The Only Good Things About The Fifties Were The Music And Fashion

, , , , | Working | October 20, 2020

My dad came to the USA from Germany in 1953. He was working in a factory in Oklahoma. As he was single, a black friend from work invited him for Thanksgiving with his family. A good time was had by all.

The next day at work, he was called into the manager’s office.

Manager: “So, I hear you had Thanksgiving at [Friend]’s house.”

Dad: “Yes, he has a nice family.”

Manager: “Now, you listen here. [Friend] is a [racial slur] and you’re a white man. You don’t like them, and they don’t like us. If you want to work here, you’ll remember that!”

My dad left the company soon after.

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An American Tale In Reverse

, , , | Working | September 18, 2020

I am a manager at a factory. A shipping container comes in from the USA, which is a regular enough occurrence that I leave it to the floor workers without too much trouble.

My radio goes off.

Me: “Go for [My Name].”

Floor Worker: “Uh… boss? It’s about that shipping container that just came in.”

Me: “Is there an issue?”

Floor Worker: “It was supposed to just be big bags of powdered milk…”

Me: “…and?”

Floor Worker: “Maybe you should come down and see.”

Incredibly curious, I head straight down. The shipping container is open, and a group of the guys has gathered around the door. They make room for me and I peer inside to see…

…a terrified cat.

Me: “How long was this container at sea?”

Floor Worker: “Two weeks.”

I spy one of the bags ripped open.

Me: “It survived on the powdered milk. You can’t make this s*** up!”

Eventually, we managed to coax the little guy out of there with some tuna – cliché, I know, but it was from someone’s sandwich for lunch. He seemed pretty resilient and was quite happy to hang around the factory, petted and fed by pretty much all the workers. He’s become a diligent rodent-hunter!

We named him Schrödinger.

This story is part of our Best Of September 2020 roundup!

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Don’t Know If We’re Incompetent Or Gassy, But We’re Somewhere In That Zone

, , , , , , | Working | August 27, 2020

When our teams work in certain high-risk sites, each worker must wear a gas detector. Due to a number of failures and calibration occurring at the same time, one of our workers needs a detector, and we’re all out of spares. I check who’s on layoff and not needing a detector in the next weeks and start making phone calls. The first guy is a fresh hire and he confesses he left a detector in the shack at a site a hundred miles away.

The human resources coordinator blows a fuse when I tell her. “What? This is not admissible! I’ll write him up!”

“I’d really suggest you don’t, boss.”

“Why not? He signed when we gave him his personal—”

“He didn’t sign because he never got one. He was always meant for [low-risk] site, but a third man was needed at the refinery, so we gave him a random one and sent him with God. Moreover, he was supposed to get safety training within ninety days of being hired, and despite several occasions and several reminders, the term expired five months ago. Of course, you could still write him up, but there’s a chance it comes back to bite us in the back.”

So far, no letter.

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Glowing With Confusion

, , , , | Learning | August 19, 2020

I’m teaching a radiation safety course for workers doing a project in a Belgian nuclear plant.

Me: “…while the average dose for the general population in Belgium is two mSv per year—”

Worker: “Oh.”

Me: “Why’d you say, ‘Oh.’?”

Worker: “Those poor people.”

Every attempt to explain failed. It’s a small dose, it’s the value for the natural, background radiation, and it is actually lower than our own country. No joy. To this day, [Worker] is convinced that the Belgians inhabit a deadly radioactive wasteland. Eventually, he failed the test, and I wonder if he did it on purpose.

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We’d Definitely Rather Have The Chicken

, , , , , | Working | August 10, 2020

I have a quite stressful job at quality assurance in our factory. Luckily, we are a great team. One of my coworkers, otherwise a silent, nice guy, is a bit of a walking Wikipedia, and from time to time, he decides to entertain us with bits of trivia he finds interesting. Despite how it sounds, he comes out as the opposite of annoying as those little bits, completely unrelated to our work, are like little tea breaks for our high-strung brains.

One day, I am venting about our cafeteria, which is not good at all. Basically, there is only some sort of chicken, five days a week. My coworker lets me calm down, and after some time, he starts:

Coworker: “[My Name], you know, there are very interesting bugs, called Dermestidae, often called skin beetles or museum beetles. There are about 1,600 species of them and some are considered pests because they eat grain or clothes, but overall, they are very useful, as they get rid of dead organic matter. In the show Bones, they use them to clean the bones of the corpse! And there is one subfamily of them called Thaumaglossa. They are very specialized, as they only eat ootekas — egg containers — of mantids. Really, the only thing they eat is ootekas.”

Me: “Is that so?”

Coworker: “Yes! So, why do you complain about having to eat chicken?”

My colleague was genuinely startled when the whole office exploded into laughter, as he did not realize that our colleagues listened to him. We all agreed that this one took the cake for a surprise ending. The cafeteria is still crap, though.

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