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Liar Is As Liar Does

, , , , , | Working | October 6, 2021

I have been with this company for years and have a great track record, but to progress any further, I need to show some leadership and management ability. They offer me a promotion and a small team to manage. I accept and things start pretty well.

A week or so into the job, one of the guys pulls me to one side.

Employee: “Hey, listen. My wife has been called into surgery tomorrow. I need the day off to take her.”

Me: “Tomorrow? Wow, that’s short notice. Err, yes, of course. Take it off. I can sort something out here.”

Employee: “Great, thanks. She has been on the waiting list for ages and they had a spot.”

The next day is a rush. We already have a guy off sick and no cover. I end up getting there early and stay way after hours to cover. I’m just about finished, and I get back to my desk and slump in my chair.

One of the other managers spots me and comes over.

Manager: “You look beat.”

Me: “Yeah, one guy is off sick and the other had a family emergency.”

Manager: “Was it [Employee] with the emergency?”

Me: “Yeah, he needed some time off for his wife.”

Manager: “Surgery?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Manager: “Just to let you know, [Employee]’s wife has had multiple ‘surgeries,’ but he can never show any proof. A couple of times he’s been caught down the pub, instead.”

Me: “What? How has he gotten away with it?”

Manager: “[Owner] wants to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially when family is sick. Although, if I were you, I might give the sickness policy a read-over.”

He leaves. I take the policy home with me to read overnight and book [Employee] in for a back-to-work meeting the next day.

Me: “Hi, [Employee]. How are you? How is the wife?”

Employee: “Okay, thanks. I might need a couple more days off, you know, for follow-up appointments.”

Me: “Sure, sure. So, we have these meetings to make sure you are okay to return to work and clear payment for time off. On that note, could you please share with me any sort of doctor’s note for yesterday?”

Employee: “What? No, [policy] [section] says that we don’t have to when it comes to surgeries.”

Me: “Oh, didn’t you read the update a few months ago?! It was sent to everyone and put on notice boards. The policy was changed in that regard.”

Employee: “Well, I don’t have anything!”

Me: “You must have had a letter, text message, or something from the hospital.”

Employee: “No, they didn’t send me anything.”

Me: “Well, I’m sorry, but you can request one normally free of charge. If not, I will have to mark you as absent and you won’t get paid.”

Employee: “What?! No, I need that money. This is unfair. I will go to HR.”

Me: “As you wish, but I don’t make the policy.”

He made a complaint; it went nowhere. He made all sorts of threats but nothing came of it. What was interesting was what happened way later: they called his home phone and his wife answered, confused as she thought he was at work. After much panicked searching for him, she found him at his girlfriend’s place. That’s why he was so keen to get out of work so often. The panic over pay was so that his wife didn’t notice the missing days’ wages.

He quit before I found out what happened to him.

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You Can’t Cheat Science!

, , , , , , , , , | Learning | August 24, 2021

When I was in grad school, one of my colleagues in my lab worked as a teaching assistant for a certain undergraduate class. Students in this class were notorious for cheating, and one of the ways they cheated was to collect their graded exams, change one of the answers, and submit it for a re-grade, claiming that that the teaching assistant had neglected to give them full credit for the answer.

My colleague was lamenting to some of us at lunch about how her student submitted a question for a re-grade, but she knew there was no way she had misgraded his answer to begin with.

Colleague: “I know he erased his answer and changed it. I mean, I graded fifty exams, so I don’t remember for sure, but there’s no way I wouldn’t have given that answer full credit. He has to be cheating!”

Me: “But you can’t prove it.”

Colleague: “No, and that’s what’s so frustrating.”

Me: “Can I see the paper?”

She showed me the paper. Right away, I noticed that there was a spot where the student’s pencil mark intersected with the teaching assistant’s red grading pen.

Colleague: “See? I can’t prove whether he wrote his answer before or after I graded the paper.”

Me: “We have microscopes.”

My colleague’s face lit up. She took the paper to one of our fancy lab microscopes, and even at ten times magnification, she could see the student’s pencil mark clearly ON TOP of her red pen. She took a picture using the microscope and submitted it to the professor, and the student eventually admitted to cheating. Science for the win.

This story is part of our Best Of August 2021 roundup!

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No Buying Your Way Out Of This One

, , , , , , , | Learning | August 20, 2021

[Student] is in our engineering course. He doesn’t listen to anything the lecturer says, doesn’t make notes, and is often late. Halfway through the year, he brags that he hasn’t done a single assignment himself. He either paid someone to write them or bought them online.

As someone who struggles daily, this infuriates me. Just because he has money, why should he have the easy life?!

After another bragging session a few weeks on, I speak to my professor, who tells me sadly that if there is no proof and the plagiarism isn’t evident, they can’t do anything about it. But “these people never get far.”

I take that as some meaningless platitude and try my best to avoid [Student] altogether.

The rest of the year, I struggle through the course getting average marks. [Student] gets 100% every time. Right at the end of the academic year, this happens:

Lecturer: “Good news, everyone! We have decided to scrap the last assignment.”

Cheers come from the class.

Lecturer: “But we will be having a test, instead.”

Cue lots of groans.

Lecturer: “Don’t worry. We devised a special one, just for this class.”

We all crammed like crazy. [Student] was particularly panicking. When we got to the test, it was incredibly easy, with basic answers from the coursework, just simple understanding questions. Everyone finished it in minutes… all apart from [Student].

He got a redo, failed, then had a retest date, and he failed that, too. He couldn’t pass without the exam and ended up repeating the whole year.

This story is part of our Best Of August 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of August 2021 roundup story!

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Time To Bite The Bullet, Part 4

, , , , , | Working | July 14, 2021

This is a story I heard from my senior about his boot camp sectionmate. One guy, having heard all sorts of horror stories about Potong Jalan, was desperate to avoid it. He somehow managed to get himself FIVE girlfriends, with the idea that, and I quote:

Sectionmate: “Even if one or two break up with me, I’ll still have three. No way after service I won’t have a girlfriend.”

I know, right? What a scumbag.

His plan flopped from the get-go, because all five girlfriends insisted on sending him off on his enlistment date, and when they all turned up, they realized he was five-timing them.

After the shouting match, [Sectionmate] went to his knees and begged.

Sectionmate: *Tearfully* “Please let me have all five of you.”

His harem wasn’t amused. Cue mass dumping.

Apparently, [Sectionmate] cried himself to sleep for his first week of boot camp. His platoon was all too busy laughing their guts out to console him. Even the officers were amused.

Time To Bite The Bullet, Part 3
Time To Bite The Bullet, Part 2
Time To Bite The Bullet

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Somebody’s Slope Is About To Become Much More Negative

, , , , , , | Learning | June 3, 2021

In my junior year of high school, I am put in a math class with a teacher fairly fresh out of school. She is by no means a bad teacher, but because she is new, she is a bit naive. For example, other math teachers usually create two similar but different versions of a test with different colors that alternate each row so that people can’t cheat, but she didn’t do this… at least at first.

It must have become obvious to her that people were sharing answers. On our fifth quiz, I am working on it and realize the girl next to me is copying my answers. Whatever, I don’t really care. But then, the graph on her quiz catches my eye and I realize that her slope is negative while mine is positive, and then it hits me: they’re different quizzes. I just let that ship sail and let her do what she wants.

Quiz scores come back and my classmate gets a zero while I get a perfect score. At parent-teacher conferences, we get to reminisce about that interaction, and I get to tell my teacher that I realized both that my classmate was cheating and that they were different tests and chose not to try to alert her, which tickled my teacher pink.

She started color-coding the versions after that, but she put a lot of cheaters to shame on the first one!

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