This Lesson Really Stings

, , , , , , , | Working | December 22, 2020

My father-in-law is a pretty smart man, especially when it comes to anything construction. The company he has worked for for several decades really values him and has offered him numerous promotions but he won’t take them. He prefers running the big equipment and not being responsible for idiots — his words. Unfortunately, every so often they hire some new young supervisor for a job who thinks that, because they have some fancy college education and an expensive shirt and tie, they know more than anyone else.

One day, they are clearing land for a road. My father-in-law is operating a closed cab backhoe. It’s not common to see a closed cab but it essentially surrounds the operator in glass to protect them from brush and such as they are moving through an undeveloped area.

He comes upon a tree that needs to be knocked down and realizes that it is hollow. Looking upward, he sees what looks to be liquid flowing down. My father-in-law knows that means a mighty big beehive. He also knows what will happen if anyone so much as touches that tree. He shuts down the backhoe and climbs out to take a better look to decide the best course of action.

The new supervisor comes stomping over.

Supervisor: *Shouting* “What the f*** do you think you are doing?”

Father-In-Law: “The tree is hollow. You can see up there…”

Supervisor: *Cutting him off* “I don’t give a d***. Get in there and get to it!”

Father-In-Law: “But you don’t understand. If I touch that tree…”

Supervisor: “WHAT DO YOU MEAN, I DON’T UNDERSTAND?! I will have you know that I have far more education than you! Now get your stupid, uneducated a** back in that cab, you old f***, and KNOCK DOWN THAT TREE!”

Big mistake. Now he has ticked my father-in-law off. So, my father-in-law climbs back into the cab and starts up the machine. The supervisor stomps off to a group of big shots, inspectors, and such that are standing nearby, talking about how sometimes you just have to crack the whip on these stupid laborers, and they all chuckle.

With the biggest smile he can muster, my father-in-law begins hitting that tree. And, like an explosion, a solid mass of bees pour out of a hole at the bottom of the tree. They immediately attack the backhoe, but my father-in-law is perfectly safe. At that point, the bees turn their attention to the supervisor and the others standing nearby. It is not pretty. The bees swarm them. But my father-in-law just keeps hitting the tree. With every hit, more bees pour out, even angrier than the last ones.

The supervisor starts screaming for my father-in-law to stop, but being in the enclosed glass cab and with the engine running, there is no way he can hear him. At least, that is his story later on and he sticks to it. My father-in-law does not stop until that tree is knocked down, and hundreds of angry bees chase the supervisor and all the others for about a mile.

After the supervisor and others got out of the hospital, they had a meeting with the company owner — who thought of my father-in-law as a brother — and all the higher-ups. The supervisor, of course, tried to blame my father-in-law. The owner and others who knew my father-in-law well could barely keep a straight face when my father-in-law said, “Well, I am just a stupid, old laborer and was just doing what the highly-educated man told me to do.”

Of course, my father-in-law didn’t get in trouble and there is a happy ending. My father-in-law said that the supervisor became a much more humble man after that, never mistreated any of his employees again, and learned to listen to the more experienced people under him. Every so often, the two of them still treat each other to a beer.

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So Much For Applying Yourself

, , , , , , | Working | December 22, 2020

When I was in college, I picked up a part-time Christmas seasonal job working as an engraver at a shop that specializes in high-end items and the engraving that might go with it.

Traditionally, the stores were pretty small in general. Ours was tiny and we usually only had two people on staff: a salesperson and me. Normally, salespeople were trained as engravers as well and did double duty, but because it was Christmas time, they had each role hired specifically. So, I was hired as an engraver. 

As the season went on and I spent more time working, I started to pick up on the various sales stuff and it got to a point where I could do everything except process a sale just because I didn’t have the correct credentials. So, if I was waiting for an engraving job to finish, or didn’t have anything to do — a very rare occurrence — and we were swamped, I’d go help our salesperson out.

As the season went on and it got closer to the end of my time, my manager started asking me to stay. They needed to hire another full-time employee and she liked me and knew that I’d be able to do the job. I, of course, accepted.

And that’s when things went sideways. There’d been some drama brewing most of the holiday season because there was this regional who hated that my manager called her out on the stupid things she did. These were things like saying we couldn’t go home until all the engraving was done; the week before Christmas, the earliest I was leaving was usually midnight and I was staying about two hours away. She hated that and had been slowly trying to push my manager out for a while, but my manager pushed back.

Because of the fact that I was hired exclusively as an engraver, to be able to be brought on full-time, I had to reapply to the position with the regular coding. I reapplied and failed because I answered some of the questions like, “A coworker was out for two days for personal reasons and when they got back they told you they just didn’t feel like coming to work. What do you do?” incorrectly. Apparently. My manager still tried to push, saying that I knew what I was doing and they could use someone like me on staff. 

The regional pushed back and said no, that I had to wait, like, three months to be able to apply again. So, we did, and my manager literally called me the day that probation period was over to push me to apply again. I still failed, and when my manager pushed again, the regional said I wasn’t a good fit.

I went back to the store a few months later to talk to my manager for other reasons and she wasn’t there. When I asked, I got a line of, “She’s no longer with the company.” I’m pretty sure that the regional used her defense of me to push her out completely.

The next Christmas, I got a letter from the company telling me that they “hoped I’d consider joining them again for the holiday season!” I promptly threw it in the fire.

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The Holidays Are Creeping Up On You

, , , , , , | Working | December 22, 2020

I am leaving my job at the local mall at sunset and my male friend is walking me to my car. When he walks ahead to get something from his car, I notice someone standing under the nearby street light. It is a rather scruffy-looking guy and, being a 108-pound female, I don’t want to stay near him very long. I go up to my friend.

Me: “Could you please walk me back to the car? I’m a little scared.”

Friend: “Why?”

I point the guy out. My friend shouts at him to get lost and I get into my car to drive away. The next morning when I come back, I see him STILL THERE UNDER THE SAME STREET LIGHT. He doesn’t look any less threatening in the daylight, either.

Because he is only about forty yards away and staring in my direction, I don’t get out of the car until several more cars have arrived, and even then I take the long way around. My boss is very irritated because Christmas is coming up and we are short-staffed.

Boss: “You’re late. I’ll have to write you up.”

Me: *Explains the story* “Ask [Friend].”

Boss: *Fed up* “I really don’t care right now. Just get to work. Consider this a warning: if you can’t get out of your car and walk an eighty-second walk to the front doors, maybe you should consider employment somewhere else.”

While the creepy guy isn’t there when I leave that night, he is there four days later, staring from across the parking lot. I am not sure if his anger was directed at me this time because there are quite a number of shoppers present, but I don’t dare leave the store on my break.

When that happens, my boss comes up to me and tells me that I need to go and have lunch because I’ll be breaking the rules if I don’t.

Me: “The creepy guy was out there this morning; I’m too scared.”

Boss: *Flippantly* “For goodness’ sake, we have cameras here! It’s a mall! Nothing bad is going to happen. You’re on thin ice right now, [My Name]. Stop making a mountain out of a molehill.”

I had my lunch and came back. When my friend walked me back to my car, the creepy guy was back at the same spot, only a lot closer to my car. When I drove out, he turned his head to look at me as I left. I didn’t see him after that, although I was too paranoid to leave the house that Christmas.

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Manager, Manage! Part 5

, , , , , | Working | December 21, 2020

I work one summer at a local store of [Major Fast Food Company]. I work the morning shift as I have a second job in the evenings. One morning, after we have switched from breakfast to lunch, this customer comes to my register.

Customer: “Hi. I’d like [item], please.”

Me: “Certainly. Your total is $1.17.”

I turn around, grab the item and bag it, and turn back to collect his money. He gives me a $20 bill. I take it, set it across the till as we are taught to do, take out the $18.83 in change: a ten, a five, and three ones — note the order — plus eighty-three cents.

Me: “It was $1.17 and here’s your change. Eighty-three cents makes two, three, four, five, ten, and twenty.”

As I hand him his food, the customer folds the bills in half, puts the change in his front pocket, and then immediately pulls it out again. During this, I put the $20 bill under the drawer and close the till.

Customer: “Excuse me, you didn’t give me the correct change.”

He holds out the bills and shows me a one, a five, and three ones in that order.

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, but I gave you the correct change.”

Customer: “No, you didn’t. You gave me a one-dollar bill instead of a ten.”

Me: “No, sir. I counted it out to you. A ten, a five, and three ones, plus the coins.”

By then, I have figured out what happened by the order of the bills. He must have had the second set of bills already in his pocket and switched them so he could scam me out of the $9 difference.

Customer: “No, you counted so fast that it looked like you gave me a ten, but you gave me a one, instead.”

Me: “Sir, if you’d like, you can give me your name and address. We’ll count out the till and if you’re right, it will be over by $9. We’ll mail the money to you.”

Customer: “No. I want my money now.”

One of the assistant managers has seen us debating and comes over.

Manager: “Hello, sir, what seems to be the problem?”

Customer: “This kid short-changed me. He gave me a one instead of a ten as part of my change. Look!”

Me: “I counted out his $18 in change. A ten, a five, and three ones. He now says I gave him a one, a five, and three ones. I offered to take his name and address and we’ll mail him the difference after we count the till.”

Manager: “No, it’s not fair to make him wait like that.”

She opened the till, took out $9, and gave it to the customer, who walked away with a happy smile and his food. She then closed the till, ran the count report, took both back to the office, and returned with a fresh till for me. She then returned to the office and counted the till. Surprise! It was $9 short.

After the store manager arrived and was told what had happened, he came to me and congratulated me for handling it correctly. I give credit to the assistant manager for not trying to blame me for her mistake. He then asked me — during the lunch rush! — to write out a description of what had happened so he could send it around to other fast food restaurants in the area.

Guess who had a discussion with the store manager about proper till procedures?

Manager, Manage! Part 4
Manager, Manage! Part 3
Manager, Manage! Part 2
Manager, Manage!

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These Stories Make Me Appreciate My Bosses

, , , | Working | December 21, 2020

For “productivity” reasons, we’re now required to report our activities daily, with an indication of the time spent, e.g. one and a half hours filing paperwork, two hours on [project], and so on. This annoys my colleague to no end.

One day, she shows me an email she received from the boss.

Boss’s Email: “How come when I add up the hours on your daily, the total is always seven and a half? What do you do in those thirty minutes?”

Colleague: *To me* “He doesn’t get it, does he? Thirty minutes a day are wasted writing the bloody daily itself!”

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