File.Karma

, , , , , , , | | Working | July 19, 2019

In the 80s, a friend was a technical programmer for a major oil company, and was given a project to create a program to enable users to visualize 3D data. Due to the primitive nature of hardware and software at that time, she had to use a lot of tricks to get the code to run in a reasonable time. It was a lot of work and a tremendous accomplishment; when she was done, the company had a tool that gave it a significant advantage over their competitors.

Her boss at the time was a man who was a suck-up to upper management, always found within a ten-foot radius of the highest ranking person in any gathering. So, when the determination was made that her program would be demonstrated to our CEO, her boss naturally decided he should be the one to give said demonstration. Unfortunately for him, although he knew in general terms what the program did, he had never used it, and at that time it didn’t have the fancy graphical interfaces that exist today. Even experienced users could have difficulties with it, and he was starting from ground zero and trying to get up to speed in less than two weeks.

Her boss called my friend into his office multiple times every work day for help, and he even phoned her at home to ask questions in the evenings. The latest call was 11:35!

When the big day came, her boss got up in front of the assembled dignitaries and started in. When he tried to access program, he got a few steps in and ran into a problem. My friend gave him instructions from the back of the room but then something else popped up. Eventually, my colleague took over the demo and gave a well-received talk.

She confessed later that due to the nature of the program it had frequent updates, sometimes more than one a day. There had been one that morning, along with a document explaining changes to the name list file used to run the program. Her boss, as she’d known he would, hadn’t read it! So, she got to look good at his expense, he didn’t get to steal credit for her work, and there was nothing really that he could do about it.

California Screaming

, , , , , , | | Working | July 18, 2019

In the late 80s, I worked in Ventura, California, in a satellite office for a large company. My direct boss was in the San Francisco Bay area and I flew up once or twice a month. The best airport for the trip was just north of Santa Barbara, California, about 45 miles from my house. For several months, I used a startup shuttle service that delivered door-to-door for a reasonable price. I was always happy with the service until one bad experience.

I was returning home after a two-day meeting and had landed in Santa Barbara at 6:00 pm. With only carry-on luggage, I was able to get off the plane fast and found my driver; I was looking forward to being home before seven to read stories to my kids and have a late dinner with my wife. But it wasn’t to be.

The driver told me we were going to pick up another passenger whose plane was due to land at 6:45. That delay would have been bad enough, but it got worse. Her plane was late, she had checked luggage, and we weren’t actually in the car until after 7:30. Then, when we were about halfway to my house, the driver turned off the freeway to go to Ojai, California. On the map, it doesn’t look like much distance, but it was by a back road and slow. Plus, her destination was at the far side of the town. All told, the wait and detour got me home over two hours later than I’d expected, and I was not happy.

I called the service the next day to complain and was promised a callback. When that didn’t happen for two days, I called again with the same result. Eventually, I finally talked to the owner over a week later. Had she been prompt in replying and at least apologetic, perhaps explaining there were financial circumstances that led to the events, I could have accepted it and moved on. But she wasn’t. I told her that I and my nine direct reports would not be using her service again.

We also had over 100 total employees in the office, all of whom went to the Bay Area with differing frequencies, and many of whom used the car service. At a Monday meeting of all people in the building, I gave my experience as a cautionary tale and let them take it from there. I don’t know what direct effect that had, but I do know that the service was out of business a year later.

Dreaming Of Another Meeting

, , , , , | | Working | July 17, 2019

(I’m the assistant manager of a lawyer’s office, and whilst I get everything done, I’m really laid back and insist on being left alone. When the manager quits, his replacement isn’t fully aware of my way of working.)

Manager: “Where is [My Name]?”

Assistant: “Um, I do believe he’s asleep in his office.”

Manager: “ASLEEP?! HE HAS AN IMPORTANT MEETING WITH [VERY IMPORTANT CLIENT] IN FIFTEEN MINUTES!”

Assistant: “Yes, he knows. Don’t worry; everything will be fine.”

Manager: “FINE?! WE HAVE AN IMPORTANT MEETING AND HE’S ASLEEP!”

(The manager blasts into my office.)

Manager: “[My Name]! WHERE ARE YOU?!”

Me: “Under my desk! Go away!”

Manager: “MY OFFICE! TWO MINUTES!”

(I’m in her office in one minute.)

Manager: “WHY WERE YOU ASLEEP? DON’T YOU KNOW WE HAVE A MEETING IN TEN MINUTES?!”

Me: “Yes. Everything’s under control.”

(She spends the next ten minutes quizzing me on the meeting, which makes us late. Then, because she is so concerned about my being asleep and not prepared, she isn’t prepared herself. After the meeting ends:)

Me: “Next time, just worry about yourself and leave me alone.”

Fast Food Slowly Becoming A Joke

, , , , , , , | | Working | July 16, 2019

Having never been big on fast food, I have never been to a certain chain. My roommate is craving something from there and I have no plans, so I decide, why not try it?

The place is clean, with only one off-duty employee in the place and one car in the drive-thru. My roommate knows what she wants and instantly orders. While she does so, I read the menu and decide on something simple. As she steps to a side, I step forward… and the cashier walks off to start filling ice in the lobby. Okay, maybe he just doesn’t want it to melt all over the counter. Then, he takes the bucket back and starts going through his checklist of cleaning. I am still standing at the counter. No one is in the drive-thru now. The off-duty employee and my roommate are standing at the end of the counter waiting for food.

The manager walks up and the off-duty employee coughs and points toward me. The manager doesn’t take the hint, so he speaks up and says, “Hey, you have someone waiting to order.”

The manager yells for the cashier to come up from the back and starts my order. I ask for a #5 small combo, no mayo. I think this is a fairly simple order. I am wrong.

It takes four tries to get it entered right. I should just walk out, because the cashier does. My roommate has finished eating now. I still don’t even have a soda cup. I get handed a bag with cold fries. Nothing else.

I call the manager over. Thankfully, I have the receipt. He takes the cold fries. A few moments later, I have a burger: bun, burger, extra mayo, no cheese, no bacon — no anything but enough mayo to drown a rat. Those fries? They are even colder now. And the cup is still sitting somewhere under the counter. I look at it, look at the manager, and shake my head. He looks at the receipt and says, “Oh, I’ll fix it,” and takes the bun and starts scraping mayo off it into the trash.

My roommate is now laughing her head off. The off-duty employee is looking embarrassed and disgusted. I tell the manager not to bother, and to just refund it as I have lost my appetite. He says he will have to charge me for the soda, and my roomie, the off-duty employee, and I all ask him, “What soda? I never got a cup!” He assures me the charge has been reversed, no trouble.

The next day, on a whim, I check with the bank. Not only has he not refunded me, he has charged me a second time. I tell the bank to refuse payment as it is fraudulent. I find out the district manager’s name and number and explain what happened. He takes my name and info. I mail him a copy of the information from the bank and a copy of the receipt.

A week later, they have a “now hiring” sign up as we go past. Today, I received a handwritten note of apology and coupons for free meals, but I think I will give them to my roommate.

Ya Think?!

, , , , , | | Working | July 15, 2019

(I am put on the rota for a day that I requested off, as some executives from head office are coming in and I was noted by our manager for being a good ambassador for the site. This conversation happens after the executives leave on the day. Staff can request days off in their normal availability by penciling the date in a diary in the manager’s office.)

Manager: “They told me you perform well but didn’t feel like you wanted to be here.”

Me: *deadpan* “I requested today off to observe the first anniversary of my uncle’s death with my loved ones, but was told I couldn’t have it because [Executives] were coming.”

Manager: “Oh…”

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