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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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‘Cause You’re An Intern, WA DA DA WAP WA DAAAAAA!

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

I recently graduated as a mature student. I am thirty-six but have always been somewhat baby-faced and so am often mistaken for being younger than I actually am. I manage to secure an internship at a company I used to work for prior to attending university but in a different department. I had left to attend university in order to switch careers.

A large part of my role is finding ways to improve our products, which sometimes means proposing new ways of doing things in other departments and asking for said departments’ input and cooperation.

Most of my coworkers are friendly and open to ideas and suggestions, and we get along great… except [Coworker #1]. She works as a supervisor in the same department I used to work in. I have no idea what I did, but she is always combative and hostile toward me. She’s fine with every other coworker except me for some reason. It’s important to note that [Coworker #1] did not work for the company when I worked there. She was hired sometime after I left.

During a meeting, I have to suggest some improvements and tweaks to [Coworker #1]’s department to help with a major change we are planning for one of our products. She doesn’t take it well. She tries to shoot down every proposal point I give her, saying things like, “That’s just not how it’s done,” or, “You can’t expect our department to do that.” Having worked in that department for years as a manager, my suggestions are always tailored to what her department can do. I should note it’s only MY proposals she is rejecting.

Eventually, we have to end the meeting. She says — obviously insincerely — that she will take what I’ve said “into consideration.”

We end the meeting. My manager says he’ll have a word with [Coworker #1]’s manager.

The next day, she storms up to my desk.

Me: “Oh, hi, [Coworker #1]. How can I—”

Coworker #1: “Who do you think you are, telling me how to run my department?”

Me: “That’s my job. We need everyone’s cooperation to—”

Coworker #1: “No. You’re an intern. You don’t get to tell anyone what to do. What do you know about having a real job? The classroom is nothing like the real world.”

Me: “Actually, I—”

Coworker #1: “Don’t you dare tell me how to do my job. You don’t know the first thing about it.”

Me: “Actually, I know a lot about [Department] because I used to work there. And not just work in it; I was a manager.”

Coworker #1: “Ugh. If you’re going to lie, at least make it believable.”

[Coworker #1] insults me a few more times about being some upstart student who doesn’t know her a*** from her elbow and then storms off again. 

The moment she leaves, I send my manager a message to let him know what happened. Her behaviour is reported to Human Resources, and she is disciplined and put on a warning. Thankfully, she is smart enough to leave me alone after that, but she is still combative in meetings, trying to shoot down every proposal I lay out more aggressively than before, but her manager overrides her.

Then, one day, I overhear her talking to [Coworker #2] in the break room.

Coworker #1: “I can’t believe they’re making us follow her stupid proposals. It’s not like she knows anything about [department].”

Coworker #2: “Oh, you mean [My Name]?”

Coworker #1: “Yeah.”

Coworker #2: “Oh, didn’t you know? She used to run [department] for years. She left to go to university.”

[Coworker #1] went silent.

You’d think that, after that, [Coworker #1] would finally see the light and apologise for the way she treated me, or at least stop being so hostile, but she doubled down and continued to be combative toward me in meetings, and she started to question every little thing I did. When my internship ended, I was hired permanently in the research and development team, which is exactly where I wanted to be. [Coworker #1], however, became even more hostile until she eventually left to work somewhere else. I can’t say that I miss her.

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¡Que Embarazada!, Part 3

, , , , , , , | Friendly | September 13, 2021

Over the summer holidays, my class lost a member. [Classmate] is now a mother to an adorable little girl. The birth was in August, right before the school term started.

She spent a great deal of the last school year pregnant. And once she began to show, it exploded into a big scandal, and [Classmate] was expelled in May due to her pregnancy.

She eventually argued her rights to an education and reached a settlement with the school, where she was allowed to return and continue studying, but she was still relentlessly mocked by basically everyone for her pregnancy and motherhood — including, shamefully enough, my girlfriend and me. Both of us were her classmates, and we were rather nasty about our opinions on her pregnancy. We needled her relentlessly through most of September.

Six months or so later, in March, my girlfriend gave birth to our own adorable little girl. Turns up I knocked her up in June. That meant she was three months pregnant when we were mocking [Classmate]’s pregnancy.

The irony wasn’t lost on either of us. We learnt our lesson and promptly apologised to [Classmate]. She forgave us, thankfully, and our daughters are now playmates.

¡Que Embarazada!, Part 2
¡Que Embarazada!

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