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Do NOT Mess With Your Employees’ Breaks

, , , , | Working | June 15, 2022

The tech support company I work for has a lot of issues retaining employees, and the few that do stick around are pretty good at their jobs. One day, an opportunity comes up that they are looking to train someone to be the floor manager of the call center since the manager that was there recently left. (Yep, due to upper management and ownership; this is the reason they have issues keeping people.)

A couple of the senior techs suggest that I put my name in the hat to do it, but having been friends with the last floor manager and knowing everything that went on with him and why he left, I want nothing to do with it. Plus, I managed a small crew at a warehouse job I had, and I don’t like managing because of all the stupid people you have to deal with. It’s like being a babysitter for grown people and it sucks.

One of the other guys, who never managed before, takes them up on the offer and he starts out overseeing first, second, and third shift techs. On the third shift, there are sometimes two people working, but more often than not, it’s just one person.

The new floor manager has been working for a week now, and when I get in one morning, the guy on third shift is pissed. My work hours overlap third shift by an hour so he can pass off any important tickets to me or relay any important information or so I can help him with issues he doesn’t know how to fix. I get time to chat with him in the morning.

Third Shift Guy: “[New Manager] yelled at me last night because I wasn’t answering the phone while I was on my lunch break. He kept calling back, and when I got off break, I answered his call, and he yelled at me that I need to always be manning the phones and that I can’t take a lunch break.”

Me: “That’s not okay. You’re allowed a thirty-minute, unpaid lunch break for an eight-hour shift. You don’t have to answer the phones or do anything. You can take a break. I’ll let him know he can’t say that. But, I would strongly suggest you speak to Human Resources about it so your side of the story is on record. It is illegal for them to tell you that you cannot take a break. We have a voicemail system in place to handle any missed calls while you are on break, you get email notices if any voicemails are left, and you follow up on them when you’re off break. We have a system in place.”

The guy from third shift takes my advice and speaks to HR about it.

Fast forward to a few hours later when the manager and lead tech’s weekly meeting takes place.

New Manager: “Who told the third shift guy to talk to HR about being told he can’t take breaks? We need the phones covered at all times.”

Me: “Doesn’t matter who spoke to him about going to HR. You cannot tell people they cannot take a break. That’s going to get you into trouble. Employees here that work eight hours receive a thirty-minute unpaid lunch break. All employees get that.”

New Manager: “He cannot leave the phones. Period. If he needs to use the bathroom, he’s got to run and use it quickly and get back fast. If he wants to eat, he needs to eat at his desk and answer any call that comes in. He cannot just leave the phones.”

Me: “We have a system in place to handle missed calls. You cannot tell employees they cannot take a break, period. There seems to be something about this that you’re not understanding. Have you ever managed people before?”

New Manager: “My managing experience is not the issue here. He cannot leave the phones. He cannot take a break.”

Me: “I’m just trying to keep you from getting fired because if this issue continues, that’s what is going to happen. Upper management will just wash their hands of you and be done with it if you wish to keep acting the way you are. You cannot tell someone they cannot take a lunch break. There’s nothing more to discuss. You clearly don’t understand the repercussions of your actions, and you aren’t willing to listen to someone that used to manage people so you don’t get fired.”

New Manager: “You don’t get to tell me what to do.”

Me: “Fine. Be stupid, get fired. I tried to help you, but if you’re too ignorant and stubborn to take the help, then that’s on you. I’m done talking to you about this.”

[New Manager] sits there for a moment before saying anything.

New Manager: “You still shouldn’t have told them to go to HR. That’s the issue.”

Me: “Stop talking. You’re going to get yourself fired for saying stupid things.”

I didn’t work there much longer after that, and I heard that the new manager didn’t last in his position, but that’s not just on him; it’s also on upper management for not training him.

How Is This Man Not In Jail?

, , , , , , | Right | May 17, 2022


I once managed a photo studio that required a signature anytime portraits were picked up, forcing the customer to acknowledge that they would not try to copy the photos elsewhere.

Pretty basic terms of service, yes? Except, it seems, not for this one guy.

I was already dreading seeing him again, as when he and his partner brought their new-born in for the shoot, I’d had to end the session early and kick him out of my studio after he repeatedly called his partner the worst kind of names because she couldn’t get their seven-day-old to smile on cue, I’d had enough! 

Anyway. He stopped by to pick up his portraits, and I paused the session I was in to hand them to him, rather than have him wait in the crowded area with lots of moms and kids, since I knew he was irrational.

Customer: “Why do I have to sign? I’m refusing!”

He says something something Secret Service FBI 9/11 something something gave him the right to copy his photos.

I did my best to defuse the situation, but he was having none of it, and that’s how I found myself pinned against my studio wall, his hands reaching for my throat, as he threatened to gut me like a deer, put me on the hood of his car, and drive me around town to show everyone what happens when you cross him.

My studio was in a retail store, and one of the clerks finally asks:

Clerk: “Do you think I should call the cops?”

And this is as I am gasping and telling people to call the police! 

Said police arrived. By that time, the retail store manager (not my manager) was there and had contacted my district manager.

Together, they informed me I wasn’t allowed to press charges, and that the disruption was probably my fault. The police begged me to press charges anyway, as this was the fourth time in the last couple of days they’d been called to remove this one customer from various places in town.

My DM stood firm, though, and reminded me that A) I’d get fired if I didn’t make folks sign to pick up photos and B) why did I confront someone over not signing?

So, gentle readers, I quit. A competitor was planning to open a studio, and I gleefully went over there for a bit more money and a lot more autonomy.

The next Christmas season, the same man once again came in for photos, sans partner.

When it came time to review his portrait order, he started to get belligerent with me again, and threatening.

This time, I looked him in the face and said:

Me: “I’m not scared of you. I’ve already called the police on you once and I’ll do it again. If you want portraits from me, you’re going to sit down, shut up, and only open your mouth to politely indicate which ones you’d like to buy. Do you understand me?”

And so he did… and yes, he acknowledged copyright when he picked up that set of photos, too.

Thankfully, I’m long out of retail – this happened twenty years ago – but I’ll never forget my worst customer ever.

To Give Credit Where Credit Is Due, Part 5

, , , , | Right | May 13, 2022

A regular library patron comes up to the desk and waves a magazine at us.

Patron: “I need to copy four pages out of this.”

Me: “Okay, the public copier is right over there.”

Patron: “I have forty cents credit at this library. I owed sixty cents for printing last week, and I paid with a dollar, so now I have credit.”

I look at my coworker. Our money system for computer print-outs is literally run out of an Altoids tin, and the copier is coin-operated separately. We don’t track patrons’ payments once they’ve paid.

However, we both know that this particular patron is a bit difficult, so my coworker gives me a shrug to say, “Whatever.”

Me: “Okay, we don’t have a credit system, but I can help you with the copier this time.”

I take forty cents out of the Altoids tin, drop it in the photocopier coin slot, and then photocopy the pages the patron wants, though normally it’s supposed to be self-serve.

Me: “All right. Here you go. Also, for future reference, we have no way of tracking credit. If you want your change, you can just take it when we offer it.”

Patron: “Well, I paid with a dollar. It wasn’t even my dollar; some man just gave it to me downstairs. So, I paid with that, and I told the lady at the desk to keep the change for someone else who needs it. That’s my credit.”

Me: “Okay, well… we have no way to track that.”

Patron: “It’s my credit.”

Me: “I understand what you’re saying, but we don’t track credit. In the future, you can just take your change and keep it with you for next time.”

Patron: “Look, I have two nursing degrees, so I’m not stupid. You don’t have to keep repeating that. I’m not dumb!”

Me: “Okay.”

Patron: “You know what? I’m going to take my copies somewhere else next time since you can’t even treat grown-ups with respect! I’ll go to [Office Supply Chain] and give them my business!”

Me: “Okay.”

Patron: “No respect! I have two degrees!”

To Give Credit Where Credit Is Due, Part 4
To Give Credit Where Credit Is Due, Part 3
To Give Credit Where Credit Is Due, Part 2
To Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

Good Thing She’s Getting Out

, , , , , , | Working | February 28, 2022

My coworker has just put in her two-week notice. She hasn’t told anyone where she is going yet but has vaguely mentioned to me and one other person that she is getting into a completely different industry because she is tired of the type of work she has been doing. However, she hasn’t said this to our bosses, who are the owners of the company.

About halfway through her two weeks, a very bizarre string of events happens. I am not in the office that day, but the story is relayed to me later. Apparently, our bosses, who are both usually very chipper and friendly, spend half the day talking in their office or in hushed tones around the common areas, barely communicating with anyone else in the building. They look aggravated or upset anytime anyone passes by them. They also glare at my coworker whenever they see her.

Finally, at the end of the day, they approach her office and tell her to delete all of her online accounts related to the company while they watch. She obliges but is confused why they are asking her to do this — one, because she still needs some of these accounts to get work done for the next week, and two, because it is not standard protocol for an employee to delete all of these accounts themself; usually an admin will do it for them after they leave. Once she finishes doing this, they tell her to pack up her things and that she will be escorted out of the building!

Now getting very upset, she asks them why she is apparently getting fired a week before her last day. They tell her that they find it insulting and unacceptable that she would leave this company to go work for a direct competitor, bringing them all of the knowledge and trade secrets that she had learned during her time here. Extremely confused and upset, she tells them that she isn’t leaving for a competitor at all; she has accepted a position as a salesperson in a completely unrelated industry. They immediately back off, and with barely an apology, they leave her alone and return to their usual chipper selves.

The next day, the bosses tell the rest of the staff that we will be meeting at a nearby restaurant for our coworker’s going away party. They treat the whole situation like it never happened, and it is never figured out why they thought my coworker was going to work for a competitor. She spends her last week barely getting any work done since she no longer has any company accounts.

Ugh, Tourists

, , , , , , | Right | CREDIT: Bae_Mes | February 27, 2022

This is my father’s story, and it took place about ten years ago. My father works in an industry that is involved in building, but he isn’t a contractor.

He was out at a new site in a small town on the Maine coast. The town was a typical small fishing and lobstering village. It was also a well-known destination for tourists. The town survived on fishing and lobstering all year round and tourism during the summer.

While he was working, a woman wandered over from her very large, very expensive house next door to say hello. They got to chatting, and the woman, who only lived in Maine three months out of the year, started complaining to my dad about the fishing and lobstering boats starting up at 4:00 am every morning and going by her house and waking her up. Most of these boats had old diesel engines, and they were loud.

Woman: “I’ve complained to the town clerk about the noise. I want them to ban fishermen and lobstermen from starting their motors before 8:00 am.”

This didn’t sit well with my father, but he’s a polite and considerate man.

Father: “These men and women often go far out to sea to pull their traps, so they have to get up very early. Some also have secondary afternoon jobs, so going out early is their best option. This is their livelihood and going out later would negatively impact the local economy.”

She was miffed.

Woman: “Well, not only am I going to propose the ban at the next town meeting, but I have the money to ensure that the ban will be enacted.”

My father chuckled and shook his head.

Father: “You’re wasting your time.”

Woman: “We will just see about that.”

Obviously, the ban was never enacted, and she sold her summer home a couple of years later. I’m told she was fairly well hated in the area because of her complete disregard for the town’s main livelihood, and apparently, after this incident, certain fishermen and lobstermen would gun their engines hard past her house early in the morning.

She really thought her sleep was more important than an entire town’s livelihood.