Doctor’s Notes Are Powerful

, , , , , , | Working | May 7, 2021

I have chronic back issues that may flare up quite unexpectedly. My team leader is aware of that. After a few years working in the factory, with increasingly poor ergonomy, my back begins to act up more often. Permanent workers can get a sick day or two just by letting the team leader know.

A few months go by. I call or message the team leader if I have a really bad day, and I don’t go to work that day.

Team Leader: “I can’t let you take any more sick days without a doctor’s note.”

Me: “So, even if it’s one day — like it’s been this far — I need to visit a doctor and get a note?”

Team Leader: “That’s right. I hope you understand.”

Me: “All right.”

From then on, every time my back flared up — not talking about a minor twinge or muscle cramp here — I called the occupational healthcare clinic, got an appointment, and got a doctor’s note. Those notes ALWAYS prescribed at least three days of paid sick leave, sometimes a week!

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Fear Is The Mood-Killer

, , , | Working | May 6, 2021

My wife works in a mall. I have a job in the oil and gas sector. It is one of those rare Saturdays when the wife is home and the kid is in school and we are, shall we say, making the most of it, when my phone rings. I did not switch it off because you never know whether a child of primary school age may pick this particular day to be sick or have a nosebleed or break an arm during recess.

I check the incoming call and recognize the number: it’s from my company’s project manager. I feel a knot starting to form in my belly; a few years ago, we had a severe accident occur with a team that was working during the weekend. I knock on wood and hope it will turn to be only a minor annoyance.

Me: “Hello.”

Project Manager: *Sounding frantic* “[My Name]? S*** just got real here. You gotta help me!”

I freeze, literally. Sweat chills on the skin of my back; my lips go numb. Our job is dangerous, the site is dangerous, and I expect him to tell me that someone on the team was injured or worse.

Me: “What happened? Is everyone all right?”

Project Manager: “Yeah, well… let me explain.”

Me: “Answer me first. Is anyone hurt?”

Project Manager: “No. We were written up by the customer’s health and safety inspector because he found that a bit of our warning tape had snapped and was tied back but it fell off, and I need you to send out a reply to their findings.”

Two things happened. First, I deflated. I let out a long breath and didn’t feel like drawing another one soon. The sensation of relief that I was feeling was like the hit from an illicit substance. But then, right on top of it, came the rage. How dare this moron disturb me on my off day, ruining my chance of finally getting a leg up, and actually giving me a scare because he can’t handle such a laughable matter himself?! I called him a lot of names and told him that if I received the HSE inspector report, it would be considered with the attention it deserved… on Monday morning. Not a minute earlier.

It turned out that the project manager did not need to panic; we never received any complaint from the customer about warning tape. The mood, however, had been killed and did not return on that day.

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An Unrefined System

, , , , | Working | CREDIT: NotAPreppie | May 5, 2021

I’m an analytical chemist in the petroleum industry. I’m attached to a refining pilot plant where we test products related to refining. The data I produce supports various other groups. My lab is staffed by me — senior chemist — and a temp/contractor lab tech.

Due to the health crisis, an edict came from high up in the corporate pantheon that we weren’t allowed to carry over any vacation time this year; I’m usually allowed to carry over five days. I guess they were worried about people banking up too much time and leaving various groups critically understaffed when too many people took vacation time at once — never mind that vacation time has to be approved. This being America with lax labor protections, this is all perfectly legal.

My boss emailed me.

Boss: “You have five and a half days left of vacation time, and I’ve been told to tell you to use it or lose it.”

I looked at our holiday schedule and figured out that strategic use of vacation and holiday time meant I could take two consecutive weeks off. I told my boss this.

Boss: “Well, if they didn’t want you to use it all at once, they shouldn’t force you to use it all at once.”

She approved my plan.

So, the lab will be critically understaffed for two weeks — what they were trying to avoid — because I am doing what I was told. Not sure what the other departments are going to do but it won’t be anything that requires data from the pilot plant.

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Past Performance, My Dude

, , , , , | Working | April 20, 2021

I work for a large company and have two people working for me: [Coworker #1] and [Coworker #2]. [Coworker #1] is hardworking, always on time, and happy to help. [Coworker #2] is her opposite; he has been late several times already this year and won’t do anything he deems “not his job.”

Both are great people and work well together; however, when a vacancy comes up for a senior position in another department, I recommend [Coworker #1]. She has all the qualities needed and the right attitude.

A few weeks later, I learn that there have been many applications — including [Coworker #1] and [Coworker #2] — but [Coworker #1] got the offer. They publicly state that it was largely helped by my personal recommendation.

[Coworker #2] comes to me, very angry.

Coworker #2: “Why did you recommend [Coworker #1]?”

Me: “I felt she was well suited for the job.”

Coworker #2: “That’s favouritism! You should have recommended us both or neither.”

Me: “No, I will never stand in the way of people progressing, and frankly, the promotion wouldn’t suit you.”

Coworker #2: “How do you know?”

Me: “The job includes working longer hours, working helping different teams, and, importantly, needs excellent timekeeping and organisation.”

Coworker #2: “You don’t know! I could do all that if I wanted to!”

Me: “You expect to be given a job, based on no evidence that you could perform any of what they are asking, instead of us giving it to someone who has demonstrated that they can time and time again?” 

Coworker #2: “I, err, well… It’s still not fair. I’m going to human resources!”

He did and he put in a complaint against me, which was disregarded immediately. HR told him that we can recommend anyone we like, and frankly, it was part of my job to develop people. 

As he still wouldn’t back down, they brought the interviewing manager over, who told him brutally that even if the Pope had given him a recommendation, he still wouldn’t have gotten the job!

[Coworker #2] sulked for months and nearly got himself fired for his resulting behaviour. Happily, he has finally agreed to let me develop him and his skills and he is doing much better.

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We Want Solutions That Involve Changing Nothing

, , , , , | Working | April 20, 2021

I work as a contractor, taking roles in companies that are having serious quality problems. 

Having worked for several companies in many industries, I have gotten pretty good at finding out why problems occur and how to fix them.

This one company is having major issues with deliveries to their main customer. Every month, they are sent a list of missing parts. The company has to make a load of spares and then airfreight them across the globe to get them delivered in time.

The company is sure that their supplier is making it up but can’t prove it. 

My first step is the packing area, I am introduced to a hate-filled, haggard woman that initially refuses to look at me. I’m told she is the person that packs everything and of course could make no mistakes. 

Me: “Hi, my name is [My Name]. I’ve been asked to help out with [Customer].”

The woman ignores me.

Me: “Perhaps you could help me understand what might be the issue?”

Woman: “Well, they’re making it up, aren’t they!”

Me: “Okay. Do we have any paperwork that proves what we packed?”

Woman: “Oh, I knew this would happen. What has it been, five minutes? And you are blaming me?”

Me: “I didn’t say anything about blame.”

Woman: “No, I don’t want to talk to you anymore.”

And she refuses to speak to me. I catch up with the owner. He is as limp as wet lettuce and makes some stupid excuse not to deal with her. He asks me to try again tomorrow. So I do.

Me: “Good morning! Can we chat?”

Woman: “I suppose.”

Me: “So, we need to prove that the customer is losing these parts.”

Woman: “I don’t see what the fuss is about. They cost pennies to make.”

Me: “And hundreds of pounds to replace and ship, every month. I was told that because of these complaints, the company is barely making any money.”

Woman: “I don’t see what that has to do with me!”

I spent a month trying to work through the problems, being ignored by staff, and trying to wet nurse the directors. I eventually found a foolproof, quick, and cheap solution to fix the problem. However, the directors were too scared to implement it, in case it inconvenienced the staff.

I told the company they were wasting their money hiring me if they would not implement my solutions and respectfully ended my contract early.

They call me from time to time to come back in and help. I decline.

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