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The Squeaky Wheel Greases The Nipple

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

I get called into a meeting; it sounds urgent. They ask me to sit with a member of staff as a complaint has been made. The standard process is to get a manager that is impartial.

I take the sobbing woman to a private room and sit her down.

Me: “So, can you tell me what happened?”

Woman: “[Coworker] made a really disgusting remark to me.”

Me: “Okay. Do you feel okay if I ask you to repeat it?”

Woman: “Well, he said he wanted me to pass him the greased nipples.”

Me: “Okay. How did he say it?”

Woman: “Just like that, as plain as day. Like it was nothing!”

Me: “What were you doing at the time?”

Woman: “Ugh, all these questions! Why can’t you just fire him already?”

Me: “I’m sorry, but we need to be sure what happened to take the best course of action. What were you doing at the time?”

Woman: “I was helping him fix the grease guns. I don’t even know why I had to. He could do it himself. I’m sure it’s just to punish me.”

Me: “Okay, just to confirm, he definitely said, ‘Greased nipples,’ and not, ‘Can you pass me the grease nipple?’”

Woman: “I don’t know. Why does it matter? What’s the difference?”

Me: “Well, ‘grease nipple’ is the correct name for a screw-in cap, fitted to most of our grease guns. The other, well, could be seen as misconduct.”

Woman: “I don’t know, either. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Me: “Okay, and then you came straight here?”

Woman: “Yes, I did.”

Me: “Okay. Well, thank you for bringing this to our attention. We will take it seriously and look into the matter. We may need to give you both paid suspensions while we investigate it further.”

It didn’t take long after to have another witness come forward. She said she heard the guy ask for the grease nipple and then helped him fit it, and that the woman was too busy playing on her phone to actually listen to him.

Both were brought back and no further actions were taken. However, the guy — a man in his sixties — felt like it was just too much and was so worried about what people would think of him that he retired early.

We couldn’t do anything about the woman’s false accusation, but we did end up moving her away from machinery as she was too much of a risk when distracted.

It’s Really Taxing To Be Perfect

, , , , , , , , | Working | January 2, 2022

I still remain somewhat envious many years later of a truck salesman I once worked with. He was perfect in every way, everything he did was right, and he had a perfect life, wife, children, and a high-paying job. Everyone else existed to ensure this situation continued… at least inside his own head.

In fact, he was terrible. He didn’t listen to customers or colleagues, missed items off quotes, and even failed to supply items that had been specifically requested. In one case, he messed up so badly that, after losing the court case, we had to give the customer a brand new £60,000 truck for free because we were deemed to have supplied something not fit for purpose. But of course, this couldn’t possibly be the salesman’s fault, so he just ignored the criticism. Most places would have fired him, but sadly he had the right handshake.

The best example I witnessed involved a conversation between him and my boss, the regional finance manager. The tax laws in the UK had recently changed, and now anyone with a company car had to keep and submit business mileage records to ensure they ended up on the right tax codes. Prior to this, many people just claimed they were doing enough to be on the lowest rate of tax, but strangely, the UK government now wanted proof.

All staff with company cars had been informed and given paperwork to complete, and most did it. Not this salesman. He just assumed everything would be the way he desired, ignored what he didn’t want to do, and then seemed genuinely amazed when he got a new tax code, showing he would be paying far more. So, in he came to our office to explain how the world should be adjusted to suit his whims.

He happily explained to my boss that he just needed to tell the HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) that he was doing enough mileage and everything would go back to normal. Over ten minutes or so, my increasingly exasperated boss explained that the rules had changed, the salesman had been informed, and since taking an initial reading from all the cars, nothing had been submitted. The salesman’s smile never changed, and he just kept repeating the same statement that it could all just be changed.

My boss took him out to his car and showed him that, even including all his private mileage, he hadn’t done enough to be on the lowest code, and given we knew how far away from the dealership he lived, his business mileage wasn’t even close to getting him off the worst code. This made no difference; the salesman just continued insisting that it was just a matter of telling the HMRC to change the code.

Eventually, my boss exploded. In twelve years working for him, I only saw him lose his temper twice. The other time was with a fitter who insisted we should have ignored a court-ordered deduction for child maintenance and lied to the government on his behalf. But that was nothing compared to the red-faced screaming fit my boss inflicted on the man before him. I was the only other person in the office, trying to be as small and quiet as possible while holding in my laughter.

The salesman’s smile never changed. It seemed that given my boss was clearly angry about something, and he was perfect, it obviously couldn’t be him. So, he waited, and when my boss ran out of breath, he calmly and politely repeated his instructions to just talk to the tax office about restoring his old tax code. He was told to leave our office immediately and physically forced out by my boss, and he seemed to remain genuinely baffled as to what was going on.

He never changed. A couple of years later, he came to us and asked for copies of all his mileage records for the last few years. It seemed that the government wanted more information regarding previous years, as they suspected he had been underpaying tax for a while. The discussion was calmer this time, with no screaming, but when my boss explained to him that he had still never submitted any records and we could not help him, he seemed unable to understand. The requests went back years before it was compulsory, and he was now facing a huge bill for back taxes. But somehow, this was still something other people should be able to solve for him, as it couldn’t possibly be his mistake.

He was perfect, after all.

Kindness Is The Best Snack

, , , , , | Right | January 1, 2022

I work in Los Angeles but live a couple of counties over as the result of a recent move. On the most direct route, my evening commute home averages about two hours. Sometimes I have to get off the highway partway through to find a restroom.

On this day, I’ve just gotten past a thirty-four-minute slowdown caused by a crash that involved a couple of semis, and I desperately need a restroom, so I stop by a certain popular chain coffee shop near the highway.

After finishing my business, I hop in line to make a purchase — I’ve worked both retail and customer service and know that a lot of places get cranky about people using their restrooms without buying anything — and get to chatting with a very friendly barista.

Me: “Yeah, I just wanted to make a purchase to justify using your bathroom.”

Barista: “Ah, you don’t need to worry about that!”

Me: “Thanks, I appreciate that. It’s just that I have a two-hour commute home—”

Barista: *Looks horrified* “Oh! So, you need a snack!”

Me: “Pretty much, yeah.”

We commiserated a bit about said commute as I purchased a brownie, and I left a decent tip since I had cash and he’d been very sweet and cheerful in serving me. He gave me the little paper bag with my brownie in it and I absently noticed as I walked off that it was a bit heavier than usual. Peeking inside, I discovered that the barista had given me a second brownie!

Thank you, kind sir, for such a sweet gesture to brighten up such an awful commute! I’m currently looking for a job closer to home, but I’ll never forget that awesome barista!

Aiming For A High Volume Of Responses

, , , , | Working | December 31, 2021

My husband and I are just tucking into our supper one evening when the phone rings. The caller ID says it’s a government department, so I figure I had better answer it. The caller mumbles something about doing a survey regarding cannabis. I try to keep an open mind because various disabilities could cause someone to speak very slowly and slur their words, but she genuinely sounds like she’s stoned out of her gourd.

Caller: “Do you have ten minutes to answer our survey questions?”

Me: “I’m in the middle of my supper.”

Caller: “Can I call back in an hour?”

Me: “Sure.”

It was a very well-spoken young man who called back later, so I’m wondering if she really was impaired and, the calls being monitored, was pulled from the phones.

On a side note, one of the questions the young man asked was whether I had ever been a passenger in a vehicle operated by someone under the influence of cannabis. I told him that, as I had grown up in the 1970s, there was a very good chance of that.

What’s In A Name? Oh, It’s Salad.

, , , , , , , | Working | December 31, 2021

I find a new vegetarian restaurant I want to try out, so I place an order online. As part of the process, of course, I have to type in my full name. It’s relevant that I have a slightly unusual name, but it’s still similar to a common name and most people have no trouble with it. Let’s say it’s something like “Kellyn Smythe” instead of the more expected “Ellen Smith.”

I place the order and the restaurant’s website tells me it will take forty-three minutes for my food to be ready, which seems like a suspiciously long time for a salad, but hey, it’s the lunch rush. I stop by the restaurant twenty-five minutes later just to check on the progress, content to wait if my order isn’t ready. I check the shelf for takeout bags and don’t see any with my name.

Worker: “What was your order?”

Me: “Oh, it was an Asian salad, but it’s not supposed to be ready yet, so I don’t mind waiting.”

Worker: “We have it! Look again!”

Me: “I don’t think—”

Worker: “It’s definitely that one! Take it already!”

The bag has a name that’s nothing at all close to mine and is spelled with odd extra letters! It’s like “Chharlinn Ssplrythe.”

Me: “I don’t want to take someone else’s lunch!”

Worker: “It will get bad if you don’t eat it now! Don’t you want it?”

Me: “I really don’t think this is right, but okay, if you insist!”

The food turned out to be exactly what I ordered, even with a customization, so I guess it really was mine all along? Still, I have so many questions! Why was my food ready so early, and yet no one told me about it? And how could they mess up my name so much when I literally TYPED IT IN for them? So much that it didn’t even look like a name you could pronounce anymore? And why was the worker mad at me? At least the meal was delicious!