Hellish Resources

, , | NM, USA | Working | November 2, 2016

During my career with a major oil company I learned early on that Human Resources does not exist to make my life easier. Here’s one of the most frustrating instances.

In the mid 1980s there was an oil discovery in New Mexico near the Texas border. As it looked to be significant, we and several other companies ramped up personnel in the region. There was only one small town in the area suitable for offices and living so everyone was sent there. Unfortunately, the town had a population under 30,000, so moving several hundred professionals and support staff in all at once caused a significant spike in real estate prices. Even more unfortunately, we were the last company to decide to move in so we were hit with the highest prices and the worst homes.

As it turned out, the discovery was a bust and a few years later everyone pulled out. Again, we were the last company to make the decision, so we were putting our houses, which had been far overpriced to begin with, onto a glutted market. Individuals were looking at losing 50 to 75% of their purchase prices, a significant hit.

As you can imagine there was a tremendous amount of complaining among the affected employees. It reached a point where corporate HR sent representatives out to address the issue. We gathered into an auditorium to hear what we hoped would be a rescue plan.

We were disappointed. Basically, the HR reps were telling us that we were on our own and the company wouldn’t help us. People began to get angry with the message and the questions got testier. Finally, one man asked what he was supposed to do given that the company’s decisions put us at a disadvantage coming and going.

There was a young woman from HR on the panel who responded. I’m not sure how long she had been with the company but she obviously had little real world experience. Her answer, and I quote, was: “You should have bought more responsibly.”

There was no lynching, not even a small riot, but the noise level got to the point the meeting broke up. Luckily for us, the head of the exploration company for which we worked over ruled the HR scrooges and incentives were provided to minimize our losses.

Was A Much Sweeter Interaction Than Thought

, | USA | Hopeless | October 22, 2016

(My brother and I are customers at a fast food place and overhear an interaction between a manager and an employee, who has Down Syndrome.)

Manager: *semi-angrily* “What are you eating?”

Employee: “Nothing…”

Manager: “I can see you eating something; what are you eating?”

Employee: “Nothing!”

(At this point my brother and I become uncomfortable because we think the employee is being yelled at for either eating product, or just eating while on the clock.)

Manager: “Is it a Rice Crispy treat? It’s a Rice Crispy treat, isn’t it?”

Employee: “…yeah.”

Manager: “Is it sugar free? It better be sugar free.”

Employee: “It is!”

Manager: “I don’t think it is. You know you aren’t supposed to have sugar. It can make you really sick!”

(My brother and I relax, and as we walk out to the car we talk about how relieved we were that we were just watching a concerned coworker rather than the employee getting in real trouble!)

The Boss Is As Nice As Pie

, | Orem, UT, USA | Hopeless | October 10, 2016

(Just before I go in to work, my mom calls to let me know that my uncle – who practically raised my father – has just passed away. Said uncle lived over 1,000 miles away from where we are now, so we’re still trying to work out who will be able to attend the funeral and all those other practical details while mourning. Having just recently gotten married, I’d used up all my time off for the honeymoon, and haven’t accrued much more. Once at work, I manage to catch my boss alone.)

Me: “I just wanted to let you know, my uncle passed away. We were very close to him – he pretty much raised my dad – so I would like to attend his funeral, if at all possible, but it’s out of state. I know I don’t have a lot of time off, but—”

Boss: *cutting me off* “I’ll process your compassionate leave with HR. Don’t worry about it. Normally, I don’t think they cover uncles, just immediate family and grandparents, but I’ll take care of it. So tell me about him. Your uncle.”

Me: “Well, he was in the military for a bit. Then he became a firefighter, and a cop, and later a police commissioner. He taught my dad everything he knew about sports, and he was one of the best men I’ve ever met. He has three kids, and his wife…” *at this point, I’m fighting back tears, because I don’t want to cry in front of my boss*

Boss: *noticing my struggle* “So I love pie. It’s awesome.”

Me: *choking back a laugh* “Pie is awesome. My favorite is pecan, but it doesn’t love me back. Stupid nut allergy!”

Boss: “That stinks! But seriously, pie! It’s the greatest creation known to mankind. Except rhubarb pie. That stuff’s gross!”

Me: “Seriously! And strawberry rhubarb is worse; why waste perfectly good berries, tainting them with rhubarb?”

(This continued for a few more minutes, as he cheered me up talking about pie, then puppies, then any number of other happy things. He also followed through and talked to HR, getting me enough time off that I was able to drive with my father and support him through the funeral. Best. Boss. Ever!)

Good Food And Better People

, , , | IN, USA | Hopeless | July 15, 2016

(I’m in my hometown after being gone for a decade to attend my sister’s memorial service. She was 28 and her death was not a pleasant one. Obviously, I am not doing so great. I get to town early and decide to grab lunch from my favorite restaurant before going home and getting ready for the service.)

Owner: “Hey, [My Name], can I get you the usual? Oh, you look upset. What’s wrong? ”

(Near tears, I explain the reason for my visit back to my hometown.)

Owner: “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry. You sit tight and I’ll be right back.”

(After a while the owner comes back with my order and several HUGE bags of food to go.)

Owner: “Here, take this to your family and have dinner on me after the funeral. Nobody should have to cook at a time like this.”

(Not only did she remember my name and my usual after not seeing me for ten years, but she had remembered the favorite dishes of the rest of my family, too. It brought a little ray of sunshine into a really hard day for me and my family.)

Can’t Hold A Scented-Candle At Your Boss

, , , | Scotland, UK | Hopeless | July 14, 2016

(I have Joint Hypermobility Syndrome which causes pain and means my joints bend too far. I’ve been in a lot of pain recently. After work one day, my boss and I are walking to our cars. I get in my car and start the engine. My boss opens the passenger door and puts a gift bag on the seat. She smiles at me and gets into her car and drives off before I get a chance to speak. I text her.)

Me: “Why did you do that?”

Her: “You’re a trooper and I know you’ve been in more pain recently than you have been letting on. I hope it cheers you up.”

(She gave me a cherry-scented candle, a cherry face scrub, and a mini bottle of my favourite wine. Best. Boss. Ever.)

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