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An Entitlement Sandwich

, , , , | Right | September 14, 2021

Three friends and I are going to a sandwich chain for lunch. It’s set up so you start at one end (with a big ORDER HERE sign) and pay at the other (with a PAY HERE sign). It’s how every store in this chain is set up; it’s not hard to figure out.

We line up and start the process of making our selections. Two people get behind us, so now there are several people making a very conspicuous line that, wonder of wonders, just happens to be following the signs.

I’m next in line and as I get started on ordering, a man walks in. He plants himself in front of the veggies and just stares at the menu.

The employee and I shrug at each other. My sandwich gets made and the employee moves on in the line.

Customer: *Bellows* “I WAS HERE FIRST! GOD, WHY IS IT SO HARD TO GET SOME SERVICE IN THIS COUNTRY?!”

The whole line is staring at him like he just lost his mind. Aside from the fact that he came in long after my friends and the other customers, he’s standing in the middle of the ordering line!

Employee: *Politely* “Sir, all of these people were here before you. You’re not even in line. The line starts over there behind the man in the green jacket.”

Customer: *Still yelling* “NO! I WAS IN THIS SPOT BEFORE THOSE STUPID KIDS AND I REFUSE TO MOVE!”

Employee: *With the sweetest smile in the world* “No, you were not, sir. And if you won’t get in line properly, then I guess I just won’t serve you until after the man in the green jacket is finished getting his order.”

He ranted and raved while the next four people got their sandwiches. The girl behind the counter never responded to him; she just kept making sandwiches. 

My friends and I stayed inside to eat just so we could watch his theatrics. To be fair, it was entertaining to see him grow increasingly dramatic with waving hands and stomping feet. He spent a while ranting about the failure of customer service, about how she would never amount to anything in her life, and about how she had been trash in the past, was trash now, and would remain trash in the future.

And he did it all in the face of this completely indifferent employee, who smiled so sweetly and brightly at every other person she served. It was the most professional middle finger I had ever seen someone give a rude person.

When he realized that the employee just didn’t care and continued to ignore him, he finally stomped out and tore out of the parking lot with squealing tires.

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Fishing For A Reason To Fire Him

, , , , , | Working | September 14, 2021

I think I’m a good boss. I look after my team, I’m fair with them if they are fair to me, and we all get on really well… all apart from [Employee #1]. [Employee #1] hates anyone with a “manager” title; it’s the same with the whole management team. In his words, we are “all out to get him.”

Employee #2: “Oh, [Employee #1] texted me and said he’s sick.”

Me: “He needs to call in to Human Resources.”

Employee #2: “But I’ve told you already.”

Me: “I know, but they deal with his pay and make sure he gets his sick pay. They also are the ones that mark him as absent. You need to call them ASAP if you don’t want to be marked as late or AWOL.”

Employee #2: “Oh, yeah, that makes sense. I will tell him.”

The day goes on. With a man down, everyone has to pitch in. I end up doing some of [Employee #1]’s work to get us through. I get a call from HR telling me [Employee #1] hasn’t clocked and hasn’t called. Instead of just having a sick day, he now has to have a disciplinary as it’s not the first time.

I give him a call to see if I can get him to call HR and save himself. No answer from the house phone and no answer from the mobile phone. Out of interest, I check his Facebook, and a picture of him fishing — this morning — was added thirty minutes ago.

I have to pull him into a serious disciplinary meeting, where he admits faking being ill, calls us all Nazis, and storms out.

We fire him that month.

Employee #1: “You’ve always been out to get me!”

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Gotta Love Consequences

, , , , , | Legal | September 14, 2021

This happened when my parents went on their honeymoon in Spain. Back then, there were ID checks each time you transferred from one nation to another, and the one at the France-Spain border in particular had a queue going on for miles.

My father, who was driving, moved to the emergency lane, went past a line of 100+ cars, and merged back into the queue just before the Border Police shack.

Out of the shack came a French gendarme with the red and green traffic baton. He singled out my parents’ car and directed them to move onto the median strip. Once they were there, he put the baton under his armpit and walked back inside the shack while the other motorists jeered and cheered.

It was more than an hour before my parents were allowed to join the queue again.

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Karma Can Be Deadly

, , , , , , | Working | September 14, 2021

Many years ago, I worked in an office that had an office food thief. I was occasionally a victim, maybe once every three or four weeks. I was in the habit of eating the same lunch every day, which included a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich.

One day, I realized that I was out of both grape jelly and peanut butter. No big deal, I thought, and I made a sandwich with cashew butter and strawberry preserves, instead. When lunchtime rolled around, I went to the break room only to find that my lunch bag was sitting on the counter and a couple of very upset human resources people were waiting for me.

Apparently, the food thief had an anaphylactic reaction to my sandwich and had to be carted off in an ambulance. HR started asking me questions about why I poisoned my lunch, but every question they asked was met with me asking what this had to do with my lunch and why they were tampering with my food.

Finally, it seemed as though they were ready to fire me. They demanded I explain myself. I pulled the untouched half of the sandwich out of the bag and took a big bite, then another, and finished it with a third bite.

Me: “There. I ate it. Maybe you should ask the thief why they’re stealing food when they obviously are allergic to either cashews or strawberries?”

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You Shall Not Pass! Unless You Clean Up Your Act

, , , , , , | Working | September 13, 2021

I happened to move shortly before the health crisis hit, and as a result, the job I had lined up fell through. Now, a year later, I’ve begun working a job that I am frankly overqualified for. I have previously had jobs as a welder and machinist before becoming a team lead in the workshop I was in, and then I worked as a production engineer in an electronics factory. 

Now, I am an assistant in the shop of a college that teaches manufacturing technology. I am not an instructor; instead, I am responsible for inventory and maintenance tasks, managing the tools and equipment, tracking what is being used, repairing tools or ordering new ones if things break, signing out machines and tools for the students who come in to work on their projects, and making sure they are in good shape when the students are finished.

It should be noted that I am a relatively small woman and am no stranger to some coworkers initially not taking me seriously in industrial jobs.

One day, a new student comes in to use a lathe. He initially goes to his instructor before the instructor brings him to me to check him in and record the equipment usage. He scowls and just generally seems irritated to me, but nothing strikes me as out of the ordinary until the end of the day, when he leaves without having me check him off the lathe, and without cleaning up the metal shavings and cutting oils from the machine. Okay, that’s kind of annoying but no big deal. I clean up the machine and close up the shop.

The next day, he is in again. Similar routine as yesterday. He goes to the instructor and seems annoyed when the instructor brings him to me.

Me: “Okay, I put you on lathe B. By the way, I cleaned up for you yesterday, but don’t forget that cleaning the tools and machine when you’re done is your responsibility.”

He grunts, which I take as an acknowledgment, and goes about the day normally. This time, he leaves earlier than yesterday, and once again, he does not clean up. Metal shavings are everywhere, the cutting tools have oils all over them and are strewn about randomly, some crumpled paper towels he used to wipe things are still on the table next to the machine, and a drill bit is still in a chuck in the tailstock. It isn’t anything particularly unusual for a machine in use, since machining can be very messy, but it is definitely not an acceptable condition. 

I realize I can use this chance to teach the guy a lesson. One benefit of the health crisis is that we have fewer students who will need to use a lathe this term than we have lathes. I leave the machine exactly as it is, allowing the oils to slowly gum up and get sticky as they tend to do when exposed to air. It isn’t too bad after only one day, but this continues. Every day he comes in, I put him on the same machine that has not been cleaned at all. He looks increasingly frustrated, and he usually cleans a little when he comes in, but he clearly is not getting the message as, day by day, the machine gets into worse and worse shape. 

I let the other instructors know what’s happening and my intent. We knew that besides my reminder, he was specifically told the same things in his orientation class, which taught shop protocol and such. He took a test on those protocols, which required a 100% score in order to be allowed to use any tools or machines. He has no excuse.

We all watch and allow this to happen for two weeks, with him coming in for around four hours a day, four days a week. Every day I put him on the same machine, and it becomes an absolutely horrific mess.

Along the way, we hear stories from other students, since the shop is very informal and everybody chats, about him calling me the “cleaning lady” and complaining about the machines always being a mess. He tells people I am bad at my job, and, my favorite, when another student reminded him that everybody was responsible for cleaning their machine and tools, he said, “Cleaning is woman’s work,” and that it was “that b****’s job” to clean up.

So, after two weeks, he still hasn’t cleaned up but has finished all of his classwork on the lathe. Nonetheless, when he is brought to me and tells me he needs to get on a mill, I ignore him and tell him that he is on lathe B. This pisses him off.

Idiot: “I said I need a mill! Are you deaf?!”

And he generally insults me more, but I will not tell him anything other than, “I have you on lathe B.”

Complaining to the instructors doesn’t help him, as they will not give him the overview and instructions for his mill projects, while they reiterate that he is on lathe B. By this point, everybody in the shop, students included, knows what is going on. Somehow, though, the idiot student still does not get the message. I am told that he has gone on to insult me, insult women in general, and complain to one of the instructors who is also director of the manufacturing program, who then apparently gave him an earful. 

I then get to relish the sweet, sweet reward of this idiot coming into the tool room, effectively my office in the workshop, with the director following him silently.

Idiot: “Uh, okay… Do you just want me to clean the machine so I can get on the mill?”

Director: “No, that’s not what I said. If this were a job, you would have been fired ages ago. I told you that she is the authority in the shop. I told you that you need to clean your station, she told you that you need to clean your station, and your peers told you that you need to clean your station, and you ignored all that. Then, you came to me to spout off a pile of bulls*** about men and women. Every single class in this program requires my approval before the system will even let a student register for a class, so if you don’t want to drop out or switch majors, this is what you are going to do. You are going to apologize for not cleaning up, for your stupidity and ignorance, and for your rudeness. You are going to beg her for forgiveness, and then you are going to do every single thing she asks you to do for the rest of the term, whether it has anything to do with what you were doing or not. If she asks you to sharpen a drill bit, you will sharpen the drill bit. If she asks you to carry some stock metal, you will do it. And every time you come to the shop, before you leave, you are going to make sure that not only your machine, but every machine is absolutely spotless. Understand?”

I don’t remember the exact response after that, but I did actually quite enjoy teaching him how to clean everything off using an industrial degreaser for the caked-on, congealed oils and then how to re-oil the machine afterward to get it back into working condition. He actually did as instructed and spent about six hours giving the machine the most thorough, detailed cleaning I have ever seen, and after a few more weeks of reflecting and sweeping up the entire shop every day, his attitude really took a turn for the better. By the end of the term, we actually got along pretty well, although I definitely give him a hard time pretty often. We don’t have any classes over the summer, but I am actually looking forward to him coming back in the fall term.

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