Grit Your Teeth And Admit You Were Wrong

, , , , , | Working | June 7, 2021

I work as a repairer and maintainer for a grounds care company that basically looks after the local authorities’ landscaping and does various seasonal grounds maintenance tasks. One summer, our company purchases some new-to-the-market hand-propelled gritting machines in readiness for the next winter season.

Six months later, the snow falls and the gritting machines are taken out and put to use. An hour later, the operator returns to the workshop holding the drive belt in his hand, reporting that the machine lasted two minutes and the belt keeps coming off every time it’s replaced. I inspect the machine and see a major design flaw, and in two days, I manufacture a remedy for the fault.

I phone the manufacturer.

Me: “Your hand gritters seem to have a design flaw. I’ve made a modification, but I want to know if fitting it will affect any warranties we have with your machine.”

Manufacturer: “What flaw? What’s wrong with it?”

Me: “The operator used it for two minutes, and the belt chokes up with the grit and keeps coming off.”

Manufacturer: “Your operator is using the machine wrong; there’s no flaw with the machine.”

Me: “How can he be using it wrong? Grit is loaded in and you push it as you walk.”

Manufacturer: “Well, he must be doing it wrong. We’ve had no problems and no other customers have complained about it.”

Me: “I think the part of the country where I am has had the first snowfalls this winter, so no customers will complain until they get snow and have the opportunity to use your product.”

Manufacturer: “There’ve been plenty of customers using them and you are the only ones to complain. There’s no fault with the machine; it’s your operator.”

I give up and go ahead with fitting the modification, and the machine works flawlessly.

Another month passes and the whole of the UK is hit with major snow. I get a phone call from the gritter manufacturer.

Manufacturer: “Are you the guy who called about the belt constantly coming off our hand gritter?”

Me: “Yes.”

Manufacturer: “I recall you mentioned a modification. Did you design one and did it work?”

Me: “The gritter works fine now.”

Manufacturer: “Ah, great. Was it the modification that sorted the problem?”

Me: “Have you been getting problems?”

Manufacturer: “Erm… no, erm… Nobody else has reported any problems.”

Me: “Well, our gritter is fine now.”

Manufacturer: “Was it the modification that fixed it?”

Me: “It was.”

Manufacturer: “Could you email us the details of the modification? We’d like to look at it.”

Me: “You don’t need it; you said you had no reported problems.”

Manufacturer: “We, err, don’t. It’s just out of interest.”

Me: “You weren’t interested in the initial complaint, so I’m not interested in showing you the design. Besides, according to you, it’s not needed.”

I hung up, but over the next week, I received many emails requesting the design, with their wording still denying any fault with the product.

The next summer, our company received their new product catalogue. The gritter was no longer listed for sale.

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Yup, He Made It Weird

, , , , , | Working | May 20, 2021

I work odd hours and as such sleep odd hours, so I have a large sign on my door that says, “No Soliciting! — SERIOUSLY! — Don’t ring the bell. — Don’t make it weird.”

It’s cute, it has a mustache, and it keeps 95% of everyone away, so I have a secondary sticker next to my doorbell that says, “DO NOT KNOCK, RING, OR SCREAM unless you want me to call 911.” It helps keep that extra little percentage away. 

Cue doorbell. I answer the door in pajamas at 4:00 pm as I didn’t get to sleep until 2:00 pm. This guy is there with a clipboard and no mask, standing way too close to my door; thankfully, my outer door is all glass so it makes a good shield. 

He starts going on about how I need a lawn service and he can help me, as I can’t take care of it myself; my yard is nothing but weeds without a blade of grass in sight. Would I like to sign up for lawn care? (For my dead lawn?)

Me: “Umm, sorry, I missed your name.”

Lawn Dude: “Oh, sorry. [Lawn Dude].”

Me: “Hi, [Lawn Dude]. To double-check, can you read?”

Lawn Dude: “Um… read?”

Me: “Yes, read… like words?”

Lawn Dude: “Yes, I went to [College].”

Me: “Oh, good.”

I point to the sign and the sticker.

Me: “Can you read those? And have a nice day.”

I shut the door and started to walk away when I heard [Lawn Dude] cursing about what a b**** I am and how I wasted all of his time and where I could stick it. 

Maybe I need to get another sign?

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Y’all Ever Heard Of Pruning?

, , , | Working | December 17, 2020

After doing an apprenticeship as a gardener — with a very nice boss — I work in various garden companies. All of them are small family businesses where all bosses and many of the family members are terrible employers. 

My first boss after the apprenticeship is a choleric person who takes every small occasion to yell at people for minutes.

One time, the senior boss asks me to make the garden around his house look nice for his son’s soon-to-be-wedding. I do that. I clean up dead leaves, cut back dead plants, rake the earth, and so on. After the lunch break:

Senior Boss: “You killed the Lysimachia, you d*** fool! Why did you kill the Lysimachia?”

He roars some more with a red face, but those are the only coherent words in his rant I can understand. I had no idea what he is talking about. Lysimachia is the name of a large family of plants ranging from tall subshrubs to creepers, and for some reason, I think of the last variant, Lysimachia nummularia (moneywort).

A few minutes later, his wife comes to me.

Boss’s Wife: “Why did you destroy the Lysimachia?! We pay you as a trained gardener and you obviously can’t tell the difference between cultivated plants and weeds!”

I try to ask her what kind of Lysimachia they are talking about and what I have done with it, but she won’t let me have my say before walking away. 

A few minutes later:

Junior Boss: “I am f****** disappointed that you killed the Lysimachia! You should have known better! You are a trained gardener!”

Much, much later it dawned on me. It was autumn. The Lysimachia vulgaris (garden loosestrife) in their house garden had only brown, woody stems left. I thought it looked unsightly and cut the woody parts so low above the ground that they couldn’t be seen. 

The plant obviously grew back normally the next spring. 

What did they think I did with it? That I went to great lengths to dig up the large root bale to “destroy” it? Without leaving a noticeable hole in the ground?

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A Feminist On The Roof

, , , | Working | November 19, 2020

I live in an area where demossing roofs is necessary. I, a female, demoss every fall because my husband is afraid of heights. A man comes to the driveway while I’m outside.

Man: “Hello, ma’am, I’m selling my services to clean your roof.”

Me: “Oh, no, thank you.”

Man: “Ma’am, I already took a look from across the street and there is a lot of moss on your roof.”

There’s a little on the shady side but nothing bad at all.

Me: “It’s in fine shape, thank you.”

Man: “Listen. Your roof is atrocious; it really needs cleaning right away.”

He then hears my husband through an open window.

Man: “Oh, let me speak to your husband; he’ll know more about this than you.”

Me: “Nah, bye.”

And I walked back inside.

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I’ll Start Reading The Sign If You Start Reading My Face!

, , , , | Right | October 16, 2020

I work for a yard care service in my teens. We mow lawns, tend to bushes, and just do general yard work. I am sent out to a new client. When I get to the street, I find a row of houses without any visible house numbers, so I’m trying to figure out which of them is the actual address where I’m supposed to be working.

I go up and knock on the door of the house I think it is and a man answers. He barely glances at me and points toward a “No Trespassing” sign.

Man: “No soliciting!”

He then slams the door in my face. I’m a bit startled, but I move on to the next-door neighbors, who end up confirming that the original house was the one I was looking for.

Cell phones aren’t that common at this point, and I don’t have one, so I can’t just call back to ask my boss what to do. I decide to make another attempt. I have a push mower, which I haul up and place in front of the door before knocking. The same man answers and opens his mouth as if he is about to shout, and then he notices the lawnmower.

Me: “Hi! I’m with [Company]. I heard you wanted to have your lawn mowed?”

Man: “Oh. Uh, yeah.”

After that, I am able to get the details about what he wants done and things proceed smoothly.

Two weeks later, I’m back for the next service, and as I’m getting set up, I notice a set of keys laying on his driveway. I pick them up and head up to the door to turn them over. Once again, I knock and he answers, and once again, he barely glances at me and points toward the sign.

Man: “No soliciting!”

It is a practically identical repeat of our first interaction, complete with him slamming the door in my face. I’m standing there, kind of bemused and about to knock again, when the door suddenly cracks open.

Man: *Sheepish whisper* “You’re the grass cutter, aren’t you?”

Me: “Yep! I just saw these keys in your driveway and wanted to hand them over.”

His eyes got wide when he saw them and he quickly took them. From that point on, he never again slammed the door in my face when something would require me to knock on it.

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