a story to share!