Your Own Personnel Hell

, , , , | Right | April 4, 2018

(I work as an apprentice for my father’s electrical contracting business in a small town in the rural South while in high school. It doesn’t take long to realize that the general contractors who subcontract with us often demand things of the electricians with attitudes they never would DREAM of using with my father. In one particular case we are experiencing a construction boom in the area and Dad doesn’t have enough electricians to fully man all of our worksites.)

General Contractor: “We had to make a change to the work order, and we need the electrical roughed in to the out-building by Monday when the drywallers come in.”

Electrician: “Can’t. We’re already scheduled on another project this weekend.”

General Contractor: “No, you will. The drywallers come first thing Monday morning, and that electrical will be roughed in.”

Electrician: “No, we won’t. We’re already working seven 12-hour days a week. We can’t drop everything because you made a work order change. We just don’t have the manpower for it.”

(He is absolutely right. I helped make the schedules myself. We’ve hired everyone in a 50-mile radius with any electrical experience at all and we are still barely making our obligations.)

General Contractor: *sneering* “That sounds like a personal problem.”

Me: “Actually, it’s a personnel problem.”

General Contractor: “…”

Me: “Two Ns and an E. Personnel. Easy words to confuse.”

General Contractor: “…”

Electrician: *tries not to laugh*

Me: “It means manpower. We don’t have the personnel. Personnel Problem.”

(Everyone on the job site tries not to laugh.)

General Contractor: *quietly turns around and walks away*

(To this day, I’m not sure if I got away with that because I was the boss’s son or because he couldn’t think of a reply.)

Needs To Stop Doing That

, , , , , | Working | February 9, 2018

(I’m riding my scooter down the street and I come to a construction zone. The road is closed off to one lane and the guy with the stop/slow sign is signalling for my side to stop so the cars going the other direction can go through. I stop, and when I do, the worker holding the sign starts walking toward me. I figure there’s either an issue he’s going to inform me of or he wants to comment on my bike.)

Worker: “Hey, did you need something?”

Me: “Uh… No?”

Worker: “Why’d you stop, then?”

(I wordlessly pointed to the stop sign he was holding in his hand. He looked up at it and just said, “…ooh!” in a tone that made it sound like he only just realized he had it in his hand.)

It Was A Dire Wolf Whistle

, , , , , , , | Working | December 16, 2017

I am a female engineer, and part of my job involves going to the various construction sites for my projects to inspect work and attend meetings. Please note that in my area, white hardhats are worn only by supervisors, inspectors, and engineers — basically anyone with authority on the site. All other personnel wear other coloured hardhats.

One day, I am walking up to the site dressed in regular “civilian” clothing. When I get to the gate, I stop and start rummaging in my bag to get out my construction gear. As I do so, a construction worker in a yellow hat sees me and starts wolf-whistling, trying to catch my eye. I don’t say anything, but pull out my white hat and plop it on my head. His eyes go wide, and I hear a quiet “Oh, s***!” as he scrambles out of sight.

I spent four hours on site, but didn’t see him for the rest of my visit.

The Color Of Incompetence

, , , , , | Working | December 8, 2017

I am draftsman in a construction company. I recently did a project modernizing a school. Since it was a public school, our client was the city’s planning department and the person in charge was a civil servant with degrees in architecture and engineering.

Right at the start, things got out of hand. After submitting our ground-plans I got a call from the civil servant. She explained to me that she didn’t like the colours in the plans. I politely explained to her that the colours were determined by a standard and that there was nothing I could do about it. Submitting plans not according to standard can be a huge hassle, since they can be rejected, and we’d have to start over with the approval process. Nevertheless, she insisted we change the colours, so I told her I’d talk to my boss about it.

He told me to propose to her that we’d change the colours under the condition that they pay the entire price for the planning twice as overhead. He hoped that this would make her back down, since that’s a lot of money for essentially ten minutes of work. The civil servant, however, immediately agreed to it.

From there on, it only went downhill. Turns out the architect had planned a server farm in a heritage-protected attic made out of extremely flammable 200-year-old wood. No way we could weld or solder up there without a 24/7 fire-watch person. We proposed a solution to the engineering lady: Using plastic tubes instead of the steel tubes, which would not only be cheaper but also last longer. The lady in charge immediately declined and said we should hire a fire-watch at their cost.

As you can imagine, the project soon went over budget and we had to stop working midway through, since there were no funds left. By then, we had installed all the tubes and cables, but the actual server farm and cooling units were still missing. Four years went by like that and the legal warranty for our work expired.

The city soon took note of that and pleaded to the state government for securing more funds. They got barely enough money to finish the project. However, engineering lady had another plan and used the money to extend the warranty for another four years… for a system not running. Always glad to see my tax dollars well spent.

Unfiltered Story #98654

, | Unfiltered | October 23, 2017

(Note: We’re finishing up painting the last room of a massive house. Our contract allows for weather issues, but asserts that payment for painting is due on a concrete date.

My boss is talking to the owners of a house we’re currently painting.)

Boss: Unfortunately until the weather clears up we can’t continue painting.

Owner 1: *suddenly enraged* What! Why?

Boss: Because we’re using a high gloss paint, we can’t paint under 18C. The paint becomes watery and-.

Owner 2: You’ve barely been here all week! This is completely unacceptable and unprofessional!

Boss: As I have stated in previous emails this week, a s have stated ma’am, the weather is making painting impossible. You can check on our paintcans if you want; it is clearly labelled that this paint cannot be used in cool weather. As soon as the weather clears up, we guarantee we’ll be back to finish off the last coat of your pantry, but the paint literally cannot be used until then.

Owner 2: Well I certainly won’t be paying a cent until you finish the job!

Boss: I understand your frustration ma’am, but we have a legally binding contract. The rain and cold weather is holding us up, but as soon as the weather clears up, we can finish off the last room.

Owner 1: *with a smug smile* Well, I hope the weather clears up too, because the rain and cold may be holding up our payment too.”

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