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They Don’t HAVE To Give You Free Anything

, , , , , | Right Working | April 21, 2022

There was a [Convenience Store] by a hospital that gave free coffee and fountain drinks to EMS, fire personnel, police, and hospital staff on duty. I had a coworker whose ambulance sat at least two miles north from this [Convenience Store] but always managed to find his way to this particular one.

Me: “Isn’t the [Convenience Store] at [Location] closer to your unit?”

Coworker: “Yes, but I don’t want to go there. I don’t want to pay a dollar for coffee!”

He would literally have a fit if he couldn’t go there during his shift, and he’d spend the whole time complaining about how the [Convenience Store] closest to him should be giving him free coffee.

What Is WRONG With People?!

, , , , | Working | April 21, 2022

I work in a library. For several years, our “Sunshine Committee” organized a Secret Valentine’s program. February was usually grim and gray; we were all getting some cabin fever and getting on each other’s nerves, so we actually looked forward to a little bit of fun in the miserable midwinter.

Those participating drew names. The idea was that you could, for the seven days preceding Valentine’s Day, gift your Valentine with little remembrances, like a chocolate bar here, a note pad with funny sayings there… or maybe you just found a book on the shelf that your coworker might like, and you left it on the desk with a note.

Or you could wait until the last day and do one big fun presentation. There was also a small social tea so that gifters could identify themselves. It was fun, and people got super creative to stay within the (very generous for the time) ten-dollar budget.

People got very clever with gifts. One person walked in to find a display made up entirely of books whose titles featured his first name. Another had a special day announced during which people were encouraged to give her a smile. It was fun and it boosted spirits.

So, naturally, someone had to ruin it all.

Things began to go downhill in the fourth year of the event.

First, a young page who was participating for the first time got stiffed by her Valentine who had been leaving notes hinting at a big surprise at the end. And the big surprise was that… there was no surprise. Nothing. The kid was crushed, so the staff in her department quickly put together a “surprise” out of whatever they had received and whatever a few could find at the pharmacy across the street.

A female department head received a silk nightie, along with a collection of massage oils and, um, lubricants. And it was clear that the nightie had been worn at least once, as it gave off the unmistakable aroma of perfume and Eau de body sweat. She was too embarrassed to complain, but one of her employees went to the Sunshine Committee and suggested they put some kind of rules about the genre of gift to be given.

The next year, someone still refused to listen to the “no gifts that might be perceived as harassment” regulation. Another female employee received a type of panty usually gifted to a bride at a shower, body oils, and a hotel room key. Given that the key came from a hotel in a city where a certain oddball staff member had been staying for a week, everyone was pretty sure who was responsible, but the committee didn’t pursue it.

The next year, there was another more explicit description of what not to give. They thought they had covered all the bases, but they were wrong.

Another department head received a huge hanging plant, which was nice. But the item that came with it gave everyone pause: a framed picture of a bleeding human heart with the caption, “I’d kill for you.”

And thus ended a practice that had previously been nothing more than a fun way to bond with each other during a cold winter month. There is always someone out there looking to spoil what was meant to be a way to spread a little sunshine in dark places.

Just Do Your Own Job!

, , , , , | Working | April 19, 2022

My former manager is a real peach. Pardon my Southern. Fortunately, she is not my manager any longer, nor is she actually allowed to ask me to do anything — not even if the building was on fire and she needed help lifting a smoldering piece of scaffolding from her leg to escape.

Truthfully, I would still help her if she acted like a grown-up and ASKED for my help. However, it is out of her wheelhouse. Like, I said, real peach.

On the bright side, after I was no longer under her, I was promoted rather rapidly into a managerial position! We are now equals, which frustrates her even more.

Her new method to get me to do something is to now passive-aggressively hint until I “volunteer” to do it myself, but I have to do it in such a way that isn’t indicative of her “giving” me a task.

This happens in a conference call.

Former Manager: “[My Name], do you know if [Contractor] has been tracking bugs in [Program]?”

I am not responsible for this contractor; she is. I have received no training on the program she’s asking about.

Me: “I don’t know. I haven’t really looked or kept track of others’ tasks outside of [Subordinate #1], [Subordinate #2], and [Subordinate #3].”

Former Manager: “Did you look?”

Me: “I can look, but there is no good way to search for it.”

Former Manager: “You are an administrator. You should be able to look.”

Me: “I don’t get notifications for people not under me, and the search feature only works for tasks. I don’t know what he is working on.”

Former Manager: “You should be able to.”

At this point, I realize she wants to use me to basically “scold” [Contractor] in her stead for something she never told him to do. She already knows he hasn’t been putting in his bug reports. Basically, think of her as that “fun aunt” who likes to think she is cool, relatable, and down-to-earth so she hypes her nieces and nephews up on sugar and then sends them home to their parents covered in mud, knowing Mom or Dad is not going to be happy they ruined their new sneakers.

Me: “Can you show me how?”

Former Manager: “You should be able to do it!”

Me: “Okay, while I am not sure how. Would you like me to email him and ask?”

Notice the phrasing. I am asking her if she wants me to do something.

Former Manager: “No! I want you to look to see if he has entered any tasks.”

Me: “Well, I can certainly look, but as I said, to my knowledge, there is no way to search for who is assigned which tasks. If you know how, I would love for you to enlighten me.”

At this point, I have actually figured out how to search for tasks by clicking on individual profiles, which also shows me he has not logged on in two weeks. None of this needs actual administrator privilege to access. But as she clearly KNOWS how to search and just wants me to be the bad guy for her (on something that is pretty minor), I decide to continue yanking her chain.

Former Manager: “So, he hasn’t reported or been assigned one bug?”

Me: “I mean, if you check the bug list, he has a couple open, so he knows how to use it.”

Former Manager: “Has he put anything else in?”

Me: “I cannot see if he has or hasn’t.”

Former Manager: “You should be able to.”

Me: “How?”

There is a noticeable silence and I can hear the wheels turning in her head as she tries to figure out how to get out of this trap. She can either admit she checked and knows how to check or she can continue this cycle. I throw her a bone.

Me: “Why don’t I email him for you and ask? That seems best, right? Then, if he has any questions, we can figure it out together.”

Former Manager: *Grumbling* “Well, you should know how.”

Me: “I don’t know what to tell you. I received no training on this software and haven’t had a chance to create a training document for it. I recommend just talking to him.”

Former Manager: *Quick to change topic* “So, you are going to email him, yes?”

Me: “Sure.”

I made sure to mention in the email that she was asking him.

Making Some Fat Assumptions

, , , , , , | Working | April 18, 2022

“Fat Bob” had his nickname well before he was so overweight; even as a skinny teen, he ate so much that they called him “Fat Bob”. I guess his eating habits caught up to him and the nickname stuck.

No one — including Bob — used it maliciously. Bob would regularly introduce himself as “Fat Bob” and ask people to call him that. That was his name.

This, however, caught the attention of a new Human Resources person; they ruled that there would be no nicknames used across the company. We largely ignored this for Bob because it was his name and everyone knew it was in good spirits.

Eventually, someone got called into HR because of Bob’s nickname. The new HR woman sat in the meeting and gave a long speech about how bullying and victimisation are against company policy and how fatphobia is the worst form of abuse.

Bob asked why his opinion wasn’t being considered and why he couldn’t have people call him what he wanted.

There was a lull while some of the other managers asked the HR person why this was even a meeting and if she knew that Bob was fine with this.

Human Resources: “I know he likes it. But it’s still against the rules.”

Senior Manager: “I’m not sure I’m… comfortable enforcing rules blindly — especially when employees ask to be called a certain name.”

Human Resources: “Well, I find it disrespectful.”

Senior Manager: “I’m not sure that is the issue here. Let’s reconvene.”

Human Resources: “No, [Employee] has broken the rules and must be punished.”

Senior Manager: “I’m pretty sure this meeting is to evaluate if that is the case and to decide if discipline is appropriate. It should not be a forgone conclusion. Gentlemen, thank you; you may leave.”

No further action was taken against Bob or the other employee. The HR woman lasted less than a year and was quietly replaced.

Man, This Really Pops My Corn

, , , , , | Working | April 15, 2022

I have a coworker who simultaneously plays the part of a self-declared germaphobe and the office “lunch thief”. And by lunch, I mean opened and unopened packages of personal snacks that are often on or in desks that are not her own.

We are in a global health crisis when I find chocolate missing from my desk. Thoroughly disgusted that someone who was JUST bragging about how careful she is being stole a half-eaten chocolate bar, I decide to merely deep clean my desk and let it go. I have no real proof of it anyway.

Then, my bags of popcorn start going missing, so I hide them in a coworker’s office. They end up going missing from there, too. This time, I have proof.

She makes the fatal mistake of bragging to her pet-of-the-week that she is so dedicated to the job that all she had for lunch is a big bag of popcorn! So, I copy both her and our boss on an email innocently asking if she saw my popcorn as it had walked off from under my desk. She eventually cops to it after some light banter between our boss and me about who would steal popcorn, and I lightly chide her by telling her, “If it isn’t in the communal space, it is not for the community.”

I think this is the end of it as my food finally stops going missing! 

But wait… there’s more.

I have just restocked the entire office with a bunch of sweet snacks and plan to get more healthy options but am hesitant due to worrying about how they will be received. My boss is on the same page.

Boss: “I love all the sweets, but do we have any healthy options?”

Me: “I was thinking about that. Apples and oranges would be good. Same for carrots. They will all last for a couple of weeks just fine. Right now, all we really have is pita chips and hummus.”

Boss: “Isn’t the hummus yours?”

Me: *Confused* “I brought it to share.”

Boss: “But you scolded her for taking your food earlier.”

I mistakenly think he means my “work-wife,” who I teasingly complained ate said pita chips and hummus off my plate the day before.

Me: “Oh. That is just because she didn’t respect the pita to hummus ratio. [Work Wife] knows she is allowed to eat my food without asking.”

Boss: *Hinting* “I remember an email exchange about it.”

Me: “Oh! No. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t mind ‘sharing’. It was just that [Coworker] was removing food from my desk and sequestering it in her office for herself. As long as it isn’t in anyone else’s desk, or otherwise marked, that is fine.”

That witch had generously shared her stash with him and then made him feel guilty! She is definitely a wonder.