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This Just Isn’t Going To Cowork

, , , , | Romantic | June 23, 2017

(I am 17 and my coworker is old enough to be my mother. One day her son, who is a little older than I am, comes to bring her lunch while I’m working. The next day…)

Coworker: “So, [Son] had a lot of questions about you last night.”

Me: “Questions? All I did was let him in the door.”

Coworker: “He thought you were real pretty! Wanted to know if I had your number in my phone.”

Me: “Was he disappointed when you didn’t?”

Coworker: *laughing* “He was. If we didn’t work together I’d be rooting for you, though. I know you’re not crazy like his last girlfriend.”

(The next week her son is in the office again and waggles his eyebrows at me, walking in my direction. Suddenly, my coworker reaches up and grabs his shirt collar.)

Coworker: “[Son], I never thought I’d have to tell you this, but you are not allowed to date MY coworkers!”

Living In A La La Land

, , , , , | Working | June 22, 2017

(I’m conducting a disciplinary meeting with an employee who has numerous customer complaints, late punches, and missed days. His department head is there as my co-manager.)

Me: “I need you to understand that this meeting is your last warning. If you have any issues over the next month, we will be letting you go. Now, we need to look at these write ups one by one, and you will have a chance to discuss each one, okay?”

Employee: “No!”

Department Head: “Are you putting in your resignation?”

Employee: “No, you’re just doing it wrong! You’re supposed to say two nice things for every bad thing. You said something mean, so now you have to give me two compliments.”

Me: “I’m not saying anything mean; we are just reviewing the facts. Okay, the first write up was from your supervisor, and—”

Employee: “I’m not listening until both of you AND [Supervisor] say something nice!”

Department Head: “Okay, this isn’t the point of a disciplinary meeting—”

Employee: *putting hands over his ears* “LALALA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU! LALALA! NOT LISTENING! LALALA!”

(This keeps up for a minute while we sit shocked, then I turn and print out and sign the paperwork that terminates the employee. The whole time he has his hands over his ears and is yelling. He finally stops when security arrives.)

Employee: “You can’t fire me yet! You said I’d have a chance to explain my write ups! This isn’t fair!”

Me: *quietly to the department head* “Lalala, not listening.”

Hostile Beguile

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

I work in a grocery store deli. We hire in a new employee, [Coworker #1], who seems nice enough and is a good worker. Three weeks later, on a Friday, [Coworker #1] calls in say she’s going to be late because she has to pick up her kids from school. It’s only the two of us closing the department that night, and the last person from the morning shift has to leave when she was meant to arrive. I shrug it off, figuring I can handle a little while alone.

A half hour passes and I start to get nervous, and slightly frustrated. In my few years of being at this job, no one has ever been this late. A total of fifty minutes passes before [Coworker #1] comes in.

In concern, slight panic, and mild frustration, I ask what caused her to be so late. She only says she had to pick up her kids and leaves the immediate area to clock in. Satisfied, I return to work and wait for her to come back.

A half hour passes and [Coworker #1] hasn’t entered the department since she arrived. I ask  [Coworker #2] from the prepared food department, who also can work the deli, to go look for her while I take care of the customers at the deli.

Eventually, [Coworker #2] comes back and says she can’t find [Coworker #1]; she’s nowhere in the back. We decide to flag down a manager and ask what to do. He uses the speaker system to call her back to the department. Ten minutes pass; no [Coworker #1]. The three of us conclude she has left the store and not told anyone. The manager says not to worry. [Coworker #2] thankfully has [Coworker #1]’s number, so she texts [Coworker #1]. [Coworker #1] does not respond for the rest of the night. [Coworker #2] decides to help me close during the last two hours of my shift, as closing the department is something one shouldn’t have to do alone. I ready myself to talk to her about this calmly tomorrow.

Tomorrow rolls around, and one of the Managers in Charge, who are manager when the official store manager is not around, calls me into her office along with the Union Representative. The MIC tells me that [Coworker #1] has filed a complaint against me, saying that my question had created a ‘hostile work environment’ and [Coworker #1] went home because of this and has not shown up for her morning shift that day. She gives me a talk about how much hiring people costs, gets my side of the story, tells me that this will go to corporate and a full investigation may ensue, and then sends me back to work. [Coworker #2] helps me calm down, as the conversation made me upset. I got in trouble for asking one simple, understandable question.

I still hang on to hope I can talk to [Coworker #1], as we’re scheduled to work together the next night, Sunday night. Our busiest day.

Surprise, surprise, [Coworker #1] doesn’t show, so she was officially fired for having two ‘no-call, no-shows’ during her first ninety days. I was a nervous wreck that I was going to close alone on the busiest day of the week. [Coworker #2] was working in prepared foods again that day and told me directly that she would help me close up, and did so. Despite all of this happening, I’m still confused. Which one of us was in the wrong?

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.)