Read The Room… And The Sign

, , , , , | Working | February 22, 2021

Our company has been bought up by another company. As of January 1, 2021, we’ll get all new systems, so they start training us “early” — in late November 2020. This means that some of us have a LOT of training to go through, at least two hours twice per week for different software and systems.

Due to the health crisis, the training takes place via video call. My colleagues next door, both adult women in their forties or fifties, have by far the most training scheduled. They put up a sign at their door that says, “Online training from [time] to [time]. Do not disturb!” every time they are in a video call.

Today, another colleague — male, in his early forties — comes into my office.

Colleague: “Hey, do the girls next door have remote training right now?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Colleague: “There’s a sign on their door.”

Me: “Does it say that they have online training and to please not disturb?”

Colleague: “Yeah.”

Me: “…”

Colleague: “Should I go in and ask?”

I’m dumbfounded by this amount of ignorance, so I tell him the truth and decide to give him a little hint.

Me: “You shouldn’t. But if you tried, you probably wouldn’t get in anyway. They locked their door from the inside during yesterday’s training because too many people ignored the sign.”

Colleague: “What?! They locked their door yesterday?”

Me: “Yes.”

Colleague: “But why?”

Me: “Because… too many people ignored the sign that asked them not to be disturbed.”

Colleague: “Oh. So they locked their door so nobody would get in?”

He then left. I don’t know if he may have tried to go in there anyway.

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I’m An Idiot; Please Don’t Advise

, , , , , | Working | February 22, 2021

I’ve held a bit of a mantra for getting on in life: work hard and don’t make your boss’s life hard.

That is, don’t be the one that he has to chase; get the stuff he thinks is important done as a priority. That way, when job losses and promotions come up, your name will be associated with the right impression.

I’m working with a guy that is a bit younger than me. He is good at what he does and wants to climb the ladder as soon as possible. The problem is that he does it all the wrong way.

He is constantly one or two minutes late. While it’s not a big deal, his name is on the list of “worst offenders” that all the management sees. He constantly parks like an idiot, taking up two spaces or even blocking people in, so he’s seen as not a “team player” by many. And he is always scruffy; it’s fine for his job, but it is hard to picture him in a senior position looking like that. 

I try to talk to him and perhaps give him some advice.

Coworker: “You don’t know what you’re talking about. [Boss] likes me and I’m good at my job.”

Me: “Yes, you are, but remember in these situations that it is often other people pulling the strings and making those decisions.”

Coworker: *Defensively* “What do you know?”

Me: “Look. It’s just friendly advice; you don’t have to take it. But remember, I used to do [Boss]’s job in another company, so I know how they think.”

Coworker: “Yeah, and look at you now. Clearly knew what you were doing, to be demoted!”

I took my current job as the last one made me redundant, I took this role as it was a shorter commute and we just had our second child. However, [Coworker] didn’t deserve the explanation, so I just stopped trying to help him and walked away.

Months later, our boss took a long break to deal with personal issues and I was asked to step in temporarily. What my coworker didn’t know was that they knew our boss wasn’t coming back and this was like a probation period for me. Six months later, I had the job in full, and [Coworker] was now working for me. I gave him plenty of opportunities to develop and tried to help him many more times, but he fought me all the way.

He transferred out of the department and was let go shortly after for gross misconduct, backed up with poor attendance and a poor attitude. You can’t help them all.

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Being A Nerd Pays Off

, , , | Working | February 22, 2021

I work in an office and we have an issue with a client. We haven’t received a payment, so he sends me proof of payment. I contact the bank, but they can’t find the transaction listed. 

When I talk about it during a coffee break, a coworker I barely know and who just started asks if she can see the proof of payment. I don’t know what she can do with it, but since it’s a very large sum, I grasp every straw I can get. 

She takes one look at it, and within ten seconds:

Coworker: “This has been faked.”

Me: “What? Huh? What do you mean?!”

Coworker: “This screenshot has been edited.”

She looks nervous and uneasy, but she points at the big bar on the top.

Coworker: “This bar is missing a few pixels; here, it doesn’t match up. This description is a different font from the rest of the text here. And this zero is slightly lower than the other numbers. There’s also a slightly different hue of white here and here. If you move a bit over here, you can see a few digital brush strokes.”

Me: *Baffled* “How did you spot that?!”

Coworker: “I… ehm… I used to do art on the computer. Pixel art… eh, game sprites. Just for fun. It’s kind of… my thing.”

I don’t get why she was embarrassed but I didn’t press that any further. She saved us a lot of money!

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Someone’s Gonna Catch It

, , , , , , | Working | February 19, 2021

It’s a really busy Saturday, but we’re in a slow period at the moment. Five of my staff have headsets on, including me, a new cashier, and our security guard.

Cashier: “Hey, [My Name], I have a question for you.”

Me: “Go for it.”

Cashier: “Is your refrigerator running?”

Me: *Pauses* “If you have enough time up there to be making jokes, then you’re not busy enough, and I can fix that for you.”

There’s a moment of silence as this is pondered.

Security: “Nope, we’re good. He’s got lots of stuff to do up here.”

He doesn’t release the talk button in time and I hear his last sentence.

Security: “You’re an idiot. I told you that wouldn’t work on her.”

I couldn’t stop laughing and I got a bunch of weird looks from the customers.

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Show Your Employees What They Mean To You

, , , , , | Working | February 18, 2021

It’s the summer of 2005 and I have been at my job for ten years. Three other guys and I rotate twenty-four-seven, immediately supervising six engineers maintaining machinery within a factory. In addition, when no senior management are on site — weekends and nights — we are regarded as the senior people. I am happy in my job, and I know I am well respected by all in the factory for what I do. We all report directly to the engineering manager, [Boss].

I go into work for my first night shift after some rostered time off, to handover from my colleague [Coworker], who is also a good friend. He seems happy and quite excited.

Me: “Hi, [Coworker], you’re looking in fine form. I assume you’re looking forward to some time off?”

Coworker: “Hey, [My Name], I am. But I also have some great news. I’m starting next month as engineering manager. Big jump in pay. No more shift work. Weekends to myself.”

Me: “That is excellent news. Where are you moving to?”

I am genuinely pleased for him as I was considering a similar career move, also.

Coworker: *Looking a bit bewildered* “I’m staying here. [Boss] has created a new position as he’s getting more group responsibility, and he offered me the job.”

Me: “Well, congratulations, anyway.”

We finish the handover and I wish him well once more. As the night shift wears on, I become more and more annoyed that I was not given the opportunity to apply for the job also. I hold no grudge against [Coworker] at all but am seriously pissed off. The next opportunity, when I am in on a day shift, I go to [Boss] to explain how I feel.

Boss: “Hi, [My Name]. I know that both you and [Coworker] would be ideal for the position, but you are so good at what you do that I cannot afford to lose you from the shift pattern.”

Me: *Baffled* “So, [Boss], you’re saying that I have no chance to advance my career from my current position because I’m so good at what I do?”

Boss: “That’s exactly what I’m saying.”

Me: “If that’s the case, how about a pay rise to reflect how important you feel I am to the company?”

Boss: “Well, ordinarily, that might be easy to do. The problem I have is that there is no more budget for rises as the money has gone to the salary for [Coworker]’s new position.”

[Boss] could not understand why I was so disappointed as he thought I was so happy in my job. The next time I saw [Boss] was to hand in my months’ notice. He seemed genuinely surprised that I was leaving and asked what he could do to make me stay. I suggested giving me the job that he had given [Coworker] or a pay rise. He could do neither.

I left four weeks later and took a very similar job to [Coworker]’s but for £5,000 per year more. Today marks fifteen years in my present job, where my career has moved onward considerably, and I now hold a very responsible position in a company that has a Europe-wide presence and still have a huge amount of respect from everyone here for the work that I do.

The irony is that, had I been given the opportunity to interview for the position in 2005, and not gotten the job, I almost certainly would have stayed for another couple of years at least.

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