Won’t Sit Idly By

, , , , , , , | Working | October 3, 2018

(Boston is recovering from an intense storm around April. Now that snow from the blizzard is finally gone, the city starts working on the roads. Among the work is sewer assessment, which means fixing anything that’s damaged and giving what’s not a cleaning. The city distributes flyers through the mail to notify us of times when work will be done in our area over the next month or so, asking that we minimize water, and that any strange smell emanating from our faucets and toilets is normal and not hazardous. On the day my neighborhood is scheduled for this work, I’m up at six am, making myself breakfast as usual when I hear the sound of an idle truck and workers yelling. Since local legislation states work can’t begin until nine am, this is already unusual. What follows doubles down on that.)

Worker #1: “We’re all set up? When’s [Person] getting here?”

Worker #2: “Should be here around seven.”

Worker #1: “What’ll we do until then?”

(Rather than a verbal answer, the sound of the idle engine is now mixed with the sound of chain links rattling. I look out the window and confirm my suspicions: these workers, two black men that are easily twice as jolly as Santa are pulling on my fence to help them as they limber up for the job ahead. I step outside.)

Me: “Get off the fence!”

Worker #1: “Relax! It’s a fence!”

Me: “Fences aren’t meant to hold your weight! Now, get off it and turn your truck off!”

Worker #2: “Fine! Jeez!”

(They both step back and release the fence, and proceed to stand there waiting.)

Me: “The truck?”

Worker #1: “It’s fine!”

Me: “You’re burning gas right now. Turn it off!”

Worker #2: “It’s no problem. It’s got one of those engines that doesn’t use much fuel.”

Me: “It’s not about fuel. It’s about air quality and the law. To help reduce pollution, Massachusetts passed an Anti-Idling Law which prohibits vehicles from sitting idle for more than five minutes without just cause.”

(Both of their hands launch above their heads while grinning.)

Worker #1: “DON’T SHOOT! DON’T SHOOT! OUR HANDS ARE UP! DON’T SHOOT!”

Me: “What the f*** are you talking about?”

Worker #2: “You’re a white guy talking like a cop! We don’t want to get shot!”

(I have no response. I do, however, report the idle engine — which miraculously turns off just before the police drive up — and file a complaint with the city about the workers showing up incredibly early, attacking my fence, leaving their engines idle, and harassing me when I try to protect my property, also being sure to mention, “If my fence had broken and they’d gotten hurt, they’d have sued me for their medical bills.” The following week, the crew is back, but they park next to my neighbor’s house, instead. My neighbor is not only a friend, but also very old and very gossipy. When I come back from work at around 3:30, he emerges from his backyard, where his wife is also sitting, and I hear a distinct chirping.)

Me: “Is your alarm going off?”

Neighbor: *nodding* “They parked their truck next to my vent. The exhaust fumes are leaking into my house and setting off the monoxide alarm, and they won’t move the truck.”

(I once again go out front and talk to these workers, and I find a different crew member with a monitor connected to a large pipe leading down into the sewer.)

Me: “So, why is your truck idle?”

Worker #3: “We’ve got a camera down in the sewer taking magnified pictures to see if there’s anything we can’t see. We need the truck to power it.”

Me: “Oh. So, where’s the cord connecting it to the truck?”

Worker #3: “What?”

Me: “The cord. If it’s getting power from the truck, they have to be connected.”

Worker #3: “…”

Me: “Turn the truck off and apologize before I get inside, or I’m calling the police again to report an idle engine and reckless endangerment.”

Worker #3: “‘Reckless endangerment’?”

Me: “You filled the home of two senior citizens with carbon monoxide — endangering their lives — and you refused to turn off your engine or move your truck when he confronted you about it. And even with your equipment running, the alarm is still audible from here.”

(Thankfully, that works. Even so, I invite my neighbor over to help file another complaint with the company. The following week, the team is back on the job. At this point, I am just curious to know when the work will be over.)

Me: “So, what’s the…”

Worker #4: “Shut up!”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Worker #4: “Our union rep told us you’re a troublemaker and we’re not supposed to talk to you! So shut up!”

No So Street(sign) Smart

, , , , , , , | Legal | June 28, 2018

(My husband works for a volunteer organization that builds homes for people in need. They have a lot of problems with a neighbor who doesn’t want any of their trucks parked — legally — on the public street in front of his house. Despite the fact that he has a long driveway and a garage, he has somehow found a way to put up “No Parking” signs on his side of the street AND the opposite side of the street.)

Volunteer: “Wow, that was a long walk! I had to park all the way down the block and walk here.”

Husband: “Yeah… The neighbor across the street put up these ‘No Parking’ signs, so we are trying to work around it, even though we have to lug all of this construction equipment down the street.”

Volunteer: “Seriously?” *she inspects a sign, and makes a quick phone call* “These are not regulation signs.”

Husband: “What?”

Volunteer: “I work for the county office. The city has to put those up, and there is no record a ‘No Parking’ sign on this street.”

(She then proceeds to call the non-emergency police phone number, and by lunch an officer comes by to write him a ticket and to take the signs down.)

Neighbor: “I don’t want to look at those f****** trucks all day! You can’t make me take my signs down!”

Officer: “Sir, you can either take the signs down, or I can take them down and take you to the station.”

(Eventually, the neighbor took the signs down, glaring at the volunteers the whole time. I feel sorry for the family that will eventually have to put up with this guy!)

To Sleep, Perchance To Die

, , , , , | Working | May 15, 2018

At the company I work for, we have to travel a lot to different construction sites. On my first day, they told me not to fall asleep in the passenger seat during those rides.

A couple of weeks later I was traveling with a very quiet coworker after having a terrible night. Naturally, I fell asleep during the two-hour ride, only to be suddenly awoken by loud noises. My coworker was screaming in horror, and there was a truck only a meter in front of our car. I was sure we were still driving and a deadly crash was imminent… until my coworker started laughing.

Turns out, as soon as he noticed me sleeping, my coworker pulled out at the next parking lot, searched for a truck, parked behind it, and put the car in neutral. Then he honked, slammed the gas pedal, and started screaming.

I mentioned this to another coworker the next day, and he told me this guy does that to everyone who falls asleep in his car. “If he can’t sleep during work hours, the passenger won’t, either.” One coworker even had a nervous breakdown because of this. I get why. It’s now over 20 years later, and I still can’t sleep while being in a car.

The Drive To Scam

, , , , | Working | May 13, 2018

(We have just had a house built A lot of mistakes were made in the process. Broken bricks were used in the front wall of the house. Windows were scratched, and then the frames damaged while replacing the glass. We get a bill for the laying of pipes along our very long driveway, pipes that were installed and paid for, by us, years before. The only thing that needed to happen was for them to be connected to the water mains across the road. The company is threatening us with legal action if we don’t pay, as they have fulfilled their part of the project by getting the house completed and liveable by the contracted time period. The only thing that needs doing is to turn on the water, gas, and power. It’s now gone over the final payment deadline.)

Company: “But you have to pay; we’ve got a bill here from the contractor for the work.”

Me: “That’s funny, because I have a receipt right here from when we had the work done years ago.”

Company: “The contractors have said that they laid the water pipes themselves, down your whole driveway.”

Me: “I’d like to know how they laid twenty metres of water pipes three feet under the driveway without actually digging up the driveway.”

(After a few weeks, they finally send their inspector out.)

Inspector: “I thought I’d let you know that, as a courtesy, we are taking the laying of pipes off your bill.”

Me: “As a courtesy?”

Inspector: “Yes, for the sake of good customer relations. You don’t need to tell anyone else about this, either.”

(The next day was finally the day when the power, gas, and water were to be turned on. It was then discovered that the grounding wire for the electricity had been attached to the gas pipe instead of the proper pipe. And when the water meter was installed, they found that it wasn’t even connected to the mains. So much for the contractors doing the work in the first place. And yes, we told everyone we knew not to go with this company.)

Couldn’t Just Come Out And Say That

, , , , | Working | April 30, 2018

(I work with two guys who have a compulsion to always be right. Whatever you say, whether logic is with you or not, they’re right, and you’re wrong. We work at height a lot.)

Coworker: “We need some eye bolts to tie the ladder to when we’re going on that roof next week.”

Me: “I’ll get some at the weekend.”

(Monday rolls by.)

Me: “I got the eye bolts. They didn’t have the ones for the plastic plugs, so I got all metal, instead.”

Coworker: “They’re not big enough.”

Me: *I’ve read half a page ahead* “That’s okay. Here. I got the next two sizes up, as well.”

Coworker: “They’re… too strong.”

Me: “You’re going to be 30 feet in the air, and these eye bolts could save your life if something went wrong, and they’re too strong?”

(Pause:)

Coworker: “I already bought some.”

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