H2-Slow To Act

, , , , , | Working | February 26, 2019

Back in the early 2000s, our lab where we analyzed drug products moved to a new facility. This location was fully contained and boasted, among other things, an automatic washer for laboratory glassware — quite important when you’re analyzing stuff.

Despite this “state of the art” facility, some of us started noticing spots on our glassware. I, for one, began rewashing the glassware myself, by hand. My boss didn’t like my spending my time that way, but I managed to make it sufficiently speedy that he pretty much was unaware I was doing it.

Some years later, several of us were having trouble with our assays. Management basically refused to listen to our complaint about the glassware, and the problem seemed to get worse and worse. Finally, a young PhD took it upon himself to investigate further and determined that the spots on our glassware were not merely water spots — which shouldn’t have been there, anyway — but were residual detergent, quite capable of messing up many assays.

He then investigated the dishwashing facility and determined that not only were they not rinsing glassware with deionized water, but they also weren’t even rinsing it with tap water. It seems the washer was plumbed wrong and was recycling wash water where it should have used fresh water.

All of this could have severely compromised our analytical results — which were being reported to the government — but management just swept the problem under the rug like it never happened!

Pizza Name Calling

, , , , | Working | February 25, 2019

(A popular pizza chain is having a promotion where most of their pizzas are heavily discounted, but only with pickup rather than delivery. Anticipating that the store might be annoyingly crowded because of the sale, I place my order online, thinking it will be a quick in and out that way. I keep a close eye on their online tracker, and as soon as it indicates my pizza should be done, I head over to the store, which is just a one-minute walk down the block I live on. It’s a small location, and it is completely PACKED with probably close to fifty high-schoolers and college kids, all placing orders in-store and then waiting for them, from the looks of it. I awkwardly elbow my way through them towards the pickup counter.)

Me: “Hi. Here to pick up the [pizza] for [My Name]? According to your online tracker, it should be done.”

Worker #1: “No, doesn’t look like it is, sorry. The tracker isn’t accurate right now because of the rush.” *immediately starts to turn towards the next person*

Me: “Wait, sorry, but are you sure? It does also say, ‘Ready for pickup,’ for my order on your in-store screen, right here. Could you double-check, please? The order for [My Name]?”

Worker #1: *taps the computer screen* “Yeah, no, they’re only just starting to prepare that one, so it’ll be another ten- to fifteen-minute wait. It’s just really busy right now. Next, please?”

(I wait, standing right beside the pickup counter, since the crowd is very loud and I’m worried I might miss them calling out my name, otherwise. Ten minutes go by, then fifteen. Lots of names are being called out for pizzas that are done, eventually including people I saw come in and order in-store after I was already there. Every other minute or two, [Worker #2] will also repeat a list of orders that have been ready for a while but not picked up yet. It’s approaching the twenty-minute mark, and my name has not once been called yet, so I’m just about to go up again and investigate, when…)

Worker #2: *checks* “I also still have the order for [Other Girl that has been called at least six times now]? [Other Girl]?” *no response from the crowd; the worker sighs* “And then I also still have the pizza for [My Name]? [My Name], has she finally arrived yet?!”

Me: “What? I’ve been standing right here for the past twenty minutes, and this is the first time you’re announcing my order!”

Worker #2: *defensively* “Your name was called as soon as it was done.”

Me: “And I might not have been in yet at that exact time since I ordered online, but why didn’t you repeat it even once when you’ve been repeating all the others?”

Worker #2: *now outright annoyed* “Well, why did you just silently stand there, instead of coming to the counter yourself once you came in?!”

Me: “Because that’s exactly what I did, and she—“ *points to [Worker #1]* “–told me it would be another fifteen-minute wait!”

([Worker #1] and [Worker #2] turn to each other and share a brief “deer in headlights” look.)

Worker #2: *still grumpily* “Well, it’s hectic, okay? Look, you have your pizza now, so just go home and enjoy it.” *turns to the next person*

(Obviously, I was annoyed, both at the unnecessary wait and [Worker #2]’s complete lack of apology and attitude like I was just another typical NAR customer. However, it WAS pretty chaotic in the store, and both workers were probably between 15 and 18 years old, so I also felt bad for them and decided to let it slide. But then, I finally got home with my now-lukewarm pizza, opened the box, and found that it had onions on it, even though I specifically requested them off on the order form because I’m allergic. That pushed me over the edge, and I sent in a complaint to corporate after all. A few days later, I received an apology where they admitted some of their locations couldn’t properly keep up with the extra demand from the promotion, and they were sending me a coupon code for a free pizza so I could give them another try when they were less rushed, at their expense. Fair enough, so I decided to give them another chance a week later. I tried to place an online order… and discovered that the coupon actually worked as a BOGO deal, where I’d have to purchase at least one pizza myself to qualify for my complimentary pizza. This is where I just gave up and vowed to not buy from this pizza chain again.)

Doesn’t Get How References Work

, , , , | Working | February 25, 2019

(I am a store manager at a coffee chain. Our employees are hired by a separate HR and recruiting department. I need new people so they send me twenty-year-old who has passed the interview process and seems eager to start working. I tell her the basics, give her her shifts for the next four weeks — in Finland you are required to give employees their shift lists quite early, so they can plan their lives outside of work: childcare, studies, hobbies, etc. — and start training her. Training lasts two shifts and goes okay. After those two first shifts, she stops coming to work. She does not show up for her next shift and does not answer her phone or emails. After a week and five missed shifts, I decide to email her and let her know that, since she was on her trial period and had not given any explanation for her absence, she is fired. A week after the email she shows up for work as if nothing happened and asks where her apron is. I ask her to come to my office.)

Me: “Did you not see my email or the message I sent to your phone? You failed to show up on your shifts for weeks — shifts that you agreed to take, by the way — and did not answer your phone for over a week, so I’m terminating our contract. You are no longer employed here.”

New Starter: “Come oooon! I’m sorry, okay, but I was so busy with, like, studies and other stuff and did not have time to come to work. I have time now, so I can work the rest of my shifts this month. It’s not that serious. You are a student, too; you should know what it’s like when you are busy. You can’t just fire me!”

(But I can and I do, even though she kicks up a fuss, seems to think it’s super unfair, and even threatens to spam our Facebook with bad reviews. Fast forward five months: I get a call from a recruiter for another coffee chain.)

Recruiter: “Did you have an employee called [New Starter] working for you?”

Me: “Oh, her. Yes, we did. Why?”

Recruiter: “Well, we are considering hiring her and she used you as a reference on her CV. She said she worked for you for four months; is that accurate?”

(The effing bonehead had actually used me as her only CV reference, with the right phone number and everything, and made up a work history where she was an appreciated member of our team, a reliable worker, and a customer service specialist. I had fun correcting these mistakes, and I do not think she got the job at the other coffee chain after I told them about her work ethics. Lying on your CV is a delicate skill, people, and HR actually does occasionally check the references.)

Diving Head-First Into Entitlement

, , , , | Learning | February 23, 2019

(I’m teaching swimming classes, and one of my former students asks if she can interview me for school. She is ten years old, she has to write an essay for schools, and she has picked diving as a subject. I used to be a diver, and she wants to include an interview with “someone who was a diver.” I agree to meet with her for the interview after my classes have ended. I come out to meet the student and encounter her mother.)

Me: “All right, are you ready?”

Mother: “Oh, no, no, she went to the next group, so she has class now.”

Me: “Oh… Well, I can wait for her to finish.”

Mother: “There is no need to; I have the questions here, so we can work ahead.”

Me: “Eh… Sure… I guess… Wow, she has very neat handwriting!”

Mother: “Oh, she didn’t write the questions down; I did.”

(I feel a bit uneasy, because I promised to do the interview with the girl, and now her mother is doing the interview. But, if that helps the girl to get a good grade… there’s no harm in this, right?)

Mother: “Thank you so much for your time! I can’t wait to start working this out.”

Me: “Oh, [Girl] can’t wait to get started on this presentation?”

Mother: “No, no, she has better things to do.”

(That creeping feeling is back again.)

Me: “You really like helping her, don’t you?”

Mother: “Of course; that’s what mothers are for!”

Me: “But shouldn’t she be doing this herself, then?”

Mother: “Don’t worry; there’s plenty of time for her to do things on her own. You know how kids are. One day they just don’t want to listen to their mothers anymore and then they just fly out. Besides, I’m having way too much fun! When I was small, we didn’t have such things as Powerpoints… or even videos! And their homework sheets are just so much fun to do! I always wonder what she’ll come home with.”

(The mother laughs as I realize she is not only making this presentation for her daughter, she is also doing her homework! The girl is by no means a spoiled brat, but things suddenly click about passive behavior and always giving up if something doesn’t work out the first try. Then, the lesson ends.)

Girl: “Mom, did you do the interview?” *her mother nods* “Oh, and you packed the wrong shirt for this class; this shirt is too heavy to swim with. I told you that last time.”

Mother: “Oh, I am so sorry! I won’t pack that shirt again.”

Me: “You know, why don’t you pack your bags yourself? Then you can be sure you have the right stuff!”

(The girl just stares at me as if I’ve told her I teach dinosaurs how to swim. The mother laughs.)

Mother: “Oh, dear, she’s much too young for that! “

(I know my mother was strict with ordering me to pack my own bags at age four — checking it afterward — and teaching me about consequences if I forgot something, but this was the other side of the spectrum. This girl will have to go to high school in two years and then face the harsh reality where she has to do her own homework and her own reports and pack her own bag — things her mother has sheltered her from. If nothing changes, I’ve witnessed the birth of a special snowflake, caused by mother’s love.)

A Story Worthy Of Print

, , , , , , , | Working | February 22, 2019

My mom got a printer, and after only a few months of light use, it died. She called in and got a replacement under the two-year warranty. A few months later, the replacement died, and she got a new one. Rinse and repeat every few months for the entirety of the warranty, with her growing more and more frustrated with each new machine. Finally, her fifth replacement stopped working after only three months, immediately after she put $50 of ink cartridges in it, and she called in to troubleshoot and see if it could be fixed. It couldn’t. They informed her that since she was out of warranty she would not get another free replacement, and there was nothing they could do about the money she’d wasted on the now-useless brand-specific ink, but they would offer her a 15% discount on her next printer purchase. She declined the coupon, as she didn’t intend to buy another printer from that company ever again.

My tiny, gentle, mild-mannered, and usually extremely calm mother then carried the printer outside, threw it down the balcony steps, picked up an axe, and hacked it to pieces. She said it felt fantastic, and the best part was when she forgot there was still paper inside, so it started spewing paper everywhere on the way down the stairs.

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