Out Of Africa

, , , , , | Working | January 21, 2019

This is when I was working on the sales floor of a large bookstore. I got along with my coworkers pretty well and we tended to chat during slow moments of the day. As it is with retail, we would abruptly stop those conversations when customers approached us needing something, and then we would continue it later on when we had another slow moment.

I had been discussing with my coworker her most recent — of many — trips to Tanzania and how she was eager to return, but we got busy and had to put the conversation on hold. After twenty or thirty minutes it died down again, and I happened to be walking by her and said, “So, when are you going back to Africa?” Then the phone rang and she turned her back to answer it before she had a chance to respond to me.

I turned around and saw a customer glaring at me. I asked if she needed any help and she very curtly said, “No, I don’t!”

It took me a moment to realize that the customer had just witnessed me — a white man — go up to my coworker — a black woman — for apparently no reason and ask her when she was going back to Africa without any other context. I’m sure she thought I was being a complete a**hole bigot!

I felt so embarrassed! But the woman left the store before I had a chance to explain it to her.

I later told my coworker about it and she thought it was funny. But she suggested I make sure to reference Tanzania directly in our future conversations about her trips.

Periodically Bloated

, , , , , | Working | January 21, 2019

(I’m having really bad back pain so I ask my Mum to drop a hot water bottle to work for me in the hope that it will help. I go down to the canteen there to fill it up and grab some chocolate while I’m there. Another woman is making tea at the same time and she sees my hot water bottle and chocolate.)

Worker: *sympathetically* “That time of the month, huh?”

(I laugh and gesture to my stomach.)

Worker:Wow! You get really bloated on your period. Does that not hurt?!”

Me: “Uh… I’m seven months pregnant!”

Worker: “I know they say you shouldn’t ask a woman if she’s pregnant, but I really should have copped that one, shouldn’t I? I’m so embarrassed!”

(For the next couple of weeks I seemed to pass the same woman a lot and she always jokingly pretended she didn’t notice I was pregnant. It really amused me.)

Innocent Until Proven Innocent

, , , , , | Legal | June 30, 2018

(The store I work for hires non-violent ex-cons. One of my coworkers was a thief who stole electronics. Recently, some electronics have gone missing. When reports started two weeks ago, he had been here for a few months already. Many have a feeling it’s him but don’t want to falsely accuse just based on past behavior. Our managers have said to keep an eye out and that valuables can be kept in a locked office; an internal investigation is under way and they’ll get the police involved when required. One coworker, however, goes straight up to the ex-thief.)

Coworker: “Hey! I know it’s you. There’s no way it can be anyone else. Hand that mp3 player over. You have no right to get into my bag!” *pushes*

Ex-Thief: “I swear, it’s really not me! Let them investigate.”

Coworker: “No one needs to. You’re a d*** thief and we all know that!”

Manager: “Hey! Calm down. We said we’d investigate. If he’s the thief then he’s going back to jail, but if not, a false accusation is hurtful.”

Coworker: “This is ridiculous. It. Is. Him. I’m calling the police right now.”

Ex-Thief: “You know what? Why not just call the police and get this over with?”

Me: “I think we all know he’s the likely suspect, but he’s innocent until proven guilty.”

Ex-Thief: “[Manager], how about I take a few days off work, perhaps?”

Manager: “I think that would be fine.”

Coworker: “No! He’s going to just leave and we’ll never see him or our missing stuff again!”

(In the end, the managers did an immediate search of the employee room. They found a missing cell phone wrapped in an eyeglass cloth… with the company name which someone remembered that the angry coworker had glasses from. Yes, HE turned out to be the actual thief, and it was proven by security camera later. His “missing” mp3 player turned out to be in his own bag. Police agreed.)

The Law Doesn’t Take Breaks So You Can

, , , , , | | Legal | June 9, 2018

(I’m scheduled as a supervisor for a future evening. Anyone scheduled to work that evening that is going to be working different hours than they are scheduled needs to get my approval first. I’ve also been short-tempered lately.)

Coworker #1: “Hey, can minors work double shifts?”

Me: “Legally you can work more than four hours if there is a break between them, I believe.”

Coworker #1: “Okay, because [Coworker #2] wants me to work his afternoon shift but I’m already working the shift immediately after it.”

Me: “So it wouldn’t work without having a break in between. Why doesn’t [Coworker #2] just swap with you?”

Coworker #1: “I don’t know, but I’ll be fine. As long as I can get something to eat I think I’ll be fine.”

Me: “I didn’t ask if you’ll be fine. Frankly, I like staying out of jail far more than I care about anything to do with you.”

Coworker #1: “Well, then… sorry for giving you trouble.”

Me: “It’s the whole legal bit I was mentioning earlier.”

Fraud, Sew It Seems

, , , | | Legal | June 7, 2018

(A manager from another store has called us to arrange a transfer of some sewing machines. She said the customer needs them urgently and that she would come over to pick them up in the afternoon. We also have a visit from our national manager around the same time. He sees the transfers waiting for collection.)

National Manager: “I’m going to [Store location] in the morning. I could take those with me now.”

Me: “[Manager] is on her way to collect them now. She has customers waiting for them this afternoon.”

(Oddly, the manager arrives close to closing time to pick them up. The next morning I get a phone call from the national manager, asking if the machines had been picked up.)

Me: “Yes, late yesterday, just before we closed. I had her sign our copy of the transfer.”

National Manager: “You’re sure about that?”

Me: “Yes.”

National Manager: “Okay, thanks. I’ll have to get back to you.”

(Later I find out that the national manager had noticed that there were no machines at the other store and that none had been sold. He asked the other manager, who denied that she had picked them up. She didn’t know that he had remote access to our CCTV and it clearly showed her collecting the machines. They discovered that she had done this for other transfers at different stores as well. She would wait a few weeks and call to say the items hadn’t arrived and then have the transfer cancelled. And she had swapped the signed copy for her unsigned copy when I was helping her carry the machines out. Thank goodness for cameras; otherwise it might have been me charged with theft.)

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