When Working Isn’t Working

, , , | | Working | May 29, 2018

(Our company needs a few more hands, and we hire some new workers who have left their CV with us. We take care of all the paperwork, have a specialised doctor visit them, take their measurements, hand out working clothes and PPE, arrange a 12-hour safety course, take their pictures, and obtain access badges for the shipyard. The process takes about a week. Finally, they’re all set for their first day of actual work. Right before lunch break, one of them is back in the office, in civvies, with his working clothes in a bundle under his arm. He drops it on a bench.)

Worker: “I realised I’m not cut out for this job.”

(He just turned and leaved. My colleague screamed.)

It Wasn’t Safe To Ask About Safety

, , , , , | Working | February 21, 2018

(We do industrial maintenance. It’s hard work, and it can be dangerous, so it doesn’t quite appeal to the best and brightest people. Often you have to get on with the human material that’s at hand and rely on their common sense. This story is reported to me from a project manager.)

Project Manager: “I spent the morning on the phone talking to [Foreman]. They were working in a confined space and left [Worker] out as their monitor. After a while, [Worker] realized he didn’t have a clue what to do in case of an emergency, so he up and went to where [Different Company] was working and asked them what he ought to do. They alerted [Customer]’s safety officers. They tore [Foreman] a new one. Then, they called me and tore me a new one, too, and [Worker] is still wondering what he did wrong. We’ve been complaining for years that he ought to pay more attention to safety.”

Blue Collar Sees Red

, , | Working | September 9, 2017

(I have graduated from university, and I now work doing non-destructive controls in industry. Today, I’m working with a colleague who holds a degree in engineering. We’re doing some testing in a district heating station, in the middle of a high-rise building area. For health and safety reasons, we’re donning hardhats, disposable overalls, and safety boots. A middle-aged woman passes by, with her grandson in tow.)

Grandmother: “See? You need to study and get good grades, otherwise you’ll end up a blue collar worker like them!”

Wake Me Up When September Begins

| Italy | Working | October 28, 2014

(I’m in the boss’ office discussing some issues. While I’m there, the boss’ phone rings. I only hear his half of the conversation.)

Boss: “…no, don’t even go there. It’s July now and that will be in September. What’s the use talking about it? It’s like talking about going to bed with Claudia Schiffer.”

Me: “Er, no, boss. September is going to happen eventually.”

(He cracked up at that and had to end the call…)

Genderally Clean

| Italy | Working | October 10, 2014

(We finish working in a refinery at 13:30 and rush out still in our work clothes so we can eat at a local diner. I go to the toilet first. I’m wearing blue overalls and carrying a sack with my clean clothes; my hair is stuck and spiky from wearing a hard hat all morning and I have grease smeared on my nose. In the corridor leading to the ladies’ toilet, a cleaner armed with a mop confronts me in a broken Italian.)

Cleaner: “You no here! Here is ladies!”

Me: “I know.”

(I try to pass but she cuts me off with her mop.)

Cleaner: “HERE IS LADIES!”


(She gives me the stink-eye and lets me pass. After a wash and a change into civilian clothes, I meet her again on the way out.)

Cleaner: “Oh! You are lady.”

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