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Karma Can Be Deadly

, , , , , , | Working | September 14, 2021

Many years ago, I worked in an office that had an office food thief. I was occasionally a victim, maybe once every three or four weeks. I was in the habit of eating the same lunch every day, which included a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich.

One day, I realized that I was out of both grape jelly and peanut butter. No big deal, I thought, and I made a sandwich with cashew butter and strawberry preserves, instead. When lunchtime rolled around, I went to the break room only to find that my lunch bag was sitting on the counter and a couple of very upset human resources people were waiting for me.

Apparently, the food thief had an anaphylactic reaction to my sandwich and had to be carted off in an ambulance. HR started asking me questions about why I poisoned my lunch, but every question they asked was met with me asking what this had to do with my lunch and why they were tampering with my food.

Finally, it seemed as though they were ready to fire me. They demanded I explain myself. I pulled the untouched half of the sandwich out of the bag and took a big bite, then another, and finished it with a third bite.

Me: “There. I ate it. Maybe you should ask the thief why they’re stealing food when they obviously are allergic to either cashews or strawberries?”

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That Prank Is Just Cold

, , , , , | Working | September 14, 2021

We’re in the first hot days of summer, the air conditioning has not been activated yet, and the whole workforce is gasping. I’m visiting a different department — accounting.

Me: “How’s things?”

Accountant: *Puffing* “[My Name], make it cooler!”

Me: “Eh, you wish.” *Looking out of the window* “Did any of you know there’s revenue police just outside our gate?”

Accountant: *Gasps* “WHAT?!”

Me: *Grinning* “Gave you a shiver, did I?”

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This Lesson Really Blows

, , , , | Working | September 14, 2021

I have submitted a few stories about my father-in-law, including this one. This story is really about a gentleman that worked for my father-in-law.

Like many construction jobs, the one where this took place needed someone who was a demolitions expert in order to blow up some huge boulders that were in the way of a planned road and bridge. My father-in-law had a friend who served with him in Vietnam who was one of the best. He knew how to set the explosives to blow up the boulders in the safest way possible and the exact amount needed to do it on the first try.  

My father-in-law walked into the explosives shed to let his buddy know the site was cleared and ready for him to put out the C4 — an explosive that has the consistency of Play-Doh. On the desk was what looked like clay formed in the shape of animals like bears, cats, and dogs.  

Father-In-Law: “Ummm, [Friend], why have you molded the explosives in the shapes of animals?”

Friend: *In monotone* “It helps me deal.”

My father-in-law backed out of the shed and never went back in for the rest of the job. He never said anything else because the guy was great at what he did and had a perfect safety record. But every time something was blown up, my father-in-law couldn’t help but laugh a bit.

Related:
This Lesson Really Bites
This Lesson Really Stings, Part 3
This Lesson Really Stings, Part 2
This Lesson Really Stings

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‘Cause You’re An Intern, WA DA DA WAP WA DAAAAAA!

, , , , , , | Working | September 13, 2021

I recently graduated as a mature student. I am thirty-six but have always been somewhat baby-faced and so am often mistaken for being younger than I actually am. I manage to secure an internship at a company I used to work for prior to attending university but in a different department. I had left to attend university in order to switch careers.

A large part of my role is finding ways to improve our products, which sometimes means proposing new ways of doing things in other departments and asking for said departments’ input and cooperation.

Most of my coworkers are friendly and open to ideas and suggestions, and we get along great… except [Coworker #1]. She works as a supervisor in the same department I used to work in. I have no idea what I did, but she is always combative and hostile toward me. She’s fine with every other coworker except me for some reason. It’s important to note that [Coworker #1] did not work for the company when I worked there. She was hired sometime after I left.

During a meeting, I have to suggest some improvements and tweaks to [Coworker #1]’s department to help with a major change we are planning for one of our products. She doesn’t take it well. She tries to shoot down every proposal point I give her, saying things like, “That’s just not how it’s done,” or, “You can’t expect our department to do that.” Having worked in that department for years as a manager, my suggestions are always tailored to what her department can do. I should note it’s only MY proposals she is rejecting.

Eventually, we have to end the meeting. She says — obviously insincerely — that she will take what I’ve said “into consideration.”

We end the meeting. My manager says he’ll have a word with [Coworker #1]’s manager.

The next day, she storms up to my desk.

Me: “Oh, hi, [Coworker #1]. How can I—”

Coworker #1: “Who do you think you are, telling me how to run my department?”

Me: “That’s my job. We need everyone’s cooperation to—”

Coworker #1: “No. You’re an intern. You don’t get to tell anyone what to do. What do you know about having a real job? The classroom is nothing like the real world.”

Me: “Actually, I—”

Coworker #1: “Don’t you dare tell me how to do my job. You don’t know the first thing about it.”

Me: “Actually, I know a lot about [Department] because I used to work there. And not just work in it; I was a manager.”

Coworker #1: “Ugh. If you’re going to lie, at least make it believable.”

[Coworker #1] insults me a few more times about being some upstart student who doesn’t know her a*** from her elbow and then storms off again. 

The moment she leaves, I send my manager a message to let him know what happened. Her behaviour is reported to Human Resources, and she is disciplined and put on a warning. Thankfully, she is smart enough to leave me alone after that, but she is still combative in meetings, trying to shoot down every proposal I lay out more aggressively than before, but her manager overrides her.

Then, one day, I overhear her talking to [Coworker #2] in the break room.

Coworker #1: “I can’t believe they’re making us follow her stupid proposals. It’s not like she knows anything about [department].”

Coworker #2: “Oh, you mean [My Name]?”

Coworker #1: “Yeah.”

Coworker #2: “Oh, didn’t you know? She used to run [department] for years. She left to go to university.”

[Coworker #1] went silent.

You’d think that, after that, [Coworker #1] would finally see the light and apologise for the way she treated me, or at least stop being so hostile, but she doubled down and continued to be combative toward me in meetings, and she started to question every little thing I did. When my internship ended, I was hired permanently in the research and development team, which is exactly where I wanted to be. [Coworker #1], however, became even more hostile until she eventually left to work somewhere else. I can’t say that I miss her.

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No Nonsense, No Cut Corners, No Worries

, , , , , , , | Working | September 11, 2021

To put myself through college, I worked fraud protection for a retail store’s credit card. We would call out to people with suspicious charges or take calls from people we had blocked and basically try to confirm that the person on the other end was who they said they were and that their purchases were legitimate.

The job jumped between hectic times of non-stop calls and complaints, during peak hours, and extremely boring times later in the day leaving messages on answering machines. To try to alleviate the boredom a little, I made a game out of figuring out how to be as fast as possible, and I came up with lots of tricks to try to make myself a little faster.

At one point, our manager was dragged away on short notice to work on a new team, leaving us without a manager. We went a good five to seven months without a proper manager. The employee with the most experience on the floor acted as a quasi-manager when customers inevitably demanded to speak to one.

Eventually, we got a somewhat strict woman who had just retired from the military. Others complained about her no-nonsense approach, but I’ve had enough military friends to recognize it as pretty standard officer behavior and didn’t take offense. That being said, I did get an odd feeling that she didn’t like me whenever I talked to her, more than just her usual no-nonsense behavior, but too ambiguous for me to place exactly what it was or if I was imagining it or not.

A few months after she started working, I noticed this new manager standing a bit behind me. I glanced back, but she didn’t ask me for anything, so I went on with my business at first. When she didn’t move, eventually, I asked her if she needed anything, but she insisted she was fine and I should just go back to work. I tried to do so, though I couldn’t get past the odd feeling of being watched with my manager hovering behind me for so long, even if she claimed everything was okay.

A week later, one of my fellow employees was escorted out of the building. Management wouldn’t say exactly why she was escorted out, only that she wasn’t coming back. About the same time, the strange hostility I had been sensing from my manager disappeared; in fact, now she seemed to really like me, though I still didn’t know why.

That is, until our monthly team meeting came up. During that meeting, the new manager suggested that there were a number of steps she thought everyone should learn to help improve their speed at handling calls, and she suggested that I could potentially give tips to other employees. Eventually, she even had me do a brief twenty-minute visit with each of the slower team members to give suggestions for helping them to improve their rate at handling calls.

It was around then that I finally put together what had been happening. During the time we were unsupervised, two employees had noticeably higher metrics for their number of cases handled compared to everybody else: me and the woman who was escorted out of the building. I realized the manager likely suspected that both of us had taken advantage of the lack of managerial supervision to find a way to cheat the system to get our numbers high enough to earn rewards associated with high call volume.

In the case of the woman escorted out of the building, I’m quite sure she was “cheating.” She would publicly announce that she didn’t want to handle some of the more annoying — and thus slower to process — accounts and was going to skip them. In her defense, I don’t think she realized how much skipping them was artificially inflating her metrics or why that was such a bad thing. Surely she wouldn’t have been quite so blatant at admitting to everyone what she was doing if she had?

In my case, my high numbers were warranted. My tricks gave me a decent boost to the rate I could handle accounts in the later evenings. As an accidental side effect, my ability to make calls out so quickly resulted in my rarely getting the much slower to handle inbound calls during the evening, further inflating my metrics.  

I assume it was only after my new manager watched me working for a while that she saw what I was doing and generally decided that I had earned the numbers my metrics showed fairly. Thus, I got to stop being a suspect to her and instead became a manager’s pet that could help boost team productivity by sharing my “secrets” with the rest of the team.

I left only a few months after that to focus more on school work, and I got a much better paying job once I completed my degree, but after my many years’ — and managers’ — worth of work experience since then, I still occasionally find myself wishing that I could have that no-nonsense woman, who made sure that employees who met standards were rewarded and those that slacked off punished, as a manager again.

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