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What In The Archaic Social Expectations?

, , , , , | Working | June 23, 2022

I am a married woman working in construction. Most of my coworkers are men. As such, most of my work interactions are with men. Human Resources rarely leaves the office, so when they do, you know something is up.

I was in the middle of a task when a well-dressed woman came up and tapped me on the shoulder.

Me: “Yes?”

Human Resources: “[My Name]? I need you to come with me.”

Me: “Okay.”

We go to the main office where the site foreman is waiting.

Foreman: “Okay, [My Name]. You’re not in any trouble.”

Human Resources: “I just need to verify some things with you.”

Me: “Okay.”

Human Resources: “You’re close with [Male Installer], correct?”

Me: “I guess so. We work together.”

Human Resources: “But you also see each other outside of work?”

Me: “We go to lunch. What is this about?”

Foreman: “Do you eat alone?”

Me: “No, I just told you we go to lunch. It’s cheaper to carpool everyone.”

Human Resources: “So, you eat together?”

Me: “Me and [Male Installer] specifically? No. We all eat together.”

Human Resources: *With a disbelieving tone* “Never?”

Me: “No. Why?”

Human Resources: “If you are involved with someone at work, you know you need to notify HR.”

Me: “You think I’m involved with [Male Installer]?”

Human Resources: “Are you?”

Me: “No! Where did you come up with that?”

Foreman: “There was an anonymous tip that you two were… spending more time together than others.”

Me: “I never hang out one-on-one with any men who aren’t my husband or family.”

Human Resources: “Your coworkers are 95% men and you never see any of them exclusively?”

Me: “No.”

Human Resources: “Is there a reason for that?”

Me: “Up until now, it seemed like a good plan to avoid stupid questions.”

Foreman: “[My Name]!”

Human Resources: “I am only following up on an issue that was brought to our attention. There is no reason for name-calling.”

Me: “I didn’t call any names. I said this questioning is stupid. Did you ask [Male Installer] or any of the other guys I eat with every day?”

Human Resources: “Let’s just stay on task.”

Me: *Standing up* “Have a nice day, [Human Resources].”

Foreman: “[My Name], please sit down. Just let us get through this and you can go back to work.”

Me: “Unless you’re going to ask every single man I work with, it seems like you are targeting and harassing me.”

Human Resources: “[My Name], we are—”

Me: “Asking a married woman if she’s having an affair, but not asking the men she is accused of being involved with. I got it.”

Human Resources: “We have information based on an anonymous tip.”

Me: “I would love to see what I’ve been doing that is so damning.”

Human Resources: “We do not have to provide anything.”

Me: “Either fire me for misconduct on the job site or let me go back to work.”

[Human Resources] glared at me while [Foreman] looked at the floor. I walked out and went back to work without another word. Nobody asked me about [Male Installer] again, and as far as I know, none of the men were asked about our alleged affairs, either. I never found out who submitted this anonymous tip, but I sure would like to.

Stupid, Stupider, Stupidest

, , , , , | Right Working | May 31, 2022

The foreman of the construction company that was fixing our parking lot hit the gas meter. There was a gas leak and we had to evacuate the building. Every employee was outside, there were no cars except employees’ in the lot, and there were cop cars and fire trucks.

That didn’t matter. A man went around the cars and trucks and headed to the store with a firefighter whistling and chasing him. He made it into the building before the firefighter got him out. I don’t think he got fined.

Oh, and while this was going down? The construction employees thought that this was a great time for their literal smoke break. You know, only a few feet away from a gas leak.

Someone Please Come Collect This Giant Tool

, , , | Working | CREDIT: pupperpaw | May 16, 2022

I was working as a cleaner and just-do-stuff person on a construction site and the boss man didn’t like me — because I was a young woman in a man’s world, I guess? Other workers were nice to me, especially [Coworker], who is important to the story. [Coworker] was a good man, nice, funny, and kind. An example of that is when [Coworker] took me under his wing when [Boss] denied me the ability to change my clothes anywhere else than his office. [Coworker] started to track when I came in for work and kept [Boss] busy while I changed my clothes.

This particular event happened when the building was close to finished. I was cleaning the inside of that building when I heard [Boss]’s voice.

Boss: “Hey, [My Name], why this place is looking like this?”

Me: *Looking around* “Like what?”

Boss: “Like this, there are tools all over the place. You should keep this place clean.”

Me: “This is a construction site. There are tools. Workers use them. What do you want me to do? Collect them?”

Boss: “Yes. I need you to collect all tools that are not in use right now.”

Me: “Umm… you want me to collect all tools? That are not in use right now? Like, take them outside to the storage, so people need to walk there to get them again?”

Boss: “What is your problem? Do what I say! Collect all of them and don’t do anything else until you do.”

Then, he walked off. Just walked off. First, I was mad, but then I thought why not? And so I started to collect ALL of the tools. You let go of your hammer to use a circular saw? I took your hammer and took it to storage. I even found a wheelbarrow that I used to take even more tools in one trip.

I took all of the tools to storage. I did keep different subcontractors’ tools in different piles so no tools were lost or mixed.

At one point, [Coworker] stopped me.

Coworker: *Very puzzled* “What are you doing? We use these tools.”

Me: “I know, and I’m sorry that this makes things hard for you, but [Boss] told me to collect all of the tools that are not in use right now. So I’m doing that.”

Coworker: “Why would he make you do that?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Coworker: “I’ll go to talk to him.”

He left and came back.

Coworker: “You didn’t lie. [Boss] just told me to let you do your job.”

Me: “Well then, I do my job.”

I took more tools to the storage. After an hour or two, other workers started to put up signs like “I use this” or “This is mine,” and of course, I didn’t take those tools again. I had to explain my surprising enthusiasm to steal people’s tools lots of times, but all of the workers were nice, so they just took more cardboard or paper and made more signs. Soon, [Boss] started to note the signs of the workers, and he wanted answers.

Boss: “What are these signs?”

Me: “Workers put them up.”

Boss: “Yeah, but why?”

Before I had time to answer, [Coworker] intervened:

Coworker: “You told [My Name] to collect all of the tools. She did it so well that we couldn’t keep up, so we put signs to mark the tools that we used.”

Boss: “Why you didn’t stop her?”

Coworker: “You told me not to.”

Me: “And because I have been running around gathering tools, I have not done anything else.”

Boss: “Why not?”

Me: “Because the tools are constantly coming back inside. And no one uses them.”

I got yelled at, but it was worth it.

This Lesson Really Breaks The Bank

, , , , , , | Working | May 10, 2022

I have submitted a few stories about my father-in-law, including this one. My father-in-law is a pretty smart man, especially when it comes to anything construction, and the company he has worked with for several decades really trusts him, although they have questioned his actions on a few occasions. This is a story of one of those times. 

[Father-In-Law]’s boss had him go across state lines to bid on a job. [Father-In-Law] really didn’t want to because it was a two-and-a-half-hour ride that he knew would be rough on the men in his crew. He got down there as the State representative for the Department of Transit was going over the job. Apparently, the job was partially completed. It was a rather long stretch of a new highway connecting two other highways. The problem was that the previous contractor had started the project at both ends with the plan to meet in the middle. Yeah, you already see where this is heading. They didn’t plan well, and the ends were at least a mile apart. So, instead of doing the right thing and fixing the problem, the company decided that since the state foolishly paid fully upfront, they would go out of business, thus providing no way for the state to get the money back.

The State representative made it clear that this job had to be done quickly. Some big politician had made this highway a big part of his campaign, and now his reputation was on the line. The representative said that whoever got this job had to complete it in thirty days.

Father-In-Law: “Excuse me, sir. This job won’t take thirty days. It will—”

At this point, the representative went on a cussing tirade that he knew what he was talking about and it WOULD take thirty days and that was all there is to it because they had to redo over twenty miles of the road.

My father-in-law decided then and there that he didn’t even want to fool with this guy. Plus, it was a long drive for his crew. He overbid the job. In construction, especially big jobs, if a company doesn’t want the job, they will still bid on it because it makes them look good. If they don’t want it, they will place a high enough bid that they know they will not get it. Well, turns out [Father-In-Law] didn’t bid high enough. His company was the lowest bid.

His boss and the owner of the company called my [Father-In-Law] in for a meeting.

Boss: “What were you thinking? We looked at this and we stand to lose over $200,000.”

Father-In-Law: “Lose? No, we will make a whole lot more then that.” *Turning to the owner* “Look. You’ve known me for a long, long time. Have I ever let you down? Do you trust me or not?”

Owner: “No, you haven’t. But this… I don’t see how you can do this.” *Pauses* “But I do trust you.”

Father-In-Law: “Okay, look at this contract.” *Points to a clause* “This is how we are going to make money.”

Boss: “With the early completion bonus?”

Most large construction contracts have what is called an Early Completion Bonus Clause. This is where they pay a certain amount of money for each day the job is completed ahead of schedule. These can vary from a few thousand to millions.

Father-In-Law: “With the clause that the State representative put in there himself of $20,000 a day for early completion. Now, I want to make a bet with you. If I make this company money, which I will, I get a week off and each member of my crew gets a week’s bonus pay.”

Owner: “You seem mighty sure of yourself. You got yourself a deal.”

[Father-In-Law] went back to his crew and filled them in on his plan to fix the problem. They were at first not very happy until he told them about the bonus. They went wholeheartedly into it. The crew worked themselves from sunup to sundown and some, like my [Father-In-Law], slept in their vehicles so they wouldn’t have to make the five-hour daily commute.

The job was completed… in eight days! [Father-In-Law] said the solution was easier than anyone had proposed if they had just bothered to look at the layout of the land. All that was required was a change in about a two-mile stretch. 

The State representative was thrilled until he got the bill for not only the $200,000 but the request for over $400,000 of Early Completion Bonus. The representative balked at it at first, but when presented with the contract HE HIMSELF had written, he had no choice but to authorize payment.

The owner was so thrilled that he gave the crew a full two weeks bonus and a week off paid. [Father-In-Law] spent his week off working on his old truck and taking the grandkids fishing.

This Lesson Really HURTS
This Lesson Really Speeds
This Lesson Really Blows
This Lesson Really Bites
This Lesson Really Stings, Part 3

The Cones Are The Least Of Their Worries

, , , , , , , , | Working | April 18, 2022

I work as a maintenance person at an office building and a while ago we had an incident involving a lot of flooding. The main road outside our building, our external parking lots, and our basement flooded.

Situated outside our building was a city project which required the redirection of traffic through the use of cones and upright mobile parking bollards similar to what we used in our own parking areas.

Prior to the flood, our building only had ten of these upright parking barriers and maybe twenty cones, but after it, we had more than thirty barriers and forty-five or so cones which had obviously washed in from the main road when our basement had consumed all of the water coming in. Of course, once we made this determination, I called the contractor responsible for the project outside.

Reception: “Hello? [Contract Company], how may I direct your call?”

Me: “Hi. I am looking for the person supervising the project over on [Roadway] and [Cross Street] about some company equipment that was pushed onto our property by the storms a few days ago.”

Reception: “Oh, no! We are so sorry about the inconvenience. Of course, we would like to retrieve anything that may have been sent your way. Let me connect you to [Foreman] so you can arrange that.”

There was a very clear line switch.

Foreman: “Hello?”

Me: “Hi. I am the facilities manager at [Business Center]. I just wanted to let you know that we have your cones and things that are missing.”

Foreman: “We aren’t missing any cones.”

Me: “Sorry, is this the project at [Roadway] and [Cross Street]?”

Foreman: “Yes.”

Me: “Then yes, we have your cones; they have your company name on them.”

Foreman: “We aren’t missing any cones.”

Me: “I… Maybe you haven’t noticed yet—”

Foreman: “Are you trying to tell me how to do my job?”

Me: “Uhh… no?”

Foreman: “We aren’t missing any cones, and we aren’t going to take responsibility for your trash.”

Me: “No, these are… these are obviously yours.”

Foreman: “We aren’t missing any cones.”

Me: “But you are, though.”

Foreman: “No, we aren’t.”

Me: “But you are. You’re probably missing a lot of them; we have almos—”

Foreman: “We. Aren’t. Missing. Any. Cones.”

Me: “Yes. You. Are.”

Foreman: “If you want to file a complaint, then file a complaint, but we aren’t going to take the blame for garbage near our sites.”

Me: “What is even happening right now?”

Foreman: “Sounds like you have a problem you are too lazy to solve yourself, so you’re blaming us for your lack of organization.”

Me: “And what assembly of words that I have said during this conversation brought you to that conclusion?”

Foreman: “We aren’t miss—”

I hung up the phone at this point and called the main office back.

Reception: “Hello?”

I filled the receptionist in on the conversation I had had with her foreman, and she was just as confused as I was. She decides to contact their safety guy and send him to the site, and she informed me that he would be at our building within the hour.

A short time later, I was watching the roads from our building and having a cup of coffee when I suddenly saw five or six police cars pulling up to the worksite. They appeared to talk to a number of people on the site and then led a man away from the worksite in handcuffs. Once the police were gone, a man separated himself from the construction site and started walking down our driveway.

I put my coffee down and took the building stairs two at a time on my way down to the lobby where security had already let the individual in.

Safety Man: “Are you [My Name]?”

Me: “Yes.”

Safety Man: “We gotta thank you for your call, man. Some serious s*** could have gone down if they hadn’t sent me over today.”

Me: “I saw the police cars. What happened?”

Safety Man: “He was drunk! Blew three times the legal limit to drive. The guys tell me he drove in sloshed and drank even more on site. We found open containers in the company truck and everything.”

Me: “Oh.”

Safety Man: “He threatened the crew; he told them he would file false reports against them if they called anyone.”

Me: “Oh, there are all kinds of problems here, huh?”

Safety Man: “You’re telling me. Now, what was your original call about?”

Me: “Oh, right, we have all of your missing cones.”

Safety Man: “We aren’t missing any cones.”

I found out that the cones had been replaced under the radar by another employee who thought he would be held responsible for not securing them. He didn’t tell his foreman about it because he was new and didn’t want to get into trouble. He got into considerably more trouble than he would have initially.