Every Office Has One(sie)

, , , , , , , | Working | June 19, 2018

Several years ago, my company was looking to hire an intern, and we received an impassioned application from a young woman in her early 20s. She didn’t have much experience, but she seemed driven, smart, and dedicated, and we felt like we could take a chance on her. All of us kind of empathized with being that young person, trying to get a foot in the door and get noticed. The job involved a lot of basic “intern-y” stuff like paperwork and emails and data entry, but also involved attending meetings and check-up calls with our clients, contractors, and so forth, more to take notes or answer basic questions and take information than anything huge or stressful. It was basically a lot of the sort of work that we were desperate for an intern to handle so we could focus more on our bigger projects and our main duties. Since we knew it was a significant amount of work, even if it was mostly made up of a lot of little things, it was paying more than minimum wage.

When we called her in for her interview, she seemed different from her application. She was very quiet, a little awkward, and stumbled through speaking, though we chalked it up to nerves. Because it was only a four-month internship with option for us to hire permanently or “renew” the agreement, it didn’t seem like much of a risk to us, and we decided to hire her. The first few weeks went… okay. She seemed so outgoing in her application and emails when we’d followed up with her, but around the office she was quiet as a mouse and seemed to be trying to actively avoid people, even after extensive training. She did her work quickly and effectively, but any time she had to do something that involved working with her coworkers, or clients, face-to-face, she found some way to get out of it.

Because that sort of thing was in her job description, which she assured us she could do before we hired her, that just wasn’t acceptable. I tried to speak with her privately about it, and she told me she was just not used to dealing with people professionally, and swore she’d get better and try harder. I was not unsympathetic; I might have been ten years or so older than her, but I knew what it was like to be the awkward, anxious gal… Heck, I still am, and get a lot of social anxiety; I’m just better able to hide it and work with it. But as her first month dragged into her second and we didn’t see an improvement, that sympathy turned into frustration; my coworkers and I were left holding the bag for a lot of the duties she was specifically brought on to handle that involve dealing with people in person or over the phone, all because she was uncomfortable or nervous. It got to the point where she was not doing half of what her job required, something that annoyed my boss more and more when he was paying her significantly above minimum wage for an internship, making him feel like she was coasting. We’re a small, tight-knit company and he’s an extremely generous boss, but all of that depends on all of us handling our responsibilities so we can rely on one another.

I pulled her into my office and told her, frankly, that if she couldn’t get around this and we couldn’t find a reasonable solution that didn’t involve her hiding every time she was expected to talk to someone, or coming up with excuses, it was not going to work out and she was going to be let go. She got teary, and then defensive, saying she’d been trying but it was hard, and she just needed us to be a little patient and understanding. At this point, she’d been “trying” for almost two months, and we hadn’t seen even a little progress since the beginning. I told her as gently but firmly as I was able that at the end of the day, this was still a job and we were still a business, and if she literally could not do the job she was specifically hired to do, we’d have to part ways.

The very next day, she was supposed to be sitting in on a meeting with one of our contractors and a coworker, both to take down information to update our system with later, and to get some experience on how these things went so in the future — if she got her act together and was hired on– she could handle them herself, and gain insight and experience into the industry itself. As it was, she’d mostly just gained insight and experience into being your standard office gofer.

Because I was wrapped up in my own work I didn’t get to see this happen, but my coworker came storming back after, angry and embarrassed, because our intern, this adult helping to represent us as a company in a business setting, showed up to this professional meeting in. A. Unicorn. Onesie. I absolutely refused to believe he wasn’t joking until I heard from everyone else. The contractor — who was more confused and made awkward than anything else, and thankfully as understanding as she could be about it — attested to it, including how the intern dragged her chair away from the table and sat in the corner with her head down, taking notes and not speaking, as did everybody else in the office who had seen it. Apparently, she just stood up shortly after she sat down, grabbed her things, and left.

I tried getting a hold of her multiple times, but she ignored all attempts to contact her, even though you could see her on social media out partying with her friends and chatting online. She even went so far as to delete every single reference she had ever posted to working for or with us. Because she still seemed to be active and happy, we just decided to drop it. We never saw her again, but it still remains the single most bizarre experience of my career, maybe even my adult life. All we could guess is that she just got overwhelmed and maybe wore it as some sort of comfort thing, then got embarrassed and fled. I’m still not 100% sure whether it was some elaborate troll, but I honestly can’t figure out what the point would be. I looked her up again recently; she seems happy and healthy, and is working for another company in a completely different industry, so it seems like everything worked out for her. The whole incident was just so strange I wanted to reach out to her and ask her what the hell happened, but ultimately I decided she was probably far more embarrassed by the ordeal than I was impacted by it and let it lie. She seems to be doing very well for herself, and at the end of the day, that’s worth more than my curiosity.

Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Listen To This

, , , , , , | Related | June 19, 2018

(This takes place when I am about thirteen. My sister likes a band and talks about them a lot.)

Sister: “A band in the Midwest is playing tonight, wanna go?”

Me: “What band?”

Sister: “A band in the Midwest.”

Me: “What band?”

(This goes on longer than I’d like to admit, with me getting more and more frustrated that she won’t tell me the name of the band.)

Me: “What is the name of the band?”

Sister: “The band’s name is A Band in the Midwest!

Me: “Why the hell did they name their band A Band in the Midwest if they live in Florida?”

Sister: “Wait, you thought I was saying A Band in the Midwest? I was saying Abandon the Midwest.”

(I felt very stupid that in the months of hearing my sister talk about this band, I’d never realized what she’d really been saying. Every time she’d say Abandon the Midwest, I’d hear “a band in the Midwest” and wonder why she cared so much about some band in a different part of the country when she wouldn’t ever say their name!)

It’s A Thin Blue Line Between Acceptance And Denial

, , , , | | Legal | June 18, 2018

(The following are a series of emails between a student and their local police department:)

Email #1 from [Student]:

To whom it may concern,

My name is [Student] and I am a student at [University]. I am currently taking the class Introduction to Law Enforcement and for one of our projects we are required to do a ride-along with a police officer. Is it possible to do a ride-along with [Law Enforcement Agency]? If so, what do I need to do to sign up for one? I would greatly appreciate any help. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[Student]

Email #1 from Police Department:

Hello, [Student],

I believe that Lt. [Commander District #1] is the person responsible for coordinating ride-alongs. I cannot say with absolute certainty that is still within his purview as a few of the upper administrative personnel had a few changes in responsibility lately. What I would suggest is that you call the front desk at [number] between eight am and five pm Monday through Friday and ask to whom you would need to speak. The front desk officer should be able to transfer you directly to the correct person. Sorry I wasn’t able to assist you fully with the correct answer.

[Records Technician]

[LEA] Records Technician

Email #2 from [Student]:

Hi,

This is to inform you that your excuse has been received. Thank you.

[Sorority Member]

Vice President of Communication

[Sorority]

Email #2 from Police Department:

Unfortunately, due to your condescending response to one of our records technicians, who did in fact give you 100% accurate information, the [Law Enforcement Agency] will not be hosting you for a law enforcement ride-along. In summary, as a representative of your peer group, this remark is unwarranted:

Your email will also be forwarded to the [Other Local Law Enforcement Agencies] to demonstrate your disdain for the men and women of the local law enforcement agencies who serve the students, citizens, and visitors to [University], [City], and [County].

It is my sincere hope that in the future you act more accordingly when asking for an accommodation to be made for your individual benefit.

Lieutenant [Lieutenant]

[Law Enforcement Agency]

District 1 Commander

If THAT Is Rude, Wait Until They Read This Site

, , , , , | Friendly | June 18, 2018

(I go clothes shopping with my mother and a family friend. I’ve always been kind of “fashion impaired,” so my mother is in the fitting room with me as a kind of assistant and sapient mirror. All of a sudden, there is a knock on the door. Thinking it must be our friend, I open it, and come face to face with some strange woman.)

Woman: “Oops! Sorry, I didn’t know this was occupied.”

(Fair enough. Thinking nothing else of it, I close the door.)

Woman: “Oh, my God! You just slammed the door in my face! That is the rudest thing I’ve ever seen in my life!

(Yes, she really said it was the rudest thing she’d ever seen, so while I’m contemplating how sheltered her life must be, my mom pokes her head out of the booth to speak to the still-ranting woman.)

Woman: “Your daughter slammed the door in my face!”

Mom: “No, sweetie, she didn’t slam the door. It’s the door; it just slams.”

(The woman doesn’t believe my mom. Eventually, Mom just gives up and closes the door.)

Woman: “Now you slammed the door in my face! How rude!

(Eventually she went away. Mom and I had a good laugh, and for the rest of the evening, any slight offense was “the RUDEST thing I’d ever seen in my life!”)

DO NOT REMOVE PHONE FROM YOUR EAR – LIKE EVER

, , , , , | Right | June 18, 2018

(It’s a slow night and I’m the cashier at [National Drug Store Chain]. A woman comes in and walks around for a few minutes on her phone. She eventually comes to the checkout counter with cat litter and a cream-filled chocolate egg. She’s still on the phone.)

Me: “Okay, ma’am, that’s $9.79.”

(Still on the phone, not paying attention, she swipes her credit card. The credit card terminal beeps, alerting me that her card is equipped with the chip thing.)

Me: “Go ahead and insert the chip for me.”

(It should be noted for the non-Americans that the chip-reader is a new-fangled thing over here. I know it’s been around for decades elsewhere, but here it’s only been around for a few months and most people still can’t figure it out.)

Customer: *still on phone, inserts chip* “Yeah, I’m here at [Rival National Drugstore Chain across the street] getting kitty litter and chocolate.”

(She is clearly not paying attention to the credit card terminal’s dire warning of “DO NOT REMOVE CARD,” so she removes her card. A man is now standing behind her in line and the computer is not responding, thanks to her idiocy.)

Me: *loudly, so the other customer knows what happened* “Yeah, you removed the card too early, so I have to reboot the computer and wait for the manager to sign me into the other register.” *on intercom* “[Manager] to the front, please.”

(The manager is busy upstairs in the stockroom, so it takes him a solid three minutes to come to the front.)

Customer: *to her phone* “This is unbelievable! The friggin’ cashier at [Rival Drugstore] can’t figure out how to ring me up for these two little things. I’ve been standing here forever.” *she wanders around*

(The manager finally shows up, and I sign in and check out the man behind her in line, since the woman is a good fifteen feet away.)

Me: *loud enough for the woman on the phone to hear* “I’m so sorry for the wait, sir, but some people don’t know how to read stuff like, ‘DO NOT REMOVE YOUR CARD.’”

(The customer was STILL on her phone, but very quietly paid and slunk out.)

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