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Your Coworker’s Croaking And You’re Sitting There Joking

, , , , , , , , | Working | February 2, 2023

We are in a training session on Teams; we can’t see each other.

Coworker: *Coughs*

Trainer: “What was that, [Coworker]?”

Coworker: “Sorry, just a frog in my throat.”

Trainer: “Why have you been eating frogs?”

Me: “The car broke down and was toad away.”

Trainer: “Oh, dear, [My Name], a pun before five o’clock. I was hoping to get later into the evening before having to deal with any puns.”

When They Act Tough, You Call Their Bluff, Part 3

, , , , , , , | Legal | November 27, 2022

I had a brief stint working as a barman in one of Glasgow’s trendier pubs, and as I didn’t drive at the time, I relied on buses to get to and from work. I met some interesting characters on the night buses after midnight, but this story is about the one time somebody tried to mug me, and I’m only telling it because it was utterly bizarre.

After one particularly long shift, followed by a drink with my colleagues, it was about 1:00 am, and I was mentally and physically exhausted. I was standing at my usual bus stop listening to music on my headphones. After a few minutes, somebody walked over, stood in front of me, and smirked at me from an uncomfortably close distance. 

Me: “What is it?”

Would-Be-Mugger: “Phone, wallet, headphones. Now.”

Now, I don’t recommend what I did next but, as I said, it had been a long day and the guy didn’t have any obvious weapon.

Me: “F*** off.”

Would-Be-Mugger: “What?!”

Me: “You heard me. F*** off.”

I was ready for a fight at this point, so I had taken my headphones off, but I wasn’t expecting what happened next.

Would-Be-Mugger: “Oh, umm, hahaha! I nearly got you?! Aye, you’re right. I watched a show today about a guy who pretended to mug people just to see what reaction they would get, but you’re right. It’s late, it’s dark, and people are going to think I’m serious. Would you like some chewing gum, by the way?”

Me: “No, I don’t want any chewing gum. Get lost.”

He ran off down the street, never to be seen again. It was a bizarre end to a long shift.

When They Act Tough, You Call Their Bluff, Part 2
When They Act Tough, You Call Their Bluff

Temporary Manager, Long-Term Jerk

, , , , , , , , | Working | September 23, 2022

In my early twenties, I took a job as the deputy manager of an offsales (liquor store) in Glasgow. I had worked in retail before, but this was my first management role. I was nervously excited about joining the team, but things went pear-shaped very quickly. My boss (the store manager) and I were the only full-time employees. The other four staff members were part-timers, all of whom had very constrained availabilities around their other commitments.

About a month after I joined the team, my boss took a holiday for a week, but whilst she was away, she quite seriously hurt her back and thus went on long-term sick leave. I can’t remember exactly how long that lasted, but I think it was at least a ten-month-long absence.

I was told that our area manager would find us some additional support, and if I was ever in a pinch, then I could phone around the other stores in the area and try to borrow their staff. As you might have guessed, the extra support somehow never quite happened, but I’m proud to say that, with the help of our part-timers pitching in to pick up extra hours, we managed to keep the store open. We routinely placed as one of the best performing stores in our region, sometimes even placing first in sales.

However, there came one week when all of the part-timers were unavailable, and the only way I could make it work was to pick up three consecutive open-to-close shifts by myself on top of my other shifts. At the end of the week, I had something like twenty extra hours on my time sheet.

Finally, the area manager took notice — but only to reprimand me for all of those extra hours! I explained what had happened and he professed ignorance of the fact we were short-staffed. I’m not quite sure what he thought losing the store manager and one of only two full-time employees meant, but clearly, our shop had been a victim of our own success by muddling along.

At this point, the area manager finally organised a temporary manager, and it was actually surprisingly quick to get sorted out. It was only three or four weeks between that call and my meeting our temporary manager on his first day in our shop.

[Temporary Manager] was a bit of a strange character. He was friendly enough but could become very serious and officious about things with little warning. This led to him trying to discipline me, only to get in trouble himself.

Our franchise required us to cash out our till (register) drawers at the end of each shift and put the large notes in our safe after everything was counted. During the shifts, there was a lockbox beneath both of our two counters so that we could safely store paper money and cheques if the drawers became full, and obviously, those needed to be counted at the end of each shift, too.

[Temporary Manager] didn’t believe me and thought the lockboxes stayed where they were until the shop closed. I told him that wasn’t our training or policy, and he quite bluntly told me I was wrong. Then came this conversation.

Temporary Manager: “Hey, [My Name], I need to have a serious word with you.”

Me: “Oh, okay. What’s wrong?”

Temporary Manager: “You didn’t cash out my lockbox last night; it was full overnight.”

Me: “Oh, I wondered why the count was out. Did you see the note I left about it? I didn’t think to check the lockbox on till one because it wasn’t used during my shift.”

Temporary Manager: “I’ve told you before that they get emptied when the shop closes, not at the end of each shift.”

Me: “Well, I’m sorry, but I explained that isn’t store policy or how we’ve been trained.”

Temporary Manager: “I told you you were wrong and you were warned. I’m putting in a written warning about this, and the area manager will be in touch. You can get back to your shift now.”

Fuming, I went back to my shift. I decided that I’d just take it up with the area manager when he spoke to me, but days turned into weeks and I never heard anything more about it. I also noticed that [Temporary Manager] had started clearing the lockboxes after his shift.

Eventually, one of my colleagues had to cover a shift where the area manager was working and came back to me with a story the next day.

Colleague: “Hey, [My Name], I’ve got a funny story for you. Do you remember [Temporary Manager] threatening to discipline you?”

Me: “Remember? I was furious! I never heard anything about it, though, and I noticed that he started cashing out properly, so I assumed that he finally checked the training manual and realised I was right.”

Colleague: “Nope! He really did try to report you. [Area Manager] told me but asked me to keep it quiet. [Temporary Manager] phoned to ask him how to submit a written warning so, obviously, he asked him who it was about and why. As soon as he explained, [Area Manager] told him you were right and that if he didn’t drop it immediately, he would be the one getting a warning.”

Me: “Amazing! I do kind of wish that he had been given a warning, though.”

[Temporary Manager] didn’t stay with us much longer. Our manager recovered about four months later, so he was thanked for filling in and shown the door.

Managerial Support Is In The Toilet

, , , , , , | Right | September 21, 2022

I’ve previously submitted this story about the cinema I used to work for.

One of the notable things about the layout of our cinema that was relevant in that story and in this one was that, whilst there were public toilets on each floor of the building, only those on the first-floor bar area could be accessed without a ticket. On all of the other levels, the toilets were located beyond the concession stands and the theatres themselves, which meant you needed to have a ticket for a show to use them.

We also typically wouldn’t allow people into the theatres far in advance of their films’ start times, but if they were prepped and ready, then we’d start allowing people in about ten minutes before.

One day, a couple turned up about half an hour before their film was due to start.

Me: “I’m sorry, but you can’t enter your theater yet.”

Customer: *Gesturing to his partner* “Can she use the toilet?”

Me: “Go ahead.”

He then waited outside of the bathroom for her, and the two of them walked straight into the theatre, past my annoyed colleagues who had literally just finished cleaning it. Another show was just starting, so I didn’t have time to go and remove them, and technically, the theatre was ready, so I swallowed my irritation and let it go.

Fast forward to a week later. I was suddenly alerted to women screaming about a man acting violently in the ladies’ bathroom. I summoned security immediately using our emergency code and investigated what was happening. Someone had tried to use the tampon machine, and it had swallowed her money. Instead of, you know, asking staff for help, her boyfriend decided to enter the bathroom screaming obscenities at the machine before proceeding to punch it and trying to rip it from the wall.

Just as I started to wonder what the heck I was going to do, security arrived and told me to go back to the end of the hall and prevent further customers from entering until the situation had been resolved.

A few minutes later, my old friends from the week before arrived and we had the following conversation.

Me: “I am really sorry, but I can’t allow you past at the moment. As you might be able to hear, there is an ongoing incident that security is in the middle of dealing with at the moment, so for your safety, we are asking customers to stay back until it’s resolved.”

Customer: “Okay. Can she just go to the toilet, though?”

Me: “Unfortunately, no. As I said, we are not letting anybody through, but there are toilets on level one she can use in the meantime.”

Customer: “Nah, I don’t want to walk down there. Can she not just go?”

Me: “Well, no. And your film doesn’t start for another half-hour, so you’re really too early to let through, irrespective of the security incident, so I’d ask you to please use the facilities on the first floor.”

Customer: “Just let us through, mate.”

Me: “Look. To be honest, I had a very similar conversation with you last week. I let you through so she could use the toilet, and then you both walked into the cinema, ignoring my instructions. I am definitely not able to let you go through at the moment in case you ignore me again.”

The man immediately started shouting a few inches from my face.

Customer: “HOW DARE YOU?! That’s outrageous! If we want to use the toilet and go into the cinema, you have no right to keep us out.”

I tried to stay calm.

Me: “Sir, you can take my advice and use the toilets on the other level, and we will begin letting people in closer to your start time, but until then, I’m going to have to ask you to step back.”

At this point, the police had arrived through the fire escape entrance behind me and were removing the violent customer. One of the managers heard the guy shouting at me and decided to intervene in a completely ineffectual way.

Manager: “Woah, guys. Both of you, please calm down and stop shouting.”

I wasn’t; I double-checked with nearby colleagues later who confirmed I hadn’t raised my voice once.

Manager: “What’s going on?”

Customer: “This guy called me a liar and won’t let me through!”

Manager: “[My Name], is this true?”

Me: “I told the customer that he couldn’t enter the lobby whilst that incident was ongoing and that I couldn’t let him enter his screen so far in advance of the start time, anyway. I reminded him that we had the same conversation a week ago and that, after I let them use the toilets, they walked straight in, ignoring my instructions, so I asked them to use the toilets on another level.”

Manager: “Okay. Well, it’s over now, so let them in.”

The customers marched passed me with their noses in the air and walked straight into the cinema, their need for the loo apparently forgotten. All in all, it was a bit of an eventful shift made all the more frustrating by the duty manager not having my back.

Stubs To Be You

Burn Me And I’ll Gladly Burn You Back

, , , , , , , , , | Working | September 5, 2022

Many years ago, I took a job as a “Data Input Administrator” for a third-party mortgage and home loan company in Glasgow. The job description was rather vague, and the specific nature of my duties only became clear during a week-long training in one of their offices in Yorkshire. We were to remove paperclips and staples from mortgage packs, scan them, and shred the physical copies. If you’re asking yourself why that needed a week’s worth of training in another country, well, that question was raised a lot over that week, and the best answer we got was, “That’s what the process says.”

Anyway, I sleep-walked through the job, absolutely bored out of my tiny little brain, for a couple of months before applying for another job in the same office. This one actually involved processing the applications and preparing the information needed by underwriters — something a bit more interesting and challenging than my previous role as a walking and talking staple remover.

I got the job and noticed that someone else joined the new team at the same time as me, but she was never there and always seemed to be helping out managers in another team (who she was very friendly with). However, I otherwise never really paid attention to this or thought about it.

After about a year, the mortgage crunch hit and hit hard, so we started getting fewer and fewer applications. The business decided to refocus and retrain the majority of staff as debt collectors, but I was relieved to be part of a specialist team, one of the very few “safe” areas that would not be expected to capitalise on human misery. 

Then, I got a letter advising me that my secondment was being ended and that my retraining as a debt collector would commence in two months. I immediately spoke to my manager.

Me: “Hey, [Manager], there seems to have been a mistake. I’ve been told that my secondment is ending, but I’m not on a secondment. This was a permanent post!”

Manager: “Huh, that’s weird. Let me look into it.”

The next day, she came back to me.

Manager: “Hey, [My Name], I’ve got some bad news. I’ve been told that when you and [Colleague] joined the team, there was a permanent position and a secondment. You were the secondment.”

Me: “No, that’s not right. I was never told that this was a secondment. As far as I was and I am concerned, this was permanent.”

Manager: “Well, I did tell them that was your understanding, but they said that this should have been clear. Even if it wasn’t, though, they told me that they have the right to redeploy you, so either way, I’m sorry, but it looks like you’ll be moving.”

Me: “I don’t want to drag [Colleague] down, but this doesn’t make sense. She literally does nothing for this team and she’s only nominally part of it. I literally can’t remember the last time she did any work for us. It seems like utter cronyism that she gets to stay and I’m being moved.”

Manager: “I can see that you’re upset, but I’m not going to talk about [Colleague’s] circumstances. I suggest that you try and make the best of it and don’t do anything hasty.”

I wasn’t hasty. I went home, updated my CV, and had a new job lined up two weeks later. I then typed up a two-page resignation letter detailing the various ways I had been misled and let down since joining and the evident favouritism at play, and I handed it to my boss for onward submission.

Manager: “Uhhh, [My Name], I get that you’re upset, and I honestly don’t blame you, but are you sure you want to burn your bridges like this?”

Me: “[Manager], I don’t want you to take this personally, but h*** yes, I do.”

Two weeks later, I spent the last ten minutes of my employment distributing a couple of dozen copies of my resignation letter throughout the building before I peaced out. I figured people probably wouldn’t care about my personal circumstances, but they ought to know the type of company they were working for.