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I’m Looking For A Plane; It’s Blue

, , , , , | Right | June 17, 2022

I used to work in sales for an aerospace company that made highly specialized parts. Mostly the parts we sold came in roughly three different shapes (bushings, bearings, and rollers) but there could be thousands upon thousands of variations on the parts based on materials or plating used as well as sizes. Since these are parts for aerospace, the sizes can be defined down to the thousandths of a decimal place because the tolerances can be that tight. Depending on the size/material/etc., our prices could range from $25 a piece to thousands of dollars for a single part. Usually, a customer coming in for a quote would provide either a specific part number or provide the part type, materials, and size. Not this woman, though.

One day, I received an email from a potential new customer requesting a quote for a part. I asked her to provide me with some detail on what she needed, and a little while later, I got an email saying she needed a quote on the attached. I opened the attachment and nearly fell out of my chair laughing.

She had gone to our website and printed out our company header, which included a picture of some of the parts we could manufacture artfully strewn about. She had circled one of the parts from this pile in pen, written, “I need this,” then scanned the picture, and attached it to her email.

Eventually, I was able to get more details on what she wanted and was able to help her, but that initial attachment was the equivalent of walking into a bookstore and saying, “I need a book; I think it’s blue,” but a thousand times worse.

Don’t You Wish Some People Wouldn’t Choose To Remain?

, , , , | Working | May 18, 2022

In 2016, I was employed in a manufacturer’s warehouse in England. In 2016, the UK was to decide if it wanted to remain a member of the European Union or not. In the run-up to this vote, [Employee] had so much to say about the benefits of leaving. This story begins about two weeks prior to the vote.

Employee: “All I’m saying is when we leave the EU, we will have them begging us at Dover for a better deal! You know it makes sense!”

Me: “Well, I don’t know. I’d like to be more informed first on how we are actually going to benefit from being outside of the EU.”

Employee: “Yeah, yeah, typical Remainer logic. Where’s your sense of patriotic pride? Where’s your faith?”

Me: “It’s not about faith. Just, if you don’t plan ahead to fuel your car to get to work, faith alone isn’t going to make it move.”

Employee: “Pffft, whatever…”

[Employee] has been doing this to nearly all the staff who have Remain concerns. It’s really, really irritating. A lot of complaints have gone to our managers who asked him to stop but also addressed a lot of concerns about the vote to their employees. I should note that a large majority of our staff comes from Eastern Europe, and since we export to the EU, the managers would prefer us to Remain; otherwise, the plant would most likely shut down. [Employee], however, has “defiantly” expressed that his freedom and sovereignty mean more to him than his job. Bear in mind also that [Employee] is by no means a senior employee and holds no managerial responsibility, and because of his recent behaviour, a lot of the staff avoid him like the plague.

So… along comes the vote and the UK votes to Leave. Understandably, the foreign staff is very concerned about losing their jobs. [Employee] however, for a solid week, comes in with a s***-eating grin, totally oblivious to the plant’s mood. He makes a beeline for me.

Employee: “Remember when you said that we would never Leave?”

Me: “No? Because I never said that.”

Employee: “Well, you said something to that effect. I bet you feel really silly now, don’t you?”

For that entire week, he takes enormous pleasure in gloating about it to everybody. He couldn’t care less that the majority of the staff are upset at the decision. A week later, however, the district manager arrives for a meeting.

District Manager: “Right, so I’m sure you are all aware of the Referendum result. I’m now going to be here for four days in which I will one-to-one with all of you and work out a compromise for the plant. Please come and see me before Friday.”

As it turns out, the one-to-one meetings were to help all the staff adjust to what ultimately was going to be a shutdown of the plant, as the amount of red tape and the myriad of legislation meant that the plant would have operated at a loss from then on. The staff was transferred to other locations in or outside the UK, but the meetings ensured that only four people would be made redundant, and that was only because they didn’t bother to turn up. If you guessed that [Employee] didn’t turn up because — and I quote — he could just find new work that the foreigners didn’t want to do, you would be right. But, who’d have thought that working on an immigrant’s wages for sixteen hours a day suddenly didn’t seem so lucrative after all to [Employee]? Last I heard, he was on Universal Credit payments which had been cut off as he refused a job in a hotel as he deemed the work “beneath him”.

Ashes To Ashes, Dust To Distribution

, , , , | Working | May 12, 2022

When I turned eighteen, I got a job at a distribution center of a big German shipping company, working a few hours after school. I was assigned to various stations, depending on where they needed help at the moment.

One day, I was assigned to a station I’d never been before. After a while, I noticed a wooden pallet with about a hundred of the same packages. For the most part, we handled only single packages, so this seemed odd to me at first.

Me: “Hey, [Coworker], that pallet looks special. I haven’t seen something like that around before. What is this?”

Coworker: “Oh, those are just urns from the crematory. We ship those every couple of weeks.”

Me: “We ship urns with the ashes of dead people? Why?”

Coworker: “You see, in Germany, you’re not allowed to collect the ashes from the crematory yourself. Only the boss of a funeral home is allowed to do that. The other legal way to transport filled urns is shipping them with our company, because we used to be owned by the government.”

I was a little weirded out and decided I don’t want to be cremated in Germany, but I managed to handle those pallets without incident.

Fast forward a few years. As I’m shopping at a local supermarket, a woman approaches me.

Woman: “Sorry to bother you, but is your name [My Name], by a chance?

Me: “Yes, it is. Why?”

I do not recognise her, but I’m bad at remembering people.

She yells across the aisle:

Woman: “Hey, [Friend’s Brother], it is him. now you can say hello!” *To me* “He didn’t dare to ask you himself.” 

I recognise the man she yelled to as the little brother of a friend I’ve failed to stay in touch with over the years.

Me: “Oh, hi, [Friend’s Brother], good to see you. How are you? How is your sister?”

Blah, blah, blah. We catch up for a while. 

After a couple of minutes:

Me: “And what do you do now?”

Friend’s Brother: “Well, you met my girlfriend. I’m just finishing school, and I work a few hours at the distribution center on the side.”

Me: “Hey, I had that job. It was fun, most of the time. Do you still get those wooden pallets full of urns?”

Friend’s Brother: “Oh, yes, we do.”

Me: “Man, can you imagine how bad it would be to knock one of those over and break the urns? We used to joke about it all the time.”

He gets quiet and looks down.

Friend’s Brother: “Well… you see… I actually did that. I crashed it and it turned over. A lot of the urns broke. There was ash everywhere.”

Me: “Oh, no. Oh, s***. What did you do then?”

Friend’s Brother: “Well, we brushed the ash up and put it in a bucket. Then, we sent everything to the station for damaged packages. I never found out what they did with it.”

Better Than Soylent Green, I Guess

, , | Right | April 19, 2022

I worked for a company that made those seasoning blends you see in foil envelopes at the supermarket, as a hostess and tour guide. Four or more times a day, I took groups through the factory, explaining things. Now and then, I’d get someone in the group who just wanted to argue or who I felt was trying to get me to make a statement they could later use to sue us.

One time, we were stopped at the window to the packaging line, and a woman asked a perfectly ordinary question.

Woman: “How do you keep bugs out of the packages?”

Me: “Great question! See the doorway there?” *Pointing* “There’s a curtain of air blowing across it that bugs can’t fly through. And if one did, those would take care of them.”

I pointed at the giant bug zappers all around the space.

Woman: “What if a bug did get in a package?”

Me: “We test random samples of every batch for contamination.”

Woman: “Well, what if a customer found bugs when they opened a package?”

Me: “They should take the package back to the store for a full refund.”

Woman: “Why do bugs get into spices, anyway?”

Me: “Another great question! Spices are actually very nutritious, and when you’re as small as a bug, an ounce of, say, spaghetti mix is a lifetime feast.”

The rest of the group was losing interest.

Me: “So, if there are no more questions—”

Woman: *Interrupting* “What about at home?”

Me: “Ma’am, our products come in sealed foil packages. There’s no way bugs can get in.”

Woman: “What about if the package has been opened?”

Her tone was a little too eager, and my spidey sense told me she was up to something.

Me: “Ma’am, we’re not responsible for how you store our products after they’ve been opened.”

Woman: *Still in that eager tone* “But what if a bug got in anyway?”

Me: “Well, ma’am, I guess you just consider it protein.”

Now, What Did We Learn?

, , , , , , | Working | April 11, 2022

I worked at a large printing company. Work accidents can be costly for a business. In January, my company announced a new safety incentive policy. If our facility averaged only one injury a month, for the entire year, everyone would get a monetary Safety Bonus at the end of the year.

It is now November, and we have had twelve work injuries to date. Twelve is the limit for getting the Safety Bonus. If no one has an accident in the next few weeks, all the employees will get the bonus money.

Late in November, a job opening is posted for a coveted position. A dozen people apply for the job, including [Coworker #1]. The next week, the job is given to [Coworker #2].

[Coworker #1] is extremely upset by management’s choice. They stomp into the plant manager’s office to complain about being passed over for the promotion.

As [Coworker #1] is loudly venting their displeasure at the plant manager, they slam their fist down hard on the manager’s desk to emphasize the point.

In their rage, [Coworker #1] slams their fist down so hard they fracture two bones in their hand.

And that’s work accident number thirteen for the year.

No “Safety Bonus” was issued that year because [Coworker #1] lost it.