Racism: The T-Shirt

, , , , , | Right | January 22, 2021

My coworker pages me to the front to answer a question pertaining to my department, so I walk over and ask what’s up. The T-shirts in my department range in price, starting from about $4 and going up to closer to $12. It depends on style, brand, etc.

Coworker: “These T-shirts have a $3.99 sticker, but they look like the more expensive ones. Is that price right?”

The customer looks annoyed at my coworker asking for help, and I take one look at the T-shirt and decide:

Me: “Yeah, that should be right.”

I go to fix the mess of carts in the front corrals that always seems to happen when we’re busy, so I’m nearby when the customer finishes her transaction and walks out the door.

Customer: *Talking about my coworker* “Like I’d switch price tags or something. White b****.”

I give the customer an annoyed, shocked look as I walk back over to my coworker and we talk about the transaction for a minute.

Coworker: “I just wanted to make sure! All I said was, ‘I want to double-check one thing quick.’ And she thought I was being racist or something, but I’d do that for anybody. Those shirts seemed like the more expensive ones. The price tags are different!”

Me: “I really didn’t want to deal with her. But just in case, I’ll go check the T-shirt section.”

Sometimes I hate people. We’re not saying you’re the one who switched the price tags, if they got switched, but when you make a giant deal out of it like that, it looks strange. We’d question it if a white person came up with those shirts, too. Sigh.

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About To Be Rum-Punched Back To Reality

, , , , , , | Right | January 21, 2021

I’m standing in line at my local liquor store and see three young lads attempting to buy a carton of rum. 

Cashier: “I’m sorry, but I can’t sell this to you without seeing some form of ID.”

Customer #1: “Oh, yeah, sure.”

The customer hands over his license.

Cashier: “This says you’re only sixteen. I can’t sell you alcohol.”

Customer #1: “Oh, it’s just old. Can’t you accept it?”

Cashier: “Doesn’t matter how old it is; your birthday never changes.”

Customer #1: “All right, I got another way.”

He takes out his mobile phone and begins tapping, and then he holds it up to the cashier.

Customer #1: “See? It says you must be over eighteen to access this website. I hit this, and I’m in! I must be over eighteen!”

Cashier: “That doesn’t tell me your age. It just says to me that you know how to access an adult website. You need to leave now.”

The kids seemed really disappointed and left at that point.

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What Is This, A Preschool?!

, , , , | Working | January 21, 2021

At work, I am the “young guy” to call when a printer doesn’t work. Nine times out of ten, one of the older guys is trying to print on the wrong size or it just needs resetting. However, as most of the team is part of an older generation, I quickly become the font of all knowledge for IT, even though I don’t know what I am doing 90% of the time.

I don’t mind; the guys are always appreciative, and they’re understanding when I can’t fix it and have to call the real IT guys. And I am learning lots from them.

This goes on fine until our office is merged. One of the workers who move to our office is a woman who is only in her late forties but treats all technology as alien. She will cuss and bang her keyboard and sarcastically state how “great all this modern technology is.” 

I admit, [Worker] gets under my skin from the word go; I am grateful that she works for another team and I can (try to) tune her out.

A few weeks in, I hear her talking with someone about some issue she has.

Worker: “Oh, is he our local IT guy? I didn’t know that.”

I know what is happening and, despite there being some sort of desperate hushed clarification attempted, I know [Worker] has decided that I am the go-to for all of her issues.

Nothing happens for a few more days, but then she attempts to summon me to her desk, a feat made more painful as she doesn’t bother to learn my name. Eventually, I give in and walk over.

Worker: “Listen, I am having an issue with this program. It’s not saving where I want it to. How do we fix that?”

Me: “Well, I’m no expert on these things, but I would suggest using ‘Save As,’ rather than saving on closing. That should give you control every time.”

Worker: “I have no idea what you are talking about; you will have to show me.”

Me: “Okay, I can do it this time. I don’t work for IT but I can point it out.”

I show her the big, named button. She seems unimpressed.

Worker: “Okay, I guess I will try that.”

She turns away from me and I gratefully leave her desk.

This happens on and off for the next few weeks. Each time, I repeat that I don’t work in IT or just give her the helpline number. I have taken to wearing headphones, as is allowed in our office. This seems to work until one day when I feel something whiz by my head. I jolt up, whipping my headphones off.

Worker: “Oh, good. You’re paying attention. I can’t get this to print.”

Me: “Did you just throw something at me?”

Worker: “It didn’t hit you. Now, come on, snap snap. I need this printed.”

I thought of all the things I could say and instead just walked out of the office. I kept waking to calm down. I must have been really out of it as I missed three calls from my boss. By the time I’d collected myself, I rang him back but couldn’t get hold of him. I reluctantly went back to my desk.

The office was largely empty, which was very, very odd. I checked I hadn’t missed a meeting. For the next hour, I was slightly paranoid that I should be somewhere else. I got a phone call from my boss; he wanted to see me in Human Resources.

It turns out that someone had complained about [Worker] throwing things at me; she’d made some pretty serious accusations about me when questioned. This meant several more of the team were brought in to confirm. When she was brought back the second time, she repeated her claims, this time going on and on about how, as “IT,” I wasn’t doing my job, I was lazy, I was unprofessional, etc. She even admitted knowing that I didn’t work for IT but thought I should do it anyway.

She was eventually removed from the office and stuck in some dingy below-ground office somewhere. I’ve never had to deal with her since.

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Some Guys Just Can’t Take What They Dish Out

, , , , , | Working | January 21, 2021

It’s the late 1980s, early in my career, when I land a position with a small agricultural company. Most of the products — specifically live animals — are shipped around the globe, so organizing transportation to the customers is a critical function. The guy who has been doing this Logistics and Traffic role for years is d*** good at his job.

In my first weeks of employment, I also quickly discover that he is an extremely gruff, opinionated, and sometimes blunt individual — what would now be called an “office bully.” He is known to engage in shouting matches with other staff in the hallways, for example. During my first few months, I do not have much need to interact with him so I am able to keep my distance.

One day, my manager informs me that the company wants to send me on a trip to one of our subsidiaries in another country. Since [Logistics Guy] also handles company travel bookings, I have to go make arrangements with him. Cue the “Jaws” music in the background.

After I give him the dates and destination, he grabs a notepad and starts to put together an itinerary. This part goes well as he acts more or less professional and offers tips and advice as we discuss the options. When I mention that my manager told me to have him book a rental car at the destination, he suddenly explodes like a hand grenade. He starts throwing the papers in the air and loudly berating me for such a request.

Logistics Guy: “Everyone else who goes down there gets the local manager to pick them up at the airport! You don’t need a g**d*** rental car! Waste of company money! Forget about it!”

When this tantrum hits full stride, I make a decision that is either going to cost me my job or deal with this guy head-on. I look him straight in the eyes, and in the strongest voice I could summon, I say:

Me: “Shut up! Just shut the h*** up! If you have an issue with any of the arrangements I have requested, go speak to [Manager]! Otherwise, just do as I have asked and let me know when you are done!”

Before he can pick his lower jaw up off his desk, I look at him with the coldest eyes possible and add:

Me: “And do not, I repeat do not ever, ever treat me in this way again!”

As I stood up and turned to go, he grumbled briefly in a low voice but I was not listening. I shook like a leaf on the way back to my desk, wondering what kind of crapstorm might be in store for me. But an hour or so later, he came by my desk and tossed a copy of the itinerary on my desk with a growl that sounded like, “Here you go.”

My manager never came and talked to me about the blow-up, so I guess what is said in Logistics stayed in Logistics. For the rest of my two years there, we never avoided each other, but he never tried to bully me at any time, either.

Fast forward almost a decade later. I took a new position with a similar company not far from my former job. On my orientation tour, we stepped into the Logistics office and who should I meet but [Logistics Guy]. By then, he seemed to have mellowed quite a bit and was calm and professional any time I saw him in the office. That I was glad to see, and we never discussed our past history.

He retired a few years later, but I always remember that he — unintentionally — taught me the value of not taking any s*** from office bullies.

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We’d Like To Give Them A Pizza Our Mind

, , , , , | Working | January 21, 2021

During a busy day at work, I decide that I don’t feel like cooking tonight, so I decide to try ordering a pizza online from a new pizza joint in town. Like most restaurants, the website gives you the choice of when you want your order to be ready for pickup, so I enter my usual dinner time. It’s about five hours into the future, because I still have four hours to work for my own shift.

After work, I run some other errands to kill time and then pick up my pizza and head home to eat. With the first bite, I realize that something is off; this is definitely not a fresh, hot pizza at all. I call the pizza joint to complain and ask for a fresh pizza.

Employee: “Hello, [Pizza Joint]. How can I help you?”

Me: “Hi, I ordered a pizza online earlier today. When I picked it up and tried to eat it, it was almost stale. I would like to return it for a fresh pizza.”

Employee: “Okay, can I please get your name?”

Me: “[My Name].”

Employee: “Okay. You ordered a [specialty pizza], correct?”

Me: “Yes.”

Employee: “And what was wrong with the pizza?”

Me: “It’s barely lukewarm, and the crust tastes like it’s gone stale.”

Employee: “I see. Our records show that you were almost five hours late picking up your pizza, so unless there’s something actually wrong with it, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Me: “How could I be five hours late when the pizza wasn’t supposed to be ready until 6:00 pm?”

Employee: “Our records show that you placed your order online at 1:00 pm; is that correct?”

Me: “Yeah, but I chose to have it ready at 6:00.”

Employee: “Um… sir, that’s not possible. We don’t have that option on our website.”

Me: “Yeah, you do. I’m literally looking at the receipt for my order right now. It says 6:00 pm pick-up.”

Employee: “Well, the order came in at 1:00 pm, so we made your order at 1:00 pm. If you wanted a later pickup time, you should have ordered later.”

Me: “Is there a manager I could speak to, please?”

Employee: “Sir, the only person above me here is the owner. I guarantee you he will only tell you the same thing. You were late picking up your pizza. If there was nothing wrong with it, we can’t replace it. Goodbye!”

The employee actually hangs up on me. Frustrated, I drive to the restaurant, pizza in tow, to speak to the owner, who turns out to be the employee’s father. He sides with his son/employee in claiming that I was just too late picking up my order, even after I show him the email receipt that very clearly shows I wanted my order at 6:00 pm. I decide to just get my money back, and after ten minutes of arguing, the owner finally gives me my money back.

But wait… there’s more! When I get home, I leave an extremely negative review on the restaurant’s Facebook page — nothing nasty, just a thoroughly detailed account of what happened — and end up reading similar negative reviews from other customers. About an hour after I leave my review, the owner chimes in on the post, in true Not Always Working fashion, to try and refute my order. Of note here: I am a black man while the owner is white.

Owner: “[My Name], for the last time, we do not have that option on our website. Never have, never will. Maybe if you used regular time instead of [racial slur] time, you would get fresh pizza.”

I chose not to respond any further, but I did report the owner’s response to the local Chamber of Commerce. I live in a very politically liberal area where racism is absolutely not tolerated by local authorities. The pizza joint’s business license for our county was revoked, and they were forced to shut down.

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