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While You’re At It, Pick Up A Board Stretcher

, , , , , | Working | January 3, 2022

I’m pretty hands-on. I spent a lot of my childhood taking things apart to see how they worked and putting them back together. So, when I had the opportunity to do some work experience in my uncle’s factory, I was excited.

The first few days were great, but they clearly ran out of things for me to do, so they put me with [Employee]. He was a guy in his fifties who didn’t seem to want me there and wouldn’t let me help with anything!

After a day or two of following him around, I asked if I could actually “do” anything.

Employee: “When I was your age, I would have killed to have this opportunity.”

Me: “I’m not complaining. I was just hoping to help. Anything, at all. I’ve swept up twice already.”

Employee: “Why don’t you go over the road and see if they have any tartan paint?”

Finally having someone useful to do, I headed over the road to the paint shop, looking for a paint pot. After looking for something like “tartan red,” I realised that he was wasting my time. There was no tartan paint; he wanted me to ask for a paint that dried in a tartan pattern.

Shop Worker: “Can I help?”

Me: “Oh, no, thanks.”

Shop Worker: “Was there anything you were looking for in particular?”

Me: “Oh, yes. But it doesn’t matter.”

Shop Worker: “There is another paint shop down the road.”

Me: “Hmm? Oh, yes. Thank you.”

Still annoyed, I went out and grabbed a drink and took a long lunch. I mean, he wasn’t expecting me back from his fool’s errand anytime soon, right? I took my time and got back to the factory right as my lunch ended.

My uncle was there, furious.

Uncle: “Oh, thank God! There you are. I thought I was going to have to ring your parents.”

Me: “I got some lunch.”

Uncle: “Oh, that’s fine, really. But when I heard what [Employee] did, I called the paint shop; they told me you’d left for the next one and that we couldn’t find you there. I was worried that you got lost. Or worse.”

Me: “Sorry.”

Uncle: “Don’t apologize. [Employee] is an idiot and shouldn’t have done that. I’ve already had strong words with him.”

Me: “Oh, okay. Well, what should I do now?”

He sent me to the shops to buy some doughnuts for everyone. Then, I spent the rest of my time with him. It was great and he gave me a load of cash as “pay” on the last day for all the team help. Apparently, [Employee] felt so bad he put most of it in himself.

There’s Just No Accounting For Some People’s Attitudes

, , , , , , | Working | January 3, 2022

A few months after I start my first ever job — basically data entry, filing, and answering the phones in an accounts office — the finance director decides that she doesn’t like my phone answering manner. Rather than explaining this to me, she hires someone to work alongside me who has far more experience in the role.

This achieves nothing. The new hire is a grumpy woman who refuses to answer the phone, as the company is short of cash and almost every call is a supplier screaming for payment. I end up covering pretty much the whole role until a new accountant is taken on to replace the previous one, who had been driven into a nervous breakdown by the finance director disagreeing with everything she did. He is far more involved in the day-to-day running of the office, has a backbone, and makes sure to divide the tasks up in a more even manner.

However, rather than completing her share of the tasks, my colleague does the bits she is assigned directly by the finance director and ignores pretty much anything else. As a result, a moderately strange set of direct debits end up not being posted for months. A car manufacturer was taking the net cost of each car sold to us on a single direct debit and the total of all the VAT on all invoices for one day as another one. So, every day, you had one more debit than invoices from exactly seven days earlier. That’s slightly weird but not impossible to track, unless you are my colleague.

Eventually, my boss gives up on getting the finance director’s pet to do her job and asks me to work with him to process all these ignored payments. We work on it continuously, tracking down missing invoices, and we eventually get almost everything completed. The fun starts when, after nearly two days of doing someone else’s job, I return to my own desk, next to my grumpy colleague. 

The moment I enter the main accounts office, she starts screaming at me.

Grumpy Colleague: “Where have you been for two days?! How dare you leave me to answer the phones all alone?!”

You know, the job she was hired for in the first place.

I turn around, walk back into my boss’s office next door, where he is sitting perhaps ten feet away from the screaming. The two rooms are connected by an open window through which my grumpy colleague has been able to see me working on her job beside her direct boss for the past two days.

Me: “I’m going home, or I’ll do something I’ll regret.”

Boss: *Laughs* “Go ahead and leave for the day.”

As I was heading out the door, I heard him loudly asking my colleague to come into his office for a quick word. She pretty much never spoke to me again, something that was definitely a benefit.

The company went into receivership a few months later; the family owning it was still spending the money faster than it could generate it. Guess who was the first person the receivers let go, and who was the only person on the accounts team to be kept on by any of the companies that bought parts of the old business? My old boss eventually joined me, and I worked with him for another decade after that.

You’re In A Real Pickle If You Can’t Use Your Own Brain

, , , | Right | January 1, 2022

When I arrived at the grocery store deli where I work, my coworker started to rant.

Coworker: “This woman b****ed me out because I didn’t put pickles on her sandwich! I told her she didn’t order any pickles. And she said, out of her own mouth, ‘You should’ve reminded me that I wanted pickles!’”

What A Bizarre Way To Quit

, , , , | Working | December 31, 2021

Boss: “Do you get along with [Employee]?”

Me: “Err, the guy from marketing? Yeah. I mean, I don’t dislike him, but we don’t see each other or work together.”

Boss: “Hmm… Okay.”

Me: “Is there an issue?”

Boss: “Oh, no. Well, not really. He made a bit of an offhand comment. Nothing to take any further, but maybe make a bit of an effort there.”

Me: “Okay, sure. Again, I don’t really even see the guy, but okay.”

I don’t really know what more to do. I try to say good morning to everyone a bit louder; otherwise, I’m pretty okay with everyone.

Then, my boss calls me into his office.

Boss: “[Employee] had made a complaint against you.”

Me: “What?! What for?”

Boss: “Homophobic remarks.”

Me: “Seriously? I didn’t even know the guy was gay.”

Boss: “Then, apparently, you flipped him off as you drove out the car park last week.”

Me: “I what? I don’t have a car. I take the bus.”

Boss: “So you don’t have…” *reading from the paper* “…a small red car with a nodding dog in the rear window.”

Me: “I don’t have any car, red or otherwise.”

Boss: “Okay, well, I’m glad I didn’t process your suspension paperwork this morning. Maybe go back to work and I will straighten it out.”

It took weeks to get an update. It turned out that [Employee] made everything up, even the bit about being gay! Someone told me that he was already planning on leaving and was trying to get some sort of payout or hush money. They threatened to fire him but he just handed in his notice there and then.

Driving Your Way Straight To A Write-Up

, , , , , | Working | December 30, 2021

I do a lot of travelling for work. I finally get the company to agree to give me a company car. It isn’t much, but it’s better than using my own or the dirty pool cars that no one cleans or bothers to fill up.

Coworker: “Hey, can I borrow your car?”

Me: “Are none of the pool cars available?”

Coworker: “No, I don’t think so.”

I look out the window.

Me: “Yes, they are; there are two of them.”

Coworker: “But yours one is nicer, and I am going to the customer, so I need to make a good impression.”

The only time [Coworker] goes to the customer is to drop something off, and even then, their car park is far from the building, so no one would even see what car she was in.

Me: “The pool cars are for general use. Company cars are only for when there are no other options.”

Coworker: “You’re just being selfish.”

Me: “It’s my car; I have to pay tax on it and keep it clean. Use the pool cars!”

[Coworker] storms off, only to return a few hours later with her manager.

Coworker: “I need your car.”

Me: “We’ve had this discussion. I told you no. Use the pool cars.”

Coworker: “Well, they’re all taken now, so you have to let me use yours!”

Manager: “I’ve checked and they are all taken. Please could she use yours?”

Me: “So, you waited hours until all the cars were gone so you had to use mine?! Real mature, [Coworker]. Well, the joke’s on you because I already had a customer visit planned. So, again, the answer’s no.”

Manager: *To [Coworker]* “That delivery needs to be done today. Did you really wait all morning?”

Coworker: *Stammering* “Well, no, I was busy.”

Manager: “Well, what are you going to do about it? You’ve had weeks to book something and now, the morning it’s needed, you’re completely unprepared!”

Me: “The old work van is in the car park.”

It’s old, rusty, and damp. The radio doesn’t work and the windows rattle. It’s really only used to take rubbish away.

Coworker: “I’m not using that!”

Manager: “Well, I would suggest you come up with an alternative quickly!”

[Coworker] refused to use the van, even though it was safe and fine to use. What she did was way worse: she lied to another member of staff to get them to drive her there in their car. She wouldn’t be insured, and because it was business use, they wouldn’t have been, either. She didn’t tell anyone or get permission to take them.

She got a written warning and hasn’t asked to use my car since.