How To Manage The Manager

, , , , , | Working | May 18, 2018

(I work in a supermarket deli and bakery combo that is extremely understaffed and has no manager, so when we are told they have hired one, we are very excited. We even go so far as to buy her a welcome bouquet. It quickly becomes apparent, however, that we were better off without her. Not only is she lazy, often ducking out for hours and leaving early, including leaving the entire back area looking like a bomb went off and with all her work left for evening shift, she’s also a condescending liar and a gossip. I learn, for instance, about the litigious family troubles another coworker is having when the manager is complaining about how inconvenient they are for her because it meant she has to take over one of the opening shifts and she hates getting up early. I tell her, flat-out, that if my coworker wanted me to know these personal things, she probably would have told me herself, and the manager rolls her eyes at me and walks away. Another time, during a terrible storm, the deli opener receives a call from her daughter who has gone into labour and is having some seriously scary complications, crying and begging for her mother to come to the hospital. When we call the manager about it, she initially says she will come in, but then later calls saying she “decided she needs a day off,” leaving me alone to open both departments for several hours. This is on top of things like saying one thing to us and then immediately denying it — to the point where everyone knows never to speak to her without someone else around — trying to bribe other department managers to do her paperwork, complaining unprompted to customers about how hard she has it because we, her “assistants,” can’t be trusted to do anything on our own and leave all our work for her. It’s insane. Everyone complains about her, but we are told the company is in a hiring freeze and they can’t let her go.  Anyway, I think she hates me more than anyone else there, because I am fortunate enough to be in a financial situation, thanks to my husband’s job, where I can just walk out if I want until I find something else. I am thus willing and able to stand up to her both on my own behalf and on the behalf of the other people in the department. The customers all love me, as does essentially everyone else in the store, and the owner knows I am a hard worker, so in addition to having everyone else back me up, she can’t really intimidate me. If I left, she would have to take over my five am bakery shift… something she is SUPPOSED to have trained for, since she is in charge of deli and bakery, but never actually bothered to do because she “doesn’t like mornings.” In the end, I am frustrated enough after making multiple formal complaints that I give my two-week’s notice and take another job elsewhere. All this brings us to a phone call that I get almost six months after leaving. I miss the initial call, and am surprised to hear my former manager very pompously telling me to call her back immediately.)

Ex-Manager: *without saying hello when she answers, sounding irritated* “Why didn’t you answer when I called?”

Me: *not bothering to be polite if she’s going to start out being rude* “Because I don’t work for you anymore, and I was doing something else.”

Ex-Manager: *as if I hadn’t spoken* “One of the new girls we hired isn’t working out, so I told [Store Manager] you would come in and handle some shifts for us until we got it sorted.”

Me: *amused* “Oh, did you? Well, unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. I have my own work, but mostly, I’m just not interested in coming back.”

Ex-Manager: *smugly* “Well, I already told him you would do it!”

Me: *laughing now* Wow, I guess if you told him, you really have me over a barrel, huh? If only I didn’t work for you anymore and thus aren’t at your beck and call!*hangs up*

(She kept calling and leaving messages, initially angry and threatening about how it “wouldn’t look good for me to back out of this” — you know, “this” being something I didn’t offer to do at a store I no longer worked at — and then outright begging. The funny thing is, had she just asked me earnestly, politely, and humbly, I might have been willing to help, but after discovering that she really hadn’t changed at all, the only thing I felt was relief that I’m out of all that stress and mess.)

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Shifty Behavior, Part 2

, , , , | Working | May 17, 2018

(I’ve just started a new job in a new city. I’m going about my day when my coworker approaches me with a request.)

Coworker: “Could you work this Saturday for me? I’ve got to go this preschool orientation for my kid.”

Me: “I’m not certain. The owner says he needs experienced people on the weekend crew because he doesn’t come in and it’s just two people working. I also need to check with my husband to see if we have plans already.”

Coworker: “Well, if you take my shift, I’ll be willing to swap any other day when you need it! Like, for instance, if you want to go to a concert on a Friday, I’d be available to take the shift. I need all I can get because this school is expensive.”

Me: “Okay, if you’re willing to swap at a later date.”

(One week later, my husband and I hear that there is, coincidentally, a concert on a Friday that both my husband and I are very excited about. I call up the coworker to see if he can work my Friday shift. After exchanging the necessary pleasantries, I get down to business.)

Me: “So, remember when I worked your shift? Would you be available for my evening shift on the Friday after next? This way you’d be able to spend some extra quality time with your son that you’ve said you’ve been missing since he started school.”

Coworker: “I don’t know; it’s such short notice, and I’d have to clear it with the wife and the schedule to see if I can make it. You know, us parents don’t have the same kind of free time that you and your boyfriend have got at the beginning of a relationship.”

Me: *feeling as though I had been duped and not appreciating the condescension* “Well, could you check? I’d also be willing to work another day for you, whenever you need it. You’re the last person I’m asking; everyone else is scheduled to work the Friday after next’s shift already, and this was going to be the way that we were going to celebrate our first wedding anniversary.”

Coworker: “Oh, I thought you were talking about this weekend! No, I can’t. I’ve got to be around the house all that week, preparing for our move.”

Me: “Oh, where are you moving to?”

Coworker: “The east coast. My parents have got us a great deal on a house and there’s a design business that hired me on. I was really lucky to get that job, but we’re kind of bummed that we’re going to have to move away. [Son] was getting along great in his school.”

Me: “Well, since I probably won’t see you again, best of luck.”

(When I got to work that weekend, because I picked up all of his shifts including a few on the weekdays, the regular employee told me that he’d known about this move since before we swapped shifts. He obviously had no intention whatsoever to return the favor and also lied about his kid being in preschool — he was in daycare — in order to gain sympathy.)

Shifty Behavior

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It’s A Race To The Top

, , , , , | Working | May 17, 2018

(I am working on the tills as a cashier, while one of my coworkers has just gone up to being a manager, despite the fact that I have been here four years and she has been here two and a half. I talk to her during break.)

Me: “How come you got the job? I’m not complaining; I’m just confused.”

Coworker: *smirking* “Well, it was between [Other Coworker] and me and we did… I guess roughly the same in our areas, but I wanted the job, so I told [Manager] that she called me a [racial slur].”

Me: “You can’t do that! You could seriously have ruined her job here!”

Coworker: *nearly laughing from spluttering* “So what? You can try it, as well. Just say that a coworker you don’t like — maybe [White Coworker #1] or [White Coworker #2] — called you a [racial slur] and the management will have them demoted.”

Me: “But it’s wrong! You can’t do that! And I don’t even have anything against those coworkers.”

Coworker: “I can and I will. And do you know why? Because we’re [race], and they’re too scared to fire us.”

(She got fired, surprisingly enough.)

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Rat Chance At Redemption

, , , , , , | Working | May 16, 2018

(I work in a big-box pet store in the pet care department, meaning I do customer service for people interested in buying the fish, reptiles, birds, and small mammals we sell, and I also take care of those animals. I love all animals, and it’s well-known among my coworkers and managers. I particularly enjoy taking care of the rats. Unfortunately, our suppliers keep and ship them in dreadful conditions, and some animals don’t do too well, obviously. Even more unfortunately, one of our new managers has taken it upon herself to micromanage the animal care, but has no experience in this area. She therefore makes mistakes like not turning away shipments of animals that have skin conditions or other serious health issues. Then, she has the nerve to blame employees for not curing them. She particularly hates me for some reason, even though we both adore rats. One new shipment has a rat that is particularly aggressive. Even after acclimating it, it snarls and tries to bite any human who approaches it. I try to steer clear of it because [Manager] insists that it’s just temperamental and won’t send it back or isolate it. One morning, I open the cage to give the rats food, and the evil rat RUSHES at the door, LEAPS out, and bites my finger hard. I wince as I scoop the rat back up with my non-bleeding hand and put it back in the cage, then go to get cleaned up. My finger is completely sliced open. Of course, the first aid kit is in the manager’s office.)

Manager: *immediately chewing me out* “What were you doing to the rat that it did that to you?”

Me: “I just opened the cage, and it rushed toward me before I could react.”

Manager: “Nonsense. Rats are sweet creatures. You did something wrong. That’s it. I don’t want you near the rats anymore. You’re forbidden from interacting with them.”

(I’m offended, and still bleeding, but gently remind her that I am the only person working in the department that morning and still need to give the rats fresh water and potentially show one to a customer.)

Manager: “They’ll be fine without fresh water until [Coworker] comes in. If a customer wants to buy a rat, come get me.”

(Sighing, I went back to work while nursing my finger. An hour or so later, a family came in, and guess what they wanted to buy? I alerted the manager and accompanied them to the rat cages. [Manager] was going on and on about how gentle and sweet rats are and what great pets they are for children. She opened the cage to retrieve an adorable gray one for the customer to pet; of course, it was the evil rat, who did not take kindly to the family’s cooing and promptly chomped down on [Manager]’s finger. She gasped, turned to look at me, and turned red with fury. The family decided a rat was not a good pet for them. [Manager] was eventually transferred to another store, although she never bothered me again for the remainder of her time at our store.)

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I Swear They Couldn’t Hear Me

, , , , | Working | May 16, 2018

(I work in a call centre, handling insurance sales and service. It’s a quiet day, and a coworker and my boss are standing directly behind me, talking loudly about awkward customers. I am sitting with my headset on, but just doing paperwork whilst they speak. My boss describes a customer he’s taken a complaint from as a “Right c*** of a customer!” Sick of him and my coworker using my working space to chat instead of getting on with their work, I quickly and hurriedly started apologising about the language used by my coworker to a “horrified customer.” My boss and my coworker fall silent as I feign trying to calm a seriously offended caller. After a few seconds, I take my headset off and turn around.)

Me: “If that had been a real customer, [Department Head] would have had you both sacked for that.”

Boss: *still rather pale* “You… weren’t on a call?”

Me: “No, but our microphones are awfully sensitive. Bear that in mind before complaining loudly about customers on the work floor.”

(Both my boss and my coworker slunk off back to their desks and I got on with my paperwork.)


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