The Contrarian Vegetarian

, , , | Working | June 21, 2017

(The office where I started working a few months ago decides to have a corporate BBQ. I’ve been a vegetarian for over a decade and, by now, try to avoid barbecues. Even though it probably would’ve been nice for networking I decide not to go and tick that I can’t attend on the response card. My boss, a rather nice guy, asks me about this.)

Boss: “Hey, I just saw that you can’t attend the BBQ. Is it something with the date?”

Me: “Yeah, I’d really love to come but… well, I don’t eat meat and I really don’t want to inconvenience somebody. Besides I wouldn’t feel comfortable needing some kind of special treatment. However, I’d be happy to attend the next corporate event.”

Boss: “Oh, come on. It can’t be that bad?”

Me: *laughing* “Well, to be honest, from my experience I could come wearing a clown’s costume and only talk Swahili and still only be reluctantly talking about my diet the whole evening… only to be subsequently seen as a ‘missionizing vegetarian.’ It’s fine, though; I just don’t feel comfortable at BBQs. I don’t want anybody to feel like he has to justify why he’s eating meat and I don’t want to justify myself. Sadly, BBQs provoke a massive amount of both.”

Boss: *reassuring* “Nonsense! It will be fine. Just write that you are vegetarian on the response card and I’ll let [Coworker who organizes the food] know. She’ll organize something.”

(I comply and, after a while, even start looking forward to the BBQ. The day rolls around and, when they call for dinner, I start looking around only to find that there’s nothing marked as vegetarian and, in fact, even the salads all have bacon in them. I decide to ask said coworker since I think she might have stored the vegetarian options separately.)

Me: “Hi, [Coworker]. Ehhm, did [Boss] talk to you? I can’t find a vegetarian meal.”

Coworker: *snarky* “He did. And that’s because there’s no vegetarian option. Honestly, I’m sick and tired of you vegetarians always trying to force your beliefs on us normal people! It’s unfriendly and unnatural! You’ll eat meat or leave!”

(The irony was somehow lost on her. I apologized to my boss and left.)

Common Sense Not Included

, , , , , | Working | June 21, 2017

(I work in the souvenir shop at a museum. Aside from sales, our responsibility is to be knowledgeable of everything inside the museum, both exhibits and the products we are selling, which isn’t hard if you make the effort. Generally, everyone I work with is enthused by the museum theme and knows a lot about it but in the last year or so my line manager has been hiring people don’t know anything about what we do and don’t want to learn, which is pushing down targets and satisfaction. One day one of the recent hires and I are serving a group of people at the tills and I overhear the following exchange.)

Coworker: “Hi, how can I help?”

(Coworker begins ringing through the customer’s goods.)

Customer: “My daughter wants to know if she needs to buy batteries for this products or if they are included?”

Coworker: “I don’t know; I’ll just ask my colleague.”

(Coworker refuses to acknowledge large obvious ‘batteries not included’ signage.)

Coworker: *to Customer* “I’m so sorry, I’ve only been here three months!”

Customer: “What do you mean? You work in a toy shop don’t you?”

Me: *pointing to battery information signage* “[Coworker], it’s right here. Batteries not included.” *to Customer* “Did you want to by some batteries with this today?”

Customer: “Yes, please!”

(I hand batteries to my coworker; the transaction goes through and the customer departs.)

Coworker: *to me* “Wow, you’re really brainy. How do you know so much about products?!”

Me: “We’re supposed to. It’s our job.”

(This isn’t the only example. Another one of our coworkers who used to work with her has been working with us for over a year. When I supervise them I frequently get tales about management ‘being mean’ to them; not allowing them to have access to drinking water, for example. It turns out management caught both of them leaving open cups of drinking water right near electricity outlets, putting the whole workplace at risk, and they construed this as an attempt to deny them human rights. I shouldn’t have had to explain the risk to 30-somethings but not only did they not get it, they told me it was ridiculous.)

They Were Asking For It With Comic Sans

, , , , , | Working | June 20, 2017

(I work in a small print and design shop inside of an office supply store. For whatever reason, from the day I was hired, the supervisor of the shop immediately hated me. No one else at the location has a problem, and I even built a customer base of folks that will specifically request me when they come in. One such client is employed at the church down the street, and needs help setting up a basic newsletter design for weekly printing. After a week of work and numerous proofs, the client is happy with how things are progressing. I have two days off, and when I come back in, I see the newsletter is changed around entirely. Since none of the other shop employees would have touched a customer’s file without the customer’s permission, I assume the customer requested these changes while I was gone. I review the changes, send an updated proof to the client, and make my recommendations, as usual. Some of the recommendations include advising AGAINST some of the changes, like switching random blocks of text to Comic Sans, among others. Later that day…)

Supervisor: “Would you care to explain to me what’s going on here?!”

(She angrily shoves a sheet of paper at me, which I see is a printed copy of the email I sent to the client.)

Me: “Uh, it’s my recommendation to [Client] for the most recent version of her newsletter.”

Supervisor: “I’M the one who made those changes and I don’t appreciate you trash talking me to other customers! Those were just ideas I had for the newsletter and you didn’t need to send them to her!”

(She storms off and interrupts the store manager in her office, to show her the printed email and complain about me. The two spend some time in the office, and then the supervisor storms out. She won’t look at me or talk to me for the rest of the day. I go find the store manager when I have a spare moment.)

Me: “So… what on earth is up with [Supervisor]?”

Manager: “She brought me a copy of that email you sent and accused you of talking s*** about her to customers. I pointed out that you never once mentioned her name in that email, AND that I have a degree in graphic design and everything you recommended to the customer is legitimate. Mostly, I think she is pissed off that we both disagreed with her choices. I told her you handled the whole situation in a very professional way and that I didn’t see anything wrong with it.”

Me: “Wow.”

Manager: “You know, when [Other Employee] said he thought [Supervisor] was jealous of you, I didn’t really believe him. But now? Now I see it.”

When There’s Been A Murder, Who You Gonna Call?

, , , , , | Working | June 19, 2017

(I work in the fresh cut area in produce. We also make guacamole, which is one of our most popular items. My coworker is on her fourth batch of the day when the manager walks in and asks how it’s going.)

Coworker: “I have so much guac on my apron, it looks like I murdered Slimer!”

A Spreadsheet As Empty As Their Brain

, , , , | Working | June 18, 2017

(A colleague contacts me on Instant Messenger to ask about project progress. I need some background so I ask him for the project spreadsheet.)

Colleague: “It’s on [sharelink].”

(I try it out and I don’t have access to that sharelink. So I ask him to email it to me.)

Colleague: “Can’t email it to you; it’s too big.”

(Our mailboxes are limited to handling files of 5 megabytes. That is a h*** of a large spreadsheet if it’s bigger than 5 megabytes, considering the project has barely started.)

Colleague: “Okay, I’ve got access to that sharelink for you.”

(I access it, and see indeed, the file is 9 megabytes big. I can’t open it in situ, so I download it and open it locally. I find that it has one active sheet that consists of 75 lines of actual data, and another 1.7 million blank lines (blank, that is, apart from fancy formatting.)

Me: “Why is this file 9 megabytes big? Why has it got 1.7 million blank lines in it? The f*** are we wasting so much computer space? This is ridiculous.”

Colleague: “Well, if you’re so stupid as to be confused by a simple thing as spreadsheet structure, maybe you need to go on a training course to teach you how to use computers. I have a meeting to go to now. Once you have sorted yourself out and learned how we do things round here, I will contact you again.”

Me: “No worries.”

(I let him get on with it. He never got back in touch with me to ask my advice, which was all well and good, as I was able to spend the rest of the day, uninterrupted, fulfilling my role as technical design authority and performing a code quality review of his (not particularly high quality) code.)

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